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HOA Question Fence staining on property division/boundary fences

Discussion in 'General Chat Forum' started by Inverness, Jun 10, 2015.

  1. Inverness

    Inverness New Member

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    We intend to stain our fence - and the color we chose is a transparent wood-tone - but a shade or two darker than the original color. Our backyard is fully fenced, and one side of the fencing is a division fence between our property and our neighbor's property. We did not install the division fence, our neighbor did. We did the other three sides and connected it to that run.

    Question is - when we stain, are we allowed (by HOA rules) to stain the side of the division fence facing our property? If we don't, than our fencing will be dark on three sides and light on one side. I see the state code http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+coh+55-319+701588 which speaks to the repair of the fence, but not to the staining. The state code Va. Code Ann. §55-317 states that we would be "co-owners" of the division/boundary fence.

    I know - just ask the neighbor - but they are "sensitive" people and suffice to say there are "issues". So - I would like to know what the HOA regulations might be before proceeding. I couldn't find this situation addressed in the HOA regs but I might have missed it.

    assistance in this would be appreciated - especially if anyone can send a link or reference to the applicable HOA regulation.
     
  2. Zeratul

    Zeratul Well-Known Member

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    Had a similar issue in our townhouse years ago. We paid for the entire fence and felt that we could stain in with the color of our choice. We paid for the full cost so there would not be any issues with ownership or sharing of maintenance issues. The color we picked was not what our neighbor wanted and he asked to change it since he was the only one who would see it. Since his yard was not fenced on the other 3 sides... seemed like a stretch to me.

    But in keeping with our original approach/intent we just stained it the way we wanted but no one brought up any state law and the HOA only needed to approve the color. One thing I did ask the fence company was to make sure it was installed within my property line. Not sure if that makes a difference...

    But in your case, since it looks like your neighbor owns that part of the fence... you may have a problem. But to me, the simple approach would be to suggest you guys make a simple contract with you offering to stain and maintain the color as long as you are there... and if you move....put the color back if its possible?

    Just my 2 cents worth... but I always think everyone is as reasonable as me!
     
  3. KTdid

    KTdid Well-Known Member

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    Yes. I stained and hanged lattice and I am expected to clean the algae on my side of the fence.
     
  4. vacliff

    vacliff "You shouldn't say that."

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    The HOA has no rules that allow one resident to do ANYTHING to another residents property.
     
  5. KTdid

    KTdid Well-Known Member

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    If it's a line fence and starts falling apart on my side of the yard, who is responsible for the repair - the neighbor who installed it?
     
  6. Inverness

    Inverness New Member

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    Technically it isn't "their" property - since it is a connected boundary fence - it is co-owned property (Va. Code Ann. §55-317 - 319). Thanks for the help, though. I am definitely open to more lines of thinking or experience on the matter!
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2015
  7. Inverness

    Inverness New Member

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    Va. Code Ann. §55-317 -319 state that repairs to the fence are joint responsibility. https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+55-317 and https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+55-319 . (if there are other regulations (county, village, or other) please let me know! I am looking....)

    I don't think of staining as "repair" but it might be considered maintenance. The state law is silent as to the cosmetic attributes - eg color of stain - so I am wondering what HOA thinks or if there is precedence??
     
  8. Inverness

    Inverness New Member

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    Thanks! Was that an agreement between the two of you or was it from a regulation?
     
  9. vacliff

    vacliff "You shouldn't say that."

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    Here is what the code says:
    § 55-317. Obligation to provide division fences.
    Adjoining landowners shall build and maintain, at their joint and equal expense, division fences between their lands, unless one of them shall choose to let his land lie open or unless they shall otherwise agree between themselves.
    (Code 1950, § 8-887; 1970, c. 713; 1977, c. 624; 2005, c. 873.)

    § 55-319. When division fence already built.

    When any fence which has been built and used by adjoining landowners as a division fence, or any fence which has been built by one, and the other afterwards required to pay half of the value, or expense thereof, under the provisions hereinbefore contained, and which has thereby become a division fence between such lands, shall become out of repair to the extent that it is no longer a lawful fence, either one of such adjoining landowners may give written notice to the other, or to his agent, of his desire and intention to repair such fence, and require him to come forward and repair his half thereof, and if he shall fail to do so within thirty days after being so notified, the one giving such notice may then repair the entire fence so as to make it a lawful fence, and the other shall be liable to him for one-half of the expense thereof.


