I never thought I’d see the day that I turned into a sitcom portrayal of a lousy neighbor, but I have.
I’m Mrs. Kravitz.
I’m Mrs. Kravitz over a fenceline dispute.
Not the actual property line, but the fence line – my fence.
Oy. What have I done?!
For those of you who do not know the “Mrs. Kravitz” reference, I did try to find a more suitable and current image, but nothing really worked – except maybe Mo from Mo’s Bar, but not really. To help you out, right now, I am the exact opposite of Mr. Flanders.
Because my neighbors are building a fence and I don’t like it one bit.
WHAT IS MY PROBLEM?
First of all, this particular neighbor has the entire neighborhood in quiet uproar. She is new – which always brings scuttlebutt – and doing many unconventional things. There are rumors of her igniting fireworks after midnight (lighting up another neighbor’s bedroom window like an air raid) … and another neighbor said something about seeing her dancing outside at all hours of the night (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing…).
OK, anyway, this neighbor, who lives a few ranches away, has asked my direct next door neighbor if she could fence in my neighbor’s pasture (which now is lovely grass fields) so that her horses could graze in a much larger pasture – when combined with my neighbor’s pasture.
My direct next door neighbor agreed. They figured they would simply attach the frontage fence they would erect, to my already existing fence which ran up the entire side of my direct neighbor’s property.
However, I have learned that sharing fences isn’t always a good idea.
Long ago, I shared 4 fence lines with 4 neighbors… There is a reason for the expression “Good fences make good neighbors.” You see, I built all four fences around my perimeter and all 4 of my neighbors atttached to it and then expected me to maintain those fences they used, even when their cows, horses, sheep, dogs, kid driving a tractor (whatever)… destroyed it.
So, I’ve learned.
On my property now, I created all the perimeter fences with a 6′ setback. In this way, no one could use my fences. They would have to build their own.
Perhaps mean… perhaps seemingly curmudgeony… maybe even surly.
But, I will never have to fight about fencing anymore. Or, so I thought.
THE FIRST ISSUE
I noticed, a few weeks ago, that there was a new fence along the frontage road that attached to my fence. I called the neighbor and relayed to them about the 6′ setback.
She asked me if it would bother me to use my fence no matter – even with her horses on my property.
I said it would bother me… and told her why I had created the setback.
(This is when I realized that I had become that nasty Mrs. Kravitz neighbor..)
She told me that she didn’t have enough money to build that entire fenceline without using my fences. She said that it would be a hardship for her to build a fence along my fenceline in her friend’s property – especially because it wouldn’t be her fence on her property but it would be her fence on her friend’s property which would essentially make it her friend’s fence that she paid for (are you following me on this?).
Yes, I said. That was correct. (Now I was really Mrs. Kravitz.)
Eventually she understood that her animals would be on my property if she attached to my fence so she agreed to build her own fenceline.
For a brief moment, I had won the battle.
HOW I LOST THE WAR…
But now that I’ve not agreed to let them use my fenceline as their fenceline, I’ve made my life somewhat of a Mrs. Kravitz hell.
First of all, it is 100 degrees here most of the time. So work is done either very early or very late. Not only that, it is very dry, so ON ONE should be using any gas infused weed whackers or chain saws or striking metal post hole diggers against rock – in the dry grass.
But, now that I have been horribly unaccommodating to her, I don’t want to run over every 5 minutes to tell her workers not to use their gasoline powered spark generating equipment on the brittle grass to cut down the trees (shading my pastures on that side) during fire prone times…
Luckily, someone else did that. Another fire-wary frightened neighbor.
But then… the fence crew decided to work at sunrise (5am) and in the wee hours of the weekend mornings. Great. Again, I didn’t want to say anything because then I’d be Mrs. Kravitz squared.
To top it all off, the new fence they are erecting is not very pretty.
So, now I’m fearful of wildfires daily, I don’t get any sleep, my neighbor won’t talk to me and … previously, I looked at my pretty fence. Now, I don’t.
Mrs. Kravitz: -4
MORAL TO THIS STORY?
I’m not sure. It is too soon to tell. But, if there is a fire, I will never forgive myself. My new neighbors don’t want anything to do with me and at the very least, I will have to look at their fence from now on instead of my own.
Perhaps letting them connect to my fence – and potentially repairing it – would have been a way better choice for myself in the long run…
Mrs. Kravitz, be gone!
