The following is a list of things generally controlled by fence laws:
In most residential areas constructed fences can be six feet in the backyard and four feet in the front yard.
Natural fences, when mentioned in local ordinances, are typically required to be from five to eight feet in height. Whether something is or isn't a natural fence depends on what the local ordinance states are natural fences. Most statutes define a natural fence as trees, shrubs, or the like that grow together thus forming a natural barrier.
It is not uncommon for many properties to have "variances" allowing fence heights to be higher. Check with local authorities if you are concerned whether your property or a neighbor's property has such a variance. To avoid problems later, consult with you neighbor regarding any proposed variances for your property.
If no one complains about a fence, nothing will be done about it. If you have a problem with a fence, first contact your neighbor. Often they don't know a fence violates an ordinance. If that doesn't work, a simple call to the local planning or zoning authority will usually do the trick. The city attorney's office will ask the neighbor to change his fence to conform to regulations. Failure to comply can lead to fines or even lawsuits.
There are no laws prohibiting "ugly fences". Some cities and towns do have local ordinances requiring fences to have a uniform look to them. If you live in a historical area there may be similar ordinances .
City governments can force land owners to remove or repair poorly constructed or dangerous fences. Under "blighted property ordinances" local government can force removal or repair of fences they deem to be dangerous to the local community. In addition "spite fence statutes" allow local governments to force the removal of fences that are high, ugly, and without reasonable use.
Fences on boundary lines belong to both owners when both are using the fence. Both owners are responsible for keeping the fence in good repair, and neither may remove it without the other's permission. Some states provide statutory penalties for failure to contribute to fence repair, maintenance, or replacement.
If speaking to your neighbor doesn't work, a call to the local planning or zoning commission should. If you are having no luck with either, contacting an attorney may be your only option. Some state statutes allow you to resolve fence issues and sue various parties for contributions to that resolution. Speaking to a property lawyer to determine what your options are against your neighbor or the local government will be your best option in that case
Last Modified: 02-06-2015 10:08 AM PSTLaw Library Disclaimer
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