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Property Line and Fence Laws in North Dakota

Ideally, neighboring property owners live side by side in peace, but in reality that is often far from the case. Many issues can cause disagreements between next door neighbors, including fences and trees along the boundary line. For this reason, many states have passed laws governing these sorts of situations. Read on to learn more about fence and tree laws put in place by the state of North Dakota.

North Dakota Property Line and Fence Laws

In North Dakota, the legislature has passed detailed laws addressing fences that run along boundary lines separating neighbors. These laws define landowners' mutual responsibility for the building and maintenance of boundary fences. Like some other states, North Dakota law also recognizes "fence viewers," who are responsible for resolving disputes involving fences.

Some states have specific laws outlawing "spite fences" built maliciously and for no other purpose than to annoy or harass your neighbor. North Dakota doesn't have laws specifically addressing spite fences; however, the state legislature defines a "legal fence" and many North Dakota cities have building ordinances and codes that regulate the size and placement of fences.

The following chart provides more information about North Dakota laws governing property lines, fences, and tree trimming.

Statutes and Caselaw

  • Boundary Fences:
  • Spite Fences:
    • North Dakota Century Code Section 47-26-01
  • Tree Trimming:
    • Herring v. Lisbon Partners, 823 N.W.2d 493 (N.D. 2012)

Boundary Fences

  • Adjoining landowners are "mutually and equally bound" to maintain boundary fences.
  • If one landowner chooses to erect a fence that exceeds the definition of a "legal fence" as defined by North Dakota law, that landowner must bear the entire cost of the fence.
  • The law appoints members of the board of townships supervisors to act as "fence viewers" to resolve disputes.
  • Boundary fences must be kept in good repair throughout the year, unless both property owners agree otherwise.

Spite Fences

  • North Dakota law doesn't specifically address "spite fences," but it does define a "legal fence" as four and on-half feet tall.
  • Some North Dakota cities also have ordinances governing the construction of fences, which could prevent a neighbor from building a spite fence that exceeds a local ordinance or building code.

Tree Trimming

  • North Dakota law recognizes a property owner's right to "self help" by trimming encroaching tree branches up to the property line.
  • But, if a landowner causes damage to a neighbor's tree in exercising this right, they may be liable for this injury.

Note: State regulations are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Property Line, Fence, and Tree Resources

Get a Free Evaluation of Your Property Dispute

If you find yourself facing a dilemma due to an issue related to a property line, boundary fence, or encroaching tree, you understand how frustrating it can be. A good first step is to learn about your state's laws on the topic. Get started today with a free, no-obligation claim review from a local attorney.

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