What Can I Do About that Crummy Fence?

QUESTION: We want to replace the rickety old fence that separates our backyard from our neighbor’s yard with a new one. Do we have to get our neighbor’s permission first? Would he be required to pay half of the cost? Also, how tall could the new fence be?

ANSWER: You would have to get your neighbor’s permission to tear down the fence and build a new one if it straddles the property line. If you have a survey that shows that the fence is clearly on your side of the property’s boundary, you probably can move forward without first gaining his approval.

Either way, your neighbor is likely under no legal obligation to pay half the cost — though an exception might be made if, say, the fence is indeed on the boundary and poses a danger to your family or the general public. If the fence is in good shape, but you’re simply tired of looking at it, expect to foot the bill for its replacement by yourself, unless the person next door shares your opinion.

You’ll have to call the City of Flagstaff or Coconino County building department to find out how high the new fence or wall can be. Six feet in back is common and four in front. If you hire a professional fencing company, they will do this for you as part of the permit process. Homeowner’s Associations also must approve in certain neighborhoods (Ponderosa Trails and Boulder Pointe, for example). And, fences are simply forbidden in some Flagstaff neighborhoods (Elk Run and Continental).

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