Do Good Fences Really Make Good Neighbors? 3 Common Fence Infractions And What To Do About Them

23 December 2014
 Categories: , Blog


As the old saying goes, good fences make good neighbors. But, what if that fence is causing a scuffle between the two of you? While it is ideal for you both to work out the difference between yourselves, sometimes you have to involve the law. Here are some examples of how you can have fence laws enforced:

The Fence is Too High

In most towns, fences are restricted to a certain height, typically six feet in the back yard. You may not think that the height of your neighbor's fence will affect your life. However, it is important to remember that this doesn't apply to just constructed fences. 

Many people like to install natural fences in the form of trees or shrubbery. In many municipalities, these natural fences must comply with local fencing laws. If your neighbor has planted a natural border and it begins to encroach upon your property, you are within your right to report it to the city officials.

The Fence is Unattractive

There could be any number of reasons a neighbor would build an unattractive fence. Attraction is often within the eye of the beholder, so what you think is ugly may be really beautiful to your neighbor. Unfortunately, if the fence is in bad taste (by your standards) there really isn't a way to have any laws enforced to have it removed. However, if the fence is ugly because it is falling down and dilapidated, you may be able to report it as blighted property. The neighbor would be forced to either repair the fence or tear it down.

The Fence is a Boundary on Both Pieces of Property and is in Disrepair

When one neighbor builds a fence as a boundary between the two homes, that fence becomes dual property in the eyes of the law. That means that both homeowners are responsible for its maintenance and repair. If the fence is in disrepair, you need to discuss it with the neighbor and work out a way that you can both pay for the repair costs. If the neighbor doesn't want to comply, you can have it fixed and then sue the neighbor for their portion of the costs. What you are not allowed to do is tear the fence down without permission from the neighbor.

Good neighbors make good boundaries, but so do good fences. If you think your neighbor is only out to annoy you by installing an ugly fence or not maintaining it properly, you may be able to file a complaint with the local police claiming that the fence is in its current conditions due to spite. Being served with a summons to appear before a judge is a quick way to get action. If you have questions about what you can legally do about a fence dispute, contact a firm, such as Madigan & Scott Inc., for advice.