Dear PoP – Do bad fences make bad neighbors?


“Dear PoP,

Attached is a photo of the fence behind our house. As you can clearly see, it is not in the best of conditions. When we moved in this summer, there were hornets nesting in the “gate” and I had to soak the wood with bug killer to make it safe to go on the patio. It could give the leaning tower of Pisa a run for its money. It’s at the point where several of the holes in the fence are big enough for my two dogs to fit through if there was something (a squirrel perhaps) worth chasing. It needs to be fixed. The awkward part is that we are renting the house (SE DC Capitol Hill) and the owners/landlords have told us it’s not their fence, it’s the neighbors’. I have asked the landlords to address this issue with the neighbors but they live down in Maryland (like two hours away) and trying to find time for them to visit to address home issues is tough. I’m the kind of person that wants to walk over, knock on their door, and ask them to repair it because it’s becoming unsafe and obviously unsightly. We shouldn’t be able to not enjoy our patio because of the neighbors’ negligence although I also know fences are not inexpensive. Suggestions? Are there any codes that cover fences in DC? Do we suck it up and deal until we have to go knock on their door to liberate our dogs from their yard?”

A couple years ago I asked if good fences made good neighbors?. This is a slightly different scenario. What would you guys recommend in this situation? I’d think that the landlord should approach the owners of the fence. Since they live far away, perhaps they could call the owners of the fence? What do you guys think?

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