Property Fence Laws[ssba]
“Good fences make good neighbors,” or so says Robert Frost. Property fences have many uses, from keeping your kids safe inside to keeping that nasty neighbor dog off your property.
What Happens When a Neighbor Builds a Fence
When a neighbor builds a fence, many people hope the fence is visually pleasing from the outside. Not as common a concern, but legally much more significant, is whether the fence is built near the property line on the neighbor’s side, on the property line, or over the property line onto your property.
What Recourse Do You Have?
If you think your neighbor has built or is building a fence on your side of the property line, there are several steps you can take. First, you are encouraged to speak with your neighbor. What, exactly, is he relying on in determining the property line? Did your neighbor employ a professional land surveyor to mark the property? Has a land survey been performed in the last ten years? Or is your neighbor relying on memory, or guessing.
Property fence laws are designed to protect both parties. There is no law prohibiting a property owner from putting the fence exactly on the property line, nor does putting the fence well inside the property line limit property ownership. However, putting the fence beyond the property line is trespassing.
If talking with your neighbor doesn’t help, you may have no recourse but to take him to court. You can ask for an injunction, to stop your neighbor from continuing fence construction, or, if the fence is already complete, you can ask for a court order requiring your neighbor remove the fence.
What Happens if You Do Nothing?
If you do nothing right away, you will have a fence on your property. If you do nothing for a course of years, you may actually end up giving your neighbor the property within the fence. This is based on a theory of “adverse possession.” When someone uses another’s land, possessing it as if it is their own, eventually, they can become owners of the property if certain conditions are met.
Make Certain You are Correct
If you think someone has put a fence on your property, take the time to get a land survey to determine if you are correct, if one hasn’t been done in the past ten years. This survey, along with testimony, will be critical in court. Property fence laws prohibit ignoring the legal boundary.
If You are Having a Fence Dispute
If you are having a fence dispute, contact us. Property fence laws are specific, and fact based. Ignoring an illegally placed fence could result in a loss of property you rightfully own. Don’t let this happen to you. Give us a call today.