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Neighbor Fence Disputes

You've just moved into your first home. As you consider renovations, it's essential to know where the boundary lines of your property begin and end. You want to ensure you won't accidentally change something on your neighbor's property. Your neighbor might get angry or even file a lawsuit.

Perhaps you think the fence is on a boundary line you commonly own with your neighbor. You might want your neighbor to help pay for the cost. But your neighbor has other things in mind. What does the law say?

The following is information to keep in mind about fences and neighbor disputes. You can easily avoid boundary disputes. You just need to know a bit about them and the local laws and state laws governing property.

Fences and Local Ordinances

Local fence ordinances typically regulate how one uses or puts up their fence around their property. This can include the:

  1. Type of material such as wood or metal
  2. Area where the fence goes
  3. Shape and color
  4. Appropriate height

But this could vary from state to state. For example, North Carolina property law isn't as strict on residents with fences unless they own a farm with livestock. If you don't have livestock, you must keep the fence within the bounds of your land unless there is a contrary agreement with your neighbor.

Homeowner associations (HOAs) can also impose fence restrictions on residents living within certain subdivisions. The rules from the HOA will focus on:

  • Height
  • Property lines
  • Color
  • Style

The main focus for HOAs is keeping the aesthetics of the community consistent. This ensures they align with the rules created by the communities' covenants and bylaws.

Ordinances and HOA rules can change. Always check your local and community updates to ensure you follow all regulations and any homeowners' association restrictions.

Fences on Boundary Lines

Unless property owners agree otherwise, fences on a boundary line belong to both owners. Good neighbors should agree to split the cost of the repair of fences or common boundary walls. Both owners are responsible for maintaining a good fence. Neither may remove it without the other's permission. If a neighbor's tree branches hang over the fence, most states agree that:

  1. An affected property owner may cut tree limbs and remove roots where they cross over the property line
  2. Keeping in mind the disclaimer that such pruning will not damage the basic health and welfare of the tree

Alterations, Replacements, and More

If you are thinking of building a new fence or simply want to replace the old one, there are some basic rules to follow for the best results. The most important rule is to always consult with your neighbor before beginning work or repairs. That includes attaching anything to the fence, such as lattice, signs, or canvas. You should also have an open conversation with your neighbor and, if they agree, get it in writing. If you are having trouble communicating with your neighbor, seek legal advice from a real estate attorney before making your next move.

Neighbor Fence Disputes: More Resources

If you or someone you know has a dispute with their neighbor about a fence or another land-related issue, you can continue your research by clicking on the links below.

Get Legal Help to Resolve a Fence Dispute With Your Neighbor

Disputes with neighbors can be difficult to resolve, especially if you and your neighbor can't discuss the situation calmly and rationally. If you're involved in a dispute with your neighbor and would like some help resolving the issue, speaking with a skilled real estate attorney near you today may be a good idea.

Knowing when and how to handle legal action in a fence dispute is essential. Getting the legal help you need from an experienced real estate attorney is crucial. Whether it's a dispute related to a fence, title insurance, or another real estate law matter, a lawyer-client relationship helps.

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