If we attached to a neighbor’s existing fence 5 years ago after asking for permission, can they ask us to detach our fence or has it been too long?

We have since had a personal dispute and they claim that we did not ask permission. We did ask verbally.

Asked on October 28, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Legally, if they gave you permission, and the permission was not conditional (e.g. it wasn't something like, "you can attach, but you'll have to remove it if we later ask you to"), then they cannot now renege or retract that position: you were given an open-ended license or permission to attach to the fence, and also acted in reasonable reliance on their representation that you had permission.
Practically, if they insist on your taking it down and are prepared to go to court, since nothing is in writing, to a large extent it will become "he said, she said"--a judge will have to decide which of you is more credible under the circumstances.
Also, bear in mind that even if you, say, win in court, they would still have the right to take down their own fence, if they're willing to go to that length, which would then necessarily take down any attached fence. It may be best to agree to remove your fence, given the possibility of litigation (which can be expensive and time consumming) and given also that at the end of the day, they could take down your fence by taking down their own.


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