In TN, if you let them attach to your fence, after a certain period of time your fence would become the new property line – or so a lawyer told me in 2002 when a fence issue arose.
;) I had my hoses standing by… but you are right, I should have just gone out there and started watering!
Are you kidding me???!!!
Im with you 1000%%%%%
And would have done the very same thing.
If you can go out and VISIBLY hose down the grass where they will/are working.
Maybe they will get the hint?
If not at least you have dampened the area.
She should have talked to you first about building a fence using your fence before she even started.
That was rude of her to say the least!!
Stick to your guns and do not feel bad in any way!!!!!!
Thank you for taking the time to write this great advice. Unfortunately, in my situation, no neighbors would never agree to anything
to do with common area. As it is, only two of us pay to maintain the private road used by 25 homes. You get my drift. And, yes, she
erected her fence 6′ off of mine, so she is not on my property. She is on hers only. The good news is that we do have our fence staked
on the property lines at the corners with markers and signs. But, you are very correct in your fears and knowledge. Thank you.
Meant to add, “after reading your post” where my computer got stuck and sent the comment before finishing. A workable strategy for area sharing is to have the community develop a common area with documented (as in formal written agreement) percentage shares including the cost of maintenance and/or cost of initial constructing of improvements such as fences, greenery, re-seeding, mowing, shelter-building, or other. This type of arrangement is done with community water wells all the time. And, instead of individual property owners being personally responsible for maintenance (someone always slacks with a million “excuses”) there is a selection process agreed on to select a professional maintenance contractor and owners pay into the maintenance “kitty” annually, or quarterly, or even monthly. Usually escrow companies will accept the recorded agreement and set up, for a modest fee, the process for collecting for the “kitty” and requests for disbursements to the appropriate party(ies). Please do consider having professional advice on this matter. You aren’t a Kravitz – you are very smart to be concerned about this. Neighborhood bullies are nothing new and often the only way you can stop them is via legal actions – hopefully the successfully prophylactic kind!
“On my property now, I created all the perimeter fences with a 6? setback. In this way, no one could use my fences. They would have to build their own.”
OMG. Please, please discuss this with a real estate/land use attorney in your area. Right after you Google “adverse possession.” By fencing with a 6 foot setback you actually may be inviting it. And unless you are fond of paying out thousands of dollars to litigate and take back what was yours to begin with or defend liability issues, don’t share your property with others. This is one part of “sharing” that moms urging kids to share was completely wrong about.
The cliche “good fences make good neighbors” is only valid when the modifier “accurately placed” goes before the words “good fences.”
After reading your post
I feel your pain. Although I live in a city, we can still have issues and pain in the “booty” neighbors. Our property had NO FENCES on either side or the back and we wanted a pool, so we just did it. Our style, our choice of paint, our wood. We had a specific code to follow with the pool and with my German Shepherd who fancies herself a watchdog/Cujo with other dogs/cats ( not people or animals) went forward . It is too bad, but I’m in agreement that good fences make good neighbors and I think your newest addition sounds a bit overbearing to ask. She should have done her due diligence prior to purchasing property. I’ll get off my soap box now.
You are right… I just feel sheepish now. Thank you!
Thank you, Many!
Stick to your guns, so to speak, Dawn. Allowing the neighbor to attach to your fence would be creating a liability for you, and in this sue-happy age that could be devastating. The new neighbor should have worked this out before she bought the property – this is her problem, not yours, and please don’t let her give you one. And remember, the fence could become an issue if/when you decide to sell your property. Good luck!
Here in the DFw area even though u live in the country. Because of ‘utility and easement ‘. Stuff. U have to have survey on everything and pay for inspections. To erect any thing or put up anything. And because I sit on the Barnet shale. You can’t dump anything. Because of contamination to water supply. So your land is not your land
Dawn – I agree with what you did…how rude of your neighbor to assume they could use your fence line. I don’t know if this is the same in CA as it is in MO but there is “adverse possession”, if they attached to your fence, that 6′ would ultimately be adverserly possessed by your neighbor. You really could be a “Mrs. Kravitz and asked to see the survey line…that’s how I found out about my fence line issue but this was when I was surveying the land to buy it…seller knocked off some 4 acres of the sell price.
Hopefully you won’t “see” the fence once it settles in. Oh, I wonder what your next door neighbor will feel if the new neighbor allows their horses to ruin the nice grass pastures.