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Fences Between Neighbors: Who Pays and When?

How did we answer that? #NeighborLaw #FenceReplacement

We had a patron come in asking if a neighbor could compel the other neighbor to pay for half a fence. According to our patron, there was an old fence on the property line but it wasn’t in bad condition and didn’t need replacing. However, the neighbor replaced the fence without talking to our patron and now wants our patron to pay for half of the cost. Our patron was wondering what their rights were and if they would have to pay.

So, how did we help? Most of the situation our patron was describing was around the subject of neighbor law. We started our patron on the Nolo book called Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries & Noise. Nolo Press titles are excellent resources because they present legal information with easy to read and understand language. While they are not Oregon specific, they provide a good foundation for further research if needed. They also explain legal language and terms so that when using more technical resources, it makes those more understandable. Nolo titles are available in many law libraries and public libraries as well as through the State of Oregon Law Library as ebooks.

As our patron researched, their question ended up being about how to determine if a fence needed replacing. Since this was looking for interpretation of the law and beyond the scope of what we can help with, we provided our patron with lawyer referral resources. We showed them a guide we have on our website about how to most effectively use their time with a lawyer. We also informed them that some cities/areas offer mediation services that can help neighbors resolve disputes without involving the courts.

At the end of the day, we were able to help our patron answer the question about who owns the fence and who needs to pay and in what circumstances but not whether their fence qualified for those circumstances. Having been able to do the research for the first part, they will be able to more effectively use a lawyer’s time for the second part without having to pay the lawyer to explain the laws around fences.





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