Fences are great because they provide that much needed space between you and your neighbors. Unfortunately, if you want to put up a new one, you’ll have to consult the other party. Depending on if you like your neighbors or not, this might sound like something you really want to avoid. But even if you and your neighbors are the best of friends, knowing how this all works can help eliminate potential conflict.
Let’s dive in with some of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to fence etiquette.
This can depend on the state, but the answer is probably yes. For example, here in Washington State, a landowner building a boundary fence along a property line is allowed to seek reimbursement from their neighboring owner for half the fence’s cost.
You should also know that the person building the fence must provide notice of construction to the adjoining landowner prior to building the fence, and the two of you are together responsible for the maintenance of the fence.
There’s a law for everything it seems, and in this case, an injunction (“an authoritative warning or order”) may be issued to the erector of a fence if the reason was to spite, annoy or injure you. This is known as a “spite fence,” and if you think this has happened in your case, you could consult a legal expert.
This will depend on your jurisdiction; some areas will have stipulations about how from the property line you can build a fence. It’s a good idea to check with your Homeowners’ Association on this matter.
This depends on if your neighbour can prove that your fence is in fact trespassing on his or her property. Your neighbor would likely seek professional assessment to determine if your fence is on their property. If it’s found that you are trespassing, your neighbour can have your fence removed, depending on your state’s laws.
If both of your properties share the fence, you are both responsible for the maintenance of it. Therefore, your neighbour is responsible for paying at least half of the damage. If the damage is to a fence which belongs solely to you, your neighbor is responsible for property damage and can ultimately be taken to small claims court if damages aren’t paid.
The general rule and properly accepted fence etiquette here is to face the good side towards your neighbour’s property, so that you would see the “back” of the fence from the inside of your house. This is considered standard, but it also looks better from the outside of your property.
Here are some general rules to follow to ensure as little conflict as possible:
1: Know the by-laws in your area. Get in touch with your city’s municipal office and find out exactly what the legalities are in your situation.
2: Open up the conversation before any building, painting or replacing takes place. Discuss your intentions with your neighbour.
3: Depending on how the conversation with your neighbour goes, it might be a good idea to establish where the official property lines are and get on the same page to avoid future conflicts or “fence war.” To find out where the property lines are, you can check your property deed, your property survey, or visit your assessor’s office and request a property map with clearly defined property lines. If you really want to be absolutely sure without any room for common error, you can always hire a surveyor.
There you have it! Follow these fence etiquette rules and tips to ensure the smoothest possible fence building, replacing, painting or upgrading.