Legal Issues with Fences

What Nelson has just written is called a letter of formal notice. If he doesn`t get a response, he can sue Alice in Small Claims Court for money and show that letter — along with all written documents and photos — to the judge. If you live in an area controlled by a homeowners association (HOA), all bets are off. Not only can the HOA exclude fences, but it can require certain types, such as natural cedar wood with a specific location. The concept of fence „use” is a unique semantic jungle. Suffice it to say that a reasonable estimate of what the term means may well be wrong. This is how the term „use” is legally interpreted in different states: since everyone is spending a lot more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be reassessing your relationship with your neighbors. What once seemed like a mere nuisance could now affect your enjoyment and use of your property. What rights do you have in some of the most common neighbourhood disputes and what should you do to protect those rights? If a cow is hit by a vehicle on a highway (an unfortunate event that sometimes occurs), the legal implications of this accident can change depending on whether the accident occurred in a confined or open space.

Using Texas as an example, Ole Jake (of Ace Reid`s Cowpokes) receives the dreaded call from a law enforcement officer at 12:01 p.m. that one of his cows was hit on the county road. The ear tag and tag clearly show that it was his cow. Fortunately, no one was injured; However, the vehicle has been summarized and there are questions about who was to blame. While the legal analysis is likely more thorough, the first two questions might be: Was the highway a U.S. or state highway, and if not, did the county where the accident occurred pass a local ranching law making it a closed county for livestock? Can you get around these issues by installing the fence directly on your property? This type of agreement only binds the signatories, not the future buyers. If you sell the home later, you can show the deal to the potential buyer (or their title insurance company), who may be confused by comparing the property description to the location of the fence. Also, keep in mind that if you abandon the border fence, your neighbor can legally acquire this thin strip of land through an opposing owner after a considerable amount of time.

Neighbors and passers-by often pay close attention to fences. Local planning and permitting departments receive anonymous complaints about fences on a daily basis. Cities usually won`t notice or do anything about it until a complaint is filed. There is a terrible case from Texas that is an argument for banning barbed wire in a residential area. In this case, the developer of a subdivision fenced off the remaining undeveloped land of the land already sold with barbed wire. The result was a barbed wire fence at the back of a courtyard inhabited by a family with children. Harassment under Washington`s law includes acts that „annoy, injure, or endanger the comfort, tranquility, health, or safety of others that render others dangerous in the life or use of property.” An activity constitutes harassment if it unreasonably interferes with a neighbour`s use and enjoyment of the property. What constitutes harassment is a factual inquiry, and the court will assess whether the party accused of harassment is making appropriate use of their property with the rights, interests and amenities that are unique to each case. However, something that is unsightly or offends the mind of a neighbor usually does not make it a nuisance. Traditionally, notification has not been required, but the trend is for municipalities to require notification from neighbors. An example of this is California`s Good Neighbor Fence Act.

It requires 30 days` written notice, as well as details about the proposed building, maintenance costs, schedule and design. Whatever you do, it`s always a good etiquette to talk to your neighbor first. This problem can occur when trees are used as fences and replaced with artificial fencing. For example, when a colleague in New York tried to replace a twelve-foot-long natural fence with a six-foot-long plank fence, he only learned after erecting the fence that the local height limit was four feet. A neighbour filed a lawsuit and the court ordered him to lower it. (11) Even what may have started perfectly legally can then go beyond the law. For example, a beautiful little hedge fence can become a 15-foot natural wall. If the two neighbors love it, nothing is ever said, and it is there. Some states impose special maintenance requirements on natural border fences, i.e. those made of trees or hedges. For example, Illinois requires dividing hedges to be cut to four feet seven years after planting, and to five feet every two years thereafter.

(20) Both owners are responsible for cutting. Iowa requires them to be pruned to a height of five feet twice a year, unless otherwise agreed in writing between neighbors and registered (deposited) at the county land registry office (usually at the courthouse). (21) In some situations, a fence that appears to violate local regulations is completely legal. The court found that the builder of the fence was within his rights and that he was on his own property. Every inch of fence he erected was perfectly fine, and his neighbor had absolutely no right to demolish it. The neighbor was convicted of intentional trespassing and had to pay punitive damages (a form of punishment) for the continuous destruction he had caused under the cover of darkness. (24) A very minor offence is normally not sufficient to trigger assistance from the city or district authorities. If a fence doesn`t fully comply with a local order, law enforcement officials likely won`t want to intervene. And if a neighbor or the city sues, a court can determine whether the order is „substantially complied with.” For example, if part of a fence is a few centimetres too high, but most of it complies with regulations, it can be said that the builder has essentially complied with the law. Courts are generally unwilling to order the removal of an entire fence for an insignificant violation.

Sometimes a neighbor can build an ugly fence for a neighbor out of challenge. Many states have laws that govern „despite fences.” Most of these laws create the presumption that a fence is a nuisance to a neighbor if it is useless, if it is built to annoy a neighbor, and if it is outdated despite fence height restrictions. According to these statutes, the neighbor can sue for his withdrawal. Although rare, neighbors can sometimes sign formal ownership agreements on border fences. In some states, such as Vermont, laws provide a procedure to publicly document (record) written agreements of ownership of fences.