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Andrew F. Skala and George C. Miller

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Fence dispute with your neighbor? Here’s what to do

On Behalf of | Aug 19, 2021 | civil litigation

It is not particularly uncommon to have disputes with your neighbors. One of the more common disputes that turn up in the legal system is a dispute over a land boundary.

Often, this comes in the form of a fencing dispute. A fence dispute may happen for several reasons, such as not liking the height of a fence, disapproving of where a fence was placed, the appearance of the fence and other issues. In court, the main issue tends to be a boundary dispute, which occurs when someone places the fence in the wrong place.

Placing a fence on a boundary line

It is normal to place fences on boundary lines. A fence on a boundary line will normally belong to both parties unless there is a different arrangement in place.

In friendly scenarios, both neighbors pay for the fence and agree on where it is to be placed. They may also pay for the fence’s upkeep or split the cost of repairs when the fence is damaged.

Property owners usually have the right to cut back any roots, limbs or foliage that come across the boundary, too, so that they can maintain their own property.

What can you do if the fence is in the wrong place?

If the fence is placed incorrectly, then there could be an argument about it. A good rule of thumb is to look at the land survey, if there is one, to determine the boundary line before arguing over it. If there is not a land survey to show you where the property line is, then you and your neighbor may want to have one done.

After you get the land survey, you can then go over the boundary issue together. Is the fence 10 inches too far to the right or left? It may need to come down and be replaced. Is it only an inch off the boundary? You may be okay with leaving it where it is. You could also discuss paying for land that shouldn’t be on your or the neighbor’s side of the fence if that is a problem for you.

If neither of you can communicate about the issue, you could end up in court. If so, it’s wise to get a land survey and to be sure of where the property line is before you take your case before a judge.