I recently moved into an older home with fences between my home and my neighbor's home. Based the way the fences are constructed, I believe that they are owned by the neighbors and not myself. One of the fences is in bad shape - it is rotted and ready to fall down in a year or two, and the part of the fence facing the street and not my house has completely fallen over and is resting on the neighbor's lawn.
I would like to get this fence replaced. However, I am not sure how to approach the neighbor because I have never communicated with this neighbor before and I am not generally comfortable with cold introductions. Further, based on the state of the fence and yard in general the neighbor either does not care much about the outside of their house or does not have much money to spend on upkeep (but I do not actually know either of these to be fact).
Since I have no prior contact with the neighbor and am unsure about their commitment to a good fence or financial ability to contribute to its upkeep, I am not sure how to go about asking about getting it replaced. My proposed options are:
- (Introduce myself) "It looks like our shared fence is going to fall over in a year or so. Would you be interested in splitting the costs of replacing the fence?"
- (Introduce myself) "It looks like our shared fence is going to fall over in a year or so. Would it be OK if I have it replaced?" (I would be comfortable covering the costs of replacing the entire fence myself.)
My concern with the first approach is that I am essentially putting the neighbor on the spot asking for money, and possibly making them feel bad if they do not want to replace the fence. My concern with the second approach is that it may come across as acting superior if I suggest to pay for the fence myself. Which way is most likely to result in a) not offending the neighbor and b) a new fence?