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Property Line and Fence Laws in Texas

Texas leads the nation in the number of farms and ranches it contains, with 248,800 farms covering 130.2 million acres. It makes sense, then, that landowners in Texas occasionally have disputes regarding property lines, fences, and trees. Whether you live in the country or the city, it's smart to know your rights and responsibilities about your property lines. Read on to learn more about fence laws in Texas.

Fencing Laws in Texas

Over the years, Texas courts have issued decisions about property lines and fences, which have shaped the law on the issue. Texas case law states that while property owners have no obligation to build a fence on the border of their property, if neighbors agree to jointly maintain such a fence, this agreement is legally binding.

Some cases involve the erection of a "spite fence," which is a solid structure built purely to interfere with a neighbor's enjoyment of his land and not to benefit the owner. While motivation for building is typically not considered, in Texas a fence built for malicious purposes may be found to be a nuisance.

Tree Trimming Laws

Texas law also addresses issues involving trees along border lines. While one neighbor may own the tree, frequently roots and branches can naturally encroach on a neighbor's property. Texas law defines who owns any disputed tree, who has the right to trim branches on an encroaching tree, and who is liable for damages caused by and to the tree.

The following chart provides more information about property line and fence laws in Texas.

Case Law

Boundary Fences

  • Landowner in Texas has no legal obligation to share in costs or future maintenance of fence built by neighbor, unless there was prior agreement to do so.
  • If a boundary fence is destroyed by natural causes, a neighbor has no legal obligation to contribute to reconstruction.
  • If only one neighbor pays for the fence, it is not a common fence but rather the exclusive property of the builder.
  • If neighbors agree to maintain a portion of the fence, this agreement is legally binding and enforceable.

Spite Fences

  • A landowner has a right to erect a fence or other structure even if it obstructs a neighbor's view, lights, or air.
  • Motive for erecting a fence is typically irrelevant, but property owners can't use their property in a way that constitutes a nuisance.

Tree Trimming

  • Trees forming the actual boundary line between properties can't be removed without the consent of both landowners.
  • A landowner has the right to trim limbs or branches of boundary trees that reach onto his/her property so long as no damage to the other property owner.
  • Branches can be trimmed only up to the property line.
  • A tree's owner is liable for damages caused to an adjacent landowner's property by falling branches.

Note: State laws 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 Resources

Have an Attorney Help You with Your Texas Property Dispute

If you live in Texas and are in a dispute with your neighbor about property lines, boundary fences, or trees, there are resources available to you. In addition to familiarizing yourself with the Texas case law on the topic, you may want to speak with a legal professional. Consider meeting with a Texas real estate attorney in your neighborhood.

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