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Do good fences make good neighbors? Heck, who even owns the fence?

Friday, November 18, 2016by  Derek Wing

tree leaning on fenceTurns out, Northwesterners are eager to claim ownership of the fence that surrounds their property. But responsibility for fixing it? Well, not so much, according to the latest PEMCO Poll.

Among people we asked, about half said they own the longest stretch of fence dividing their land from their neighbors and are responsible for maintaining it. (About a third said fence ownership is shared and, oddly, only 10% said the neighbors owned it. The rest didn’t know.)

But regardless of who owns the fence, most respondents thought if a tree falls on it, the owner of the errant tree should pay to fix it.

And that’s where things get tricky.

For weather-related damage like a blown-down tree, the owner of the fence – not the owner of the tree – is on the hook. Only if the tree’s owner knew it was a hazard (and negligently did nothing about it) would his or her insurance pay. In the Poll, just 18% of people got it right.

Luckily, most of us will never need to haggle it out. While you may worry that big ol’ fir in the neighbor’s yard will one day land on your fence (or dining room table!), your property is much more likely to be felled by another foe: a broken pipe or burst washer hose inside your own home. Last year, PEMCO paid three times more for water-damage claims than claims related to wild weather!

Read full results of the poll of 1,200 Washington and Oregon residents by Seattle’s FBK Research. 

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