    In this case, the fence was NOT built by adjoining landowners at equal expense, or later as a shared expense.
    One of them did not let land lie open.
    They have not otherwise agreed between themselves.

    Therefore, in my reading, this does not apply to the situation listed.
     
  10. Inverness

    Inverness New Member

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    The way I read it was that the fence- as an existing fence that we connected to is co- owned. Did you not read it that way? How do you read it?

    Are there other regulations that might apply? I have reached out to HOA- and they are looking into it.
     
  11. vacliff

    vacliff "You shouldn't say that."

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    The way I read it, and it is a literal interpretation, that the fence must have been built at a joint and equal expense. In otherwords, the fencelines that make up your joint boundary must have been paid for equally between the two boundary owners. If your neighbor built his fence at his own expense, and you built your section at your own expense, then the fence was not a joint and equal expense. Therefore, this does not apply.

    Easiest way is to ask your neighbor. Best case, they say Yes and you're done. Worst case is they say No and you're in the same predicament you have now.
     
  12. KTdid

    KTdid Well-Known Member

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    My original townhouse neighbor wanted to fence in their backyard. They asked multiple times if I intended to fence in my yard as they wanted to split the cost. The house has sold twice since then and not one family has maintained the fence (on their side.) I would never ask them to power wash the algae on the fence facing my yard. If I built the fence, I would not expect them to ask the same of me. This represents co-ownership.
     
  13. vacliff

    vacliff "You shouldn't say that."

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    Well, if I lived in a townhouse and a fence I built needed cleaning, I would clean the "other" side, provided the homeowner granted me access to their property. So, it is not co-ownership.
     
  14. Inverness

    Inverness New Member

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    I greatly appreciate these perspectives. They are helpful. I am presuming based on the responses that there might not be a governing regulation, but resolution will depend on what my neighbor and I can come to terms with. That is a little looser than I hoped for, but may be where it is pending input from HOA. Am I understanding correctly?
     
  15. KTdid

    KTdid Well-Known Member

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    But that's you cliff. And if you stain your fence are you going to insist staining the side facing your neighbor's yard? What if they decide to completely fence in their yard.

    If the HOA sends me a letter complaining about algae on the fence facing my yard - do I tell them the letter should go to my neighbor because he installed the fence?

    This is a townhouse fence which was attached to the privacy panel the builder installed, which separated the backyards. It's on the property line. And once I fence in my yard - then what? Or, I decide to extend the fence on the opposite side of my yard, I now own a fence on one side but not on the other side...now I have two panels but only maintain one. If the fence sits on the property line, as is often the case with townhouses , it's co-owned.

    This was a big topic of conversation when the development was new and homeowners were deciding whether to add decks and fences. If I recall, the general manager said the fence is co-owned. To suggest otherwise opens a can of worms...
     
  16. LvBlands3

    LvBlands3 New Member

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    I live in a townhouse. I stained my side one color to match my color scheme and one of my neighbor's stained their side another color to match their color scheme. It is a wood fence and can be two colors on either side. Done. No agreements or arguements needed. Why is that so difficult?
     
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  17. vacliff

    vacliff "You shouldn't say that."

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    If I stained my paid for and installed fence, I would offer to stain the side facing the neighbor. If they said no, then I wouldn't.
    A builder installed property line fence would, in my opinion, fall under the regulations stated earlier, because it is a "jointly owned" fence between two lots that was paid for equally by both owners (essentially the cost of your townhouse.)

    And, yes, if I received a letter complaining about a fence that I do not own or had paid for, I would tell the HOA to contact the owner of the fence.
     
  18. KTdid

    KTdid Well-Known Member

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    You handled it as it should be.
     
  19. Inverness

    Inverness New Member

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    I have discussed with the HOA and they did not have a quick answer. They are to discuss and let me know. When/If I get an answer I will post for those interested!
     
  20. Inverness

    Inverness New Member

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    It really should be that easy - my question stems from a faulty relationship with the neighbors who are not always so agreeable. Just wanted to make sure I fully understand the rules/regs before engaging - and if there are no governing policies - then see where to go from there. thanks!!
     

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