If my tenants are moving out, do I need to reimburse them for the cost of a fence that they chose to put up?

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If my tenants are moving out, do I need to reimburse them for the cost of a fence that they chose to put up?

I am selling my residential single-family income property which is on 2 acres. When my tenants moved in 8 years ago, they put up a fence around the property at their expense. The tenants now want me to reimburse them $3,000 at close of escrow or they said they would take down the fence and take it with them. When I initially agreed to the fence the tenants made it clear that they would pay for it and did not expect me to reimburse them. Unfortunately I don’t have anything in writing about this transaction.

Asked on July 14, 2016 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Any permanent installations tenants do with the landlord's permission or consent become part of the property and will belong to the landlord unless and only to the extent that there is a written agreeement to the contrary. In the absence of an agreement stating otherwise, the fence has to stay--if they remove it, you could sue them for its value and for the cost of correcting any damage they do, such as to landscaping, and you are under no obligation to repay or reimburse them for it, unless you had previously agreed to do so. They voluntarily  chose to install a fence for their own benefit on property they did not own; they cannot now, after the fact, seek payment for it or remove it from the property on which they installed it.


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