Neighbour wants to replace fence with wall

| 07/06/2017

You have a chain link fence around your yard that you put there with your own money, without any help from your neighbour. Now your neighbour would like to put a block wall there instead. Are you obligated to help the neighbour with half of the cost, even though I have a fence there already?

Auntie’s answer: I have tackled fences before, though the other column dealt with one person building a divider where none previously existed (see Building a fence between neighbours). Nevertheless, I believe the same basic principles and the requirements under the law still apply.

To start with, the Fences Law (1997 Revision) does address neighbours sharing the cost of building a mutual fence but there is a big “but” attached, and that is that there have not been any implementing regulations approved. Simply and unbelievably put, that means while the law says neighbours should each contribute to the construction of the shared fence, that stipulation cannot be enforced.

In addition, while your neighbour does not need your approval to build a fence or wall within their property, if either is going to be more than four feet high, your neighbour must apply for permission from the Department of Planning.

I am always hopeful that situations like this can be worked out with a bit of common sense and compromise. Since you have already built a fence I can understand why you do not want to help with the cost of constructing a wall as well.

Your question leaves out some pertinent information, though. It seems you are saying your neighbour will be taking down your fence to put up the wall. Has he or she actually asked your permission do to that? And has your neighbour asked you to contribute funds to the project? When did you put up the fence? How long have you been neighbours and has your relationship been amicable up till now?

I am also wondering if you can see any good reason why a wall might be better than a fence. If your answer is you can, would it be acceptable to you to deduct what you spent on your fence from whatever your shared cost might be for the wall? As I say, I do not have all the details so just throwing a suggestion out there.

On the other hand, I will mention once more that you are under no legal obligation to hand over any money for the wall.

But if this is your first disagreement and you have largely been good neighbours to each other, it seems a shame for this to sour the relationship.

The law mentioned in this column can be found on the CNS Library

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Category: Ask Auntie

Comments (12)

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  1. Friendly neighbor says:

    You are not obligated to assist with the expense of your neighbor’s wall. It might look a little odd to have both a fence and a wall but understand that you feel that you have spent your money putting up a fence and might be hesitant to just tear it down.

    All in all hopefully this will not cause unnecessary tension between you and your neighbor.

    It is just a fence/wall. Living harmoniously with your neighbor is more important than a fence/wall.

    I have found a lot of people here so secluded and closed off. They sometimes live next to each other for years and do not even know their neighbors name.
    They drive into their enclosed garages, build walls and plant 10 feet hedges. Where is that Cayman kind hospitality I always hear about?

  2. Clive says:

    The damn Russians are meddling into everything!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    The Mexicans will pay. They always do.

  4. Rp says:

    so in other words he can build whatever wall/fence/fortification he wants and as tall as he pleases since planning would still approve despite any objections from neighbor regarding aesthetics?

  5. Anonymous says:

    What if the wall was paid for by one neighbour. Can the neighbour that paid for the wall paint/decorate both sides as he or she pleases?

  6. Blocklayer says:

    I don’t see the problem. If the neighbour builds the wall entirely on his property it’s his wall. If you agree to have it straddle the boundary then it becomes jointly owned and you should pay half of the cost. For the sake of, say, 3 inches of lost land, if I was the neighbour I would put it inside the boundary so that you have no say in the matter. I would not object to you painting your side though.
    A wall is much better than a fence: it lasts longer; it cannot be undermined; it cannot be cut; you can’t see through it; etc.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Is your neighbor Donald Trump?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Like Dart?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Shared walls are structurally wider than chain-link which will deduct inches from each property along that perimeter. In contentious situations, there is a temptation for the initial contractor to collude with the neighbour that engaged them – with their side knowing that it will be harder to move the wall after it’s built. Have a surveyor GPS and mark your property line to ensure the full width of any contentious wall gets erected on your neighbour’s property and not on yours.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Take a second and have a rethink and maybe look at it this way, if your neighbor is building a wall… then why not? If the wall comes out looking great, then why not just remove the fence, and then paint your side of the wall that will match your property and be happy. Wouldn’t everyone win at that point?