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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 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.


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