Over 20 years ago, I built a fence on a boundary line that separates my yard from the yard adjacent to mine. No one had purchased that particular property when I built the fence and I had HOA approval. Fast forward to a year ago — my adjacent neighbors tore down the fence and built a new fence without discussing the matter. Now, they are taking me to small claims court in an attempt to sue me for over half the cost, plus interest. They state that since I was “negligent” and did not maintain the fence to their liking, I now owe them for the amount they are requesting. I have documentation that shows that I tried to mediate with them on 2 different occasions, but they have refused. The only fence statute that my state has pertains to agriculture/ranching purposes. Would a judge be likely to rule on their behalf? Thank you for considering this matter.
It sounds like you’ve been pretty reasonable in this. If you can prove that you installed the fence at your expense (i.e., that you were the owner); that the neighbors didn’t work with you regarding your alleged lack of maintenance; and that you’ve tried to work out the dispute, all that puts your position in a very good light.
The reality of small claims court, however, is that it’s usually pretty rough justice, so my opinion really doesn’t matter. If you’re not satisfied with the result, look to see what your appeal rights are; in some places, the defendant (you) has the right to what is essentially a re-trial.