Can My Neighbor Put Up A Fence Without My Permission?

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

Imagine the following scenario. You and your neighbor have been living next to each other for years, and you never really had any issues. Yet, one day, you notice a construction crew near your yard. They’re putting up a fence! You’re confused because you’re not really sure whether or not they are allowed to do this. Is this even legal?

Your neighbor cannot put up a fence without your permission if any part of the fence is going to reside on your property. However, if the fence is entirely on their property, they do not need permission. Check with your local authorities for state laws regarding fences for more information, as each state is different.

If you recently saw a neighbor erecting a fence, you might feel a little slighted or confused. You might even find it to be an eyesore. Wondering if you have a right to speak up? This article will help you understand the legal side of putting up a fence.

When Fences are Shared

Sometimes, the laws dictating who owns the fence state that a fence can belong to both neighbors. While it is not common for people to build fences with the express purpose of ending up with a fence owned in part by their neighbor, it does happen. Often, the dual ownership is a result of poor planning.

Poor planning can mean many things but in the case of fences taking on a new owner, it usually comes down to where exactly the fence was installed. Most fence laws state that fence belongs to whomever owns the property hosting the fence.

So, when fences are inadvertently installed on a neighbor’s property, some of the ownership of that fence goes to the neighbor.

Are You Allowed To Put Up A Fence Without A Neighbor’s Permission?

The short answer is yes, but the long answer is a little different. It depends on your location. In most states, you can put up a fence if the following things are true:

  • Your fence will be on your personal property, not shared property. This is the most important thing to keep in mind when putting up a fence.
  • Your property is not part of a communal compound and you’re not renting it. If you live on a shared compound, you may need to ask for the compound owner’s permission.
  • You don’t have an HOA or condo association that determines fence regulations. Some HOAs require a written letter asking permission from the board before you can do anything.
  • The fence cannot be deemed an eyesore. If you are looking to make a weird fence or an unusually tall fence, you might need to get a special permit.

Can You Report A Neighbor For Building A Fence?

Sometimes, neighbors who erect fences can be reported for their new fence. However, it’s not common. The only time that you can successfully report a neighbor and get an order to take down the fence is if the fence goes against local ordinances. If you can prove that the fence is an eyesore, excessively tall, or devalues property, you can potentially report them.

Should You Report A Neighbor For Building A Fence On Their Property?

Though you can potentially report your neighbor, it’s not always a good idea. This is a good way to foul up a relationship with your neighbors, especially if the fence was erected for a good reason. Before you try to get your neighbors reported, it’s a good idea to talk things out with them.

In many situations, the fence in question won’t cause a serious drop in property value or your quality of life. Most fences are erected for a good reason, like keeping in pets or walling in a pool. So, why make waves if it’s not hurting you and could potentially make life easier for your neighbor?

What Can You Do If A Neighbor Built A Fence On Your Property?

If you’re dealing with a neighbor that decided to build a fence on your property, they’re encroaching on your property. The first thing you should do is contact the neighbor and ask to see their deed copy. If the copy doesn’t have matching boundaries or if your neighbor refuses, you will need to contact a surveyor to determine the boundary.

From here, you can choose to come up with a mutual agreement to the boundary if you so choose. If you can’t come to an agreement, you can sue them and tear down the fence. Should it get to this point, the best thing you can do is hire a lawyer to help you figure out what your options are.

How To Build A Fence Without Your Neighbor’s Permission

If you want to make sure that you can build a fence without your neighbor’s permission, the work to make sure that you don’t get fined or sue is going to be on you. Thankfully, you don’t have to do too much work to make this happen. Here are the steps you need to take prior to calling a fencing company:

  • Research local ordinances. You want to make sure that the fence you want to erect is actually up to local code. We suggest asking about local height maximums as well as codes about alerting neighbors to fence erection. If you are required to ask neighbors for permission, just ask them. Trying to pull a fast one could get you sued or fined.
  • Check with your local HOA. What your town requires for fence building might not be the same as what your HOA requires. If you belong to a homeowners’ association, you need to find out what the regulations are when it comes to fencing, too.
  • Choose a fence that works with both sets of rules. This will make sure that you don’t get written up over the fence quality. When choosing a fence, try to avoid styles that are extremely unusual as they are more likely to get a citation.
  • Prepare to have your fence fall on your property line. Your fence will need to be on your property line to make this work. No sharesies! To make sure that you are “in the clear” legally, erect your fence one to two feet away from your property line.

Can My Neighbor Charge Me For A Fence They Put Up?

When the neighbor decides that it might be nice to have some of their project funded by you, they often decide to include you in their plans. The goal, of course, is to turn you into a partial financier.

If the fence is on their property, they are going to be the ones who are solely responsible for the cost and maintenance of the fence. If you have a fence that is split down the boundary line, it becomes a state law issue. Most states will have each neighbor contribute to the cost of the fence.

When to Share the Expense of Your Neighbor’s Fence

Although you are not required to help pay for your neighbor’s fence project, there are certain situations when you might actually want to help your neighbor pay for their fence.

An example of a time like this is when the part of the fence shared between you and your neighbor matches the rest of your fence. By helping your neighbor with a portion of the cost of their own project, you are also improving at least one of the boundaries on your property.

Another example of when you might wish to help pay for a portion of your neighbor’s fence is if the fence rests on your property as well as theirs. In this case, not only would you want to include yourself in the project, but they would need to ask you for your opinion, before doing anything with the fence.

Related Questions

Can neighbors share the cost of a fence?

This is a fairly common thing to do. If you both agree to erect a fence together, it’s possible to agree to split both the cost and maintenance of a fence 50/50. These agreements are best done on paper.

How do you know if the fence is yours?

If the fence lies on your property line, it’s generally assumed that the fence is yours. Fences that exist on shared property are generally seen as shared property, with neighbors each claiming half of the ownership.

How do you prevent a nosy neighbor from being a problem?

A nosy neighbor can be a serious pain, but most of the time, you can curb their behavior by just erecting a fence or getting a privacy hedge. If your neighbor still is problematic after you install a fence, then you might want to look into legal options to keep them at bay.

Can a neighbor affix things to my fence?

If your neighbor adds planters or other items to your fence, then they’re technically encroaching on your property. This means that they have to ask your permission before they do this. Otherwise, you can potentially bring them to court over the matter.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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