A northwest Albuquerque homeowner’s experience with replacing a shared backyard fence may get some neighbors thinking about what not to do.
The homeowner says without any notice, her neighboring property owner recently demolished and replaced the shared fence between the two homes, leaving her with a “tacky” backyard separator.
However, beyond talking it out with her neighbor, there may not be much the city can do because of a lack of rules over fences.
“I think it was very unprofessional,” said Danette Petersen of the recent backyard fence that sprung up in her yard.
In late June, Petersen came home to find one of the three sides of her backyard fence had been completely removed and her dog let out in the process. Not knowing who did it or why, she posted about her missing fence on the website “Nextdoor.com.”
“I was almost in tears because I thought, ‘what happened, what’s going on?'” said Petersen.
She didn’t find out until several days after her Nextdoor.com post that the neighboring property owner had paid to demolish and replace the fence. Petersen says she was never told about the project ahead of time.
“No warning at all,” said Petersen.
About a week after the fence was removed, Petersen says the new fence was built in a day, but without her input or an opportunity to pitch in for payment.
She says the “unprofessional” quality is noticeable in several places. The fence builder used extra two-by-fours to close gaps in some places. In another spot, a broken wooden fence post was left in the ground. The fence builder even left several screws poking through the fence.
“They didn’t measure for the posts correctly, obviously,” said Petersen.
Petersen says along with damaging her backyard drip system piping, the fence building also stuck her yard with the backside of the fence.
“I’m looking and I’m like, ‘this is tacky, my side never looked tacky like this,'” said Petersen. “I don’t want my side looking tacky, especially if I ever want to resell my home.”
Petersen says the neighboring property owner doesn’t live at the now vacant home, which used to be a rental. She says while she’s spoken to the property owner, she hasn’t been able to discuss “what’s next.”
“I would like to work it out with him, but he doesn’t contact me,” said Petersen.
Working with the neighbor may be the only option though. The city of Albuquerque and state of New Mexico have minimal regulations over the construction of backyard fences.
“Other than height and the materials that are used in building the fence, there are really no other regulations,” said Carmelina Hart, a spokeswoman for the city of Albuquerque’s Planning Department.
The rules are relatively simple. Most residential backyard fences can’t stand over six feet tall and can’t be constructed with materials like razor wire.
The city requires anyone building a fence under six feet tall to file for a $25 zoning permit.
“It’s just letting them know that you are going to build (a fence) there,” said Hart.
If the fence is over six feet tall, the city requires a more specific “building permit,” which undergoes an approval process.
There are no city regulations that detail fencing aesthetics, i.e. which neighbor gets the backside of the fence.
“You need to work with your neighbor,” said Hart.
Petersen says she’s still hoping her neighbor will get back to her about the fence she had no say in.
“I would like for him to come in make my side look decent too,” said Petersen.
KRQE News 13 contacted the nextdoor property owner Wednesday night. He admitted that he hasn’t recently gotten in touch with Petersen. He also said he’s aware of the issue and promised that he’s trying to make an effort to fix it.