Can we collect money from a neighbor that won’t pay for a fence that we built between the houses?

UPDATED: Feb 17, 2012

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Can we collect money from a neighbor that won’t pay for a fence that we built between the houses?

My husband built a fence between our house and our neighbors house. We did not have a contract with them for the payment but they had said that they would help split the cost. The fence has been done for over a year now and they have still not paid us. There house is for sale now. Do we have any legal rights with out a contract?

Asked on February 17, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You would only have legal rights if there was a contract; without a contract, or agreement to contribute, you cannot make another person pay for something you built.

That said, you may have a contract. A contract does not have to be in writing to be enforceable; oral agreements (sometimes called verbal) are often enforceable, too. The issue with oral agreements is proving them--that they existed, and also what their terms were.

Assuming you could prove that there was an oral agreement with your neighbors to contribute, you may be able to recover money from them. However, if they will not pay voluntarily, you would need to sue them to seek payment, which may or may not be worth it.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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