Keeping Cool with Neighbors: Fencing

201702.07

White Picket FenceNowadays, finding yourself at the wrong side of the law could lead to jail term.

In many cases, the court will require more than a written promise that you will make a court appearance. A financial guarantee is more acceptable if you want to leave prison and return to court when your case is due. Bail refers to a process where you pay an amount of money to be released from jail based on your promise to attend court during your criminal trial. Bail proceedings vary but they are generally held to decide whether a person should be granted bail and the amount of bail that is appropriate in a particular case. The best way to avoid imprisonment is to know the law and in this web page you will learn about fence laws.

What is the Highest One Can Build a Fence on their Property?

In residential areas, artificial backyard fences are restricted to six feet whereas front yard fences are limited to four feet. These restrictions also affect natural fences- trees or bushes- that meet the law’s definition of a fence. Trees that grow together in a row and barricade a specific compound are considered a fence. The height restrictions for natural fences are between 5 and 8 fee. However, if you want exemption from these restrictions, you can appeal to the city for a variance. A variance is granted for good reasons like when you want to shield your home from an unsightly or noisy neighboring use like a gas station. You can also be exempted from fencing restrictions if your fence was constructed before the law on fences was passed.

What is a Boundary Fence?

Also known as a partition fence or division fence, this is a fence that stands on the line dividing two properties and is utilized by both property owners. What qualifies as use depends on the state laws of the neighborhood in question. In some states, use refers to occupancy like using land up to the place where the fence stands. If you have planted crops up to the place where the fence is erected, you are using that fence. In other states, to use a fence is to join it. For example, if your neighbor attaches another fence to the boundary fence, they are considered to be using the fence. In many states, a boundary fence is deemed to be used when one’s property is enclosed by that fence.

What Happens When My Neighbor Constructs an Unsightly Fence?

In most cases, local laws do not dictate the design or style of residential fences. However, some ordinances may be in place for fences that are poorly or dangerously constructed. In many states, there are laws against spite fences ( a fence that spites their neighbor). According to these laws, a fence is regarded a nuisance if it is serves no purpose but to annoy or provoke a neighbor. In such cases, you can sue your neighbor to have the fence removed.

What Action Can You Take If Your Neighbor Constructs a Fence Illegally?

Municipalities do not send fence inspectors to ensure that fence laws are kept. In many cities, a non-conforming fence continues to stand as long as there are no filed complaints. If you inform your neighbor about the fencing laws and they fail to comply, alert the zoning department in your state. Your neighbor will be asked to comply with the fencing laws failure to which they will be fined or even sued for non-compliance.

When Are You Required to Pay for a Newly Constructed Fence?

When your neighbor builds a fence, they own it and are responsible for maintaining it unless you start using it. The definition of use varies depending on the state where you are- as explained above. However, in most cases, you are considered to be using a fence when your property is enclosed by the newly erected fence. Once you start using the fence, you are a co-owner of the fence and as such are required to cost share in the fence’s construction.

Who Repairs and Maintains a Boundary Fence? 

Both property owners are equally responsible for the maintenance and repair of a boundary fence. This rule holds unless the owners have a different agreement. For example, the agreement may be that one neighbor is responsible for repairs, maybe because they have a pet and are concerned for its safety.