Can I Force My Neighbor to Pay Her Share of Necessary Repairs?

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I have a common pillar in front of my house that is jointly shared by my neighbor.  This pillar is the center pillar that holds up our porch roof.  I came to my neighbor a year ago with a cost estimate to repair the pillar.  She asked for some time to get more estimates.  Ten months later I spoke to her again and she said she still wanted to compare prices.  2 months after that I had an engineer evaluate the pillar and he wrote a letter saying it needed to be fixed as soon as practical.  I have her a copy of the engineer’s letter and even wrote her a letter with it saying she could pay me back in installments and I was going ahead with the work because it is that necessary.  She called my contractor and told him she wanted to compare prices again.  Can I take her to court to force her hand?  I have given her a year since I first approached her and now I have the engineer’s letter saying it is necessary. 

Shared property is often difficult to deal with, for just the sorts of reasons you outline.  Your rights when dealing with a slow-to-act neighbor will be determined by the documents and local law.

The first thing to look at is whatever documents (deeds, co-ownership agreements, etc.) set out your joint ownership of the pillar.  If you’re lucky, they may have a process set out to deal with this kind of situation, and all you have to do is follow that process.

Failing that, you need to look to local law.  You may have laws regarding co-owned property that set out a similar process to address
this sort of situation.  A local attorney may be helpful in finding out what local laws may apply, and how they work.

If all else fails, you are probably stuck with fronting the costs yourself, and going after your neighbor after the fact.  The risk there
is primarily that a judge may agree that she could have done it cheaper, and only award you half of the cheaper price (leaving you out the difference).  However, it seems to me that you have given her more than enough time to find an alternative, so that works in your favor.