Thursday, March 5, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Neighbor’s lack of action on propped-up fence deserves registered letter

By
From page C3 | September 15, 2012 |

Q:  You have addressed part of this issue several times before but I’ve never seen anyone continue the line through to the end. The fence between my yard and the neighbor’s yard on one side needs to be replaced. Several 4-by-4 posts are no longer in the ground and the fence has been propped up by both sides for several years. My neighbors no longer live in the house and have been renting it out. I’ve been calling the owners for almost two years to get together and look at options with replacing the fence.

The owner called back about three months ago to find out what I had in mind and talked to my daughter as I wasn’t home. I’ve called back about six times since, with no contact or return calls. I plan on making a decision about the fence and sending him a registered letter with a date for him to reply by. If no response, I understand that my choice is to have the work done then take him to court to sue him for his half. I assume if he goes to court he will say that he doesn’t have the money or it’s his wife’s house or he wasn’t consulted.

What are my options if he doesn’t have the money? Will putting a lien on the house do anything? What if he is going into default and the bank is getting ready to take it back? How can I find out? What papers do I take to court with me and what about paperwork for a judgment recovery? Thanks for any suggestions you can make.

A:  I think you’re right. Over the numerous decades when I’ve written about things like replacing a fence, cutting a neighbor’s tree, etc. I generally left it at something like, “. . . and if push comes to shove you can go to court and get a judgment.”

But of course, a judgment is simply a piece of paper.

To recap for other readers; if a fence exists on the property line between your house and a neighbor’s, and the fence needs to be replaced, the California Civil Code provides that both property owners are  50 percent liable for the costs of replacing the fence.

If the neighbor won’t cooperate, you can pay to rebuild the fence and send your neighbor a bill for half the price. If he ignores you, you can go to court.

But the law requires of everyone that we act reasonably in all things.

Lawyers often make their living arguing in court over what is reasonable. But in this case, giving notice to your neighbor of your intent to replace the fence, coupled with repeatedly trying to get him to come to the table and discuss it, certainly constitutes reasonable conduct on your part.

So let’s pretend you’ve done everything you could do to get the neighbor to cooperate in the replacement of the fence. But none of your efforts have paid off.

So you replaced the fence at a cost of $2,000. My high school algebra (California education) tells me your neighbor owes you exactly $1,000.

So what do you do?

First, make a demand for payment. You can send a certified letter if you think it will help get his attention, but there’s nothing legally significant about it.

Your testimony that you mailed a demand letter to the proper address will be enough.

Then you head off to small-claims court. Small-claims court is really a terrific way to have small problems like this resolved.

There are no lawyers allowed. There are no fancy rules of evidence to contend with. You just show up and when your case is called you walk up and tell the judge your story.

You can give the judge any paperwork and pictures you think would be helpful to your causes.

If the neighbor shows up at all, he’s welcome to do the same thing.

A week or so later you should receive your judgment in the mail.

Now what?

What you have in your hand is an official “I owe you” from your neighbor and signed by a judge. To actually get paid the neighbor can simply give you the payment, or you’ll have to avail yourself of the collection laws in this state.

The specifics are beyond the scope of this column; but your options include putting a lien on any real estate he owns, taking the money right out of his bank account or paycheck, or even getting a court order to take his couch or golf clubs (I emphasis getting a court order first).

Collection laws aren’t really complicated, but there are procedures you have to adhere to. It’s likely you can buy a book or get some information online. Just make sure you are looking at current California law. It’s likely that using Texas collection laws would only get you thrown in jail.

Tim Jones is a real estate attorney in Fairfield. If you have any real estate questions you would like answered in this column you can contact him at [email protected]

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

     
    Show resilience in the face of adversity

    By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

     
    Students sample industry choices during school career fair

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Real McCoy II Ferry set for maintenance

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3

     
    Vacaville police slate annual awards ceremony

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3

    Limited damage to apartment from carport fire

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Pet remembrance event set in Vallejo

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

     
    Friday concert benefits Families Helping Families

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

     
    Vallejo police arrest 4 in connection with 3 killings

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

     
    National Red Cross Month celebrates heroes

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

    Il Fiorello schedules citrus class

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

     
    Jury convicts ex-con who served as own lawyer

    By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A4

    Red Carpet Gala to benefit theater foundation

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

     
    Suisun City police log: Tuesday, March 3, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

    Fairfield police log: Tuesday, March 3, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

     
    .

    US / World

     
    Justices sharply divided over health care law subsidies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    California lawmaker pushes child care worker vaccinations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Children in Southern California breathing easier, study says

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Failures by 3 governments preceded homeless man’s death

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Second Los Angeles hospital reports ‘superbug’ infections

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    How much sugar is in that? 7 foods with added sugar

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Obama signs Homeland Security funding bill into law

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

     
    House panel issues subpoena for Clinton’s personal emails

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Feds: Evidence backs Ferguson officer’s account in shooting

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    A defiant Alabama regains ground against gay marriage

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Microsoft co-founder says he found sunken Japan WWII warship

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    Coal mine blast kills at least 24 in war-torn east Ukraine

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    .

    Living

    Today in History: March 5, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: March 5, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Horoscopes: March 5, 2015

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

     
    I can’t tell if I still want to be married, or just don’t want to be alone

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

    .

    Entertainment

    DiCaprio partners with Netflix for series of documentaries

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

     
    ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ tops MTV Movie Awards nominations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

    Glen Campbell children fighting wife’s control of affairs

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

     
    .

    Sports

     
    Posey has 2-run double in Giants’ 9-2 loss to A’s

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Local report: Vanden softball slips by Rodriguez with late run

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

    Curry shoots Warriors to 102-93 victory over Bucks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Alex Johnson, AL batting champ in 1970, dies at age 72

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Goodell: NFL responsible for Super Bowl seating problems

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Former player Nate Jackson calls for NFL to allow marijuana

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Phoenix to install tire barriers before NASCAR visit

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Pirelli sticks with same tire choices for first 4 F1 races

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    AP Source: Peyton Manning returning for 18th NFL season

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    NCAA reports big jump in home runs with new flat-seam ball

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    MLS, players agree in principle to 5-year deal

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Prosecutors can’t bring up Florida shooting in ex-NFLer case

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Vikings agree to trade Cassel to Bills

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Scott opens a season of change at Doral

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    ‘It WAS him': Defense admits Tsarnaev bombed Boston Marathon

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    With Peterson’s status in question, Vikings pay a visit

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    NFL stadium supporters in LA suburb file ballot paperwork

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Cesar Luis Garcia-Regalado

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

     
    Rodolfo Landabora Porquez

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

    Aaron D. Malave

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Thelma A. Roche

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9