Tuesday, January 27, 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 SolanoScene@TJones-Law.com.

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

 
Health officials report 1st Solano flu death

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3, 5 Comments | Gallery

 
 
 
American Legion Post schedules head-shaving fundraiser

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A6

Rush Ranch seeks docents

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A2

 
Dramas, thrillers lead week’s box office openings

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B8

Vacaville Toastmasters welcome guests

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A6

 
Kroc Health Fair offers free screenings

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Chipotle fundraiser to benefit Armijo newspaper

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Vacaville council eyes earlier start time

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page:

 
.

US / World

Facebook suffers outage affecting users worldwide

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Private wells in California farm area show high uranium

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
 
Law enforcement wants popular police-tracking app disabled

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Cuban youth build secret computer network despite Wi-Fi ban

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Seekers of the Hollywood Sign disrupt nearby neighborhood

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
2 small planes crash-land off Hawaii; all aboard survive

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Report: State worker sent alarming notes before gun arrest

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
 
Dwindling group of survivors to mark Auschwitz 70 years on

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 1 Comment | Gallery

New Jersey’s Christie launches political action committee

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
US drone strikes resume in Yemen despite turmoil

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Monster snowstorm swirls into densely populated Northeast US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Man takes responsibility for drone over White House

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Jan. 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
.

Entertainment

Petty earns writing credit for Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
National Cowboy Poetry Gathering begins in northeast Nevada

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Trainor and Styles write a duet about heartbreak

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Emma Watson to star in live-action ‘Beauty and the Beast’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
SAG Awards win sends ‘Birdman’ Oscar hopes soaring

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Cumberbatch says sorry for calling black actors ‘colored’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
A murder at the edge of the world takes ‘Fortitude’ to crack

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Lawyers: Melissa Rivers files lawsuit in mother Joan’s death

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Sundance Watch: ‘Cobain’ premieres, women talk Hollywood

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

TVGrid Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
.

Sports

Manfred knows he’ll get hit as commish _ his name is on ball

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
NASCAR to leave championship format unchanged in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Kobe Bryant to have shoulder surgery, likely out for season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Tim Brown hopes 6th time is charm in Hall of Fame vote

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Raiders sign Charles Woodson for 2015 season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Rams notify St. Louis they’ll go year-to-year on dome lease

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Gamecocks still No. 1; Chattanooga joins women’s hoops poll

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Scott Dixon shines in masterful final drive in Rolex win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
LeBron, Cavs climb in standings, back in title conversation

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Capitals among East contenders; West race too tight to call

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Playoff not interested in moving semis of New Year’s Eve

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Fireworks help celebrate Venus Williams’ Australian Open run

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
US women to host New Zealand, Ireland, Mexico, South Korea

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

NBA D-League All-Star events set for Feb. 15 in Brooklyn

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
AP Source: Los Angeles Kings release Mike Richards

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Hope Solo could be left off US World Cup roster

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Employers: Agreement made on key issue in port labor dispute

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Lyft cars doing away with pink furry mustache

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4, 1 Comment

 
Hard Rock (again) dips toe into Atlantic City casino market

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

US stock market finishes with small gains

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
IBM disputes report that big layoffs coming

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Union says California Kaiser nurses reach contract agreement

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Boeing, SpaceX will beat Russia on price for astronaut rides

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

CBO: Deficit to shrink to lowest level of Obama presidency

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Eurozone looks for dialogue after stunning Greece elections

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

S&P downgrades Russia credit rating to junk

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Obituaries

Donald Wesley Johnson

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Rose is Rose Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C. Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Cryptoquote Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
For Better or Worse Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Bridge Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Garfield Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Crossword Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Baby Blues Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baldo Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Word Sleuth Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Frank and Ernest Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sudoku Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Blondie Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Peanuts Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4