Sunday, March 29, 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

.

Solano News

Vanden High library project nears completion

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Vanden girls end stellar season

By Brian Arnold | From Page: C1 | Gallery

Cheers for Jupiter – and roller derby

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2, 2 Comments

 
Vacaville police make arrest after pursuit

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3, 3 Comments | Gallery

Red Cross volunteers help assemble first aid kits

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
PG&E helps replace stolen equipment

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3

Justin-Siena names new principal

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3

 
Free paper shredding option returns to Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Vacaville bridal, quinceanera show a hit

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

Event benefits child who attends Cambridge School

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Best barometer of investment success: Wealth

By Mark Sievers | From Page: B8

 
Tips on hydrozoning your garden

By Tina Saravia | From Page: B8, 2 Comments

 
Fairfield police log: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

Gang chief, international fugitive among dozens paroled

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Experts: Sex bias case will embolden women despite verdict

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Crash victim’s father calls for more focus on pilot welfare

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Popular Yosemite National Park lookout opens early in season

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Bird flu found in a top Minnesota turkey producing county

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Some British Airways frequent flier accounts miles breached

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

7 shot and injured at Florida spring break house party

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Boko Haram kills 39, legislator, disrupting Nigeria election

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Official: Al-Shabab siege at Somali hotel ends, 24 dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Islamic fighters led by al-Qaida in Syria seize major city

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
.

Living

Today in History: March 29, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 29, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Pope finds popularity and dissent at 2-year mark

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Truth does not change

By The Rev. Art Zacher | From Page: C3, 1 Comment

Horoscopes: March 29, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B8

 
Daughter choses stepdad over father to walk her down the aisle

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B8

.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Second Julie Andrews memoir expected in 2017

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Chrissie Hynde memoir coming in September

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

.

Sports

 
Warriors beat Bucks 108-95, clinch top seed in West

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Wisconsin heads to Final Four after 85-78 win over Arizona

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Burns scores winner in SO to lift Sharks past Flyers, 3-2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Power leads Penske sweep in qualifying for IndyCar opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Revolution win first of season, beating Earthquakes 2-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jenest pitches SCC baseball team to shutout of Contra Costa

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

AP sources: Texas fires coach Barnes after 17 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Kazmir, Quintana both strong; A’s beat White Sox 10-4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Zunino homers twice, but Giants rally to edge Mariners 9-8

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Gordon, Earnhardt among the winners and fans of Martinsville

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Prince Bishop wins Dubai World Cup, California Chrome 2nd

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Serena Williams easily wins opening match at Miami Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jimmy Walker leads hometown Texas Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

A glance at women in leadership roles in business worldwide

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
For business, more women in charge means bigger profits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

US drillers scrambling to thwart OPEC threat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Test trial to use computer servers to heat homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

.

Obituaries

Robert Roberts

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Janice Jewel Thompson

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Betty Mason

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Tiffany Lyn (Helzer) Kemp

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Richard F. Coleman

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
James Lee Lewis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Helen Kalis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Carol A. Vose

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics