Fences And Property Lines
One of the great aspects of being an adult is owning your own home. With it comes a lot of perks and responsibilities. One of the most important responsibilities that you will take on is maintenance and repairs. And while this seems like an obvious statement, there is one aspect I personally never considered. And that is when it comes to shared property lines. I have been fortunate to have great neighbors wherever I’ve lived when this type of issue comes up.
One of the most common things on a shared property line is fences. And when a part of the fence is damaged or needs to be replaced, what do you do? More importantly, who is responsible for fence repair on property line?
This is a problem I had to face and I quickly discovered the answer is not always clear. There are a few different scenarios that may play out depending on your situation. I will go over these with you and help you figure out which one applies to you.
- The person who installed the fence is typically responsible
- In another scenario, the landowner is responsible
- An HOA contract may include fence repairs
- Both neighbors may have equal responsibility
- The fencing company may be responsible if due to improper installation
The general rule is that the person who installed the fence is typically responsible for any repairs that need to be done. However, as you can see above, that is not always the case. Let’s explore these scenarios further too what your best options are.
Responsibility Falls On The Person Who Installed Fence
If the fence was installed by the homeowner, they are typically responsible for any repairs that need to be done. This includes damage done by weather or animals. If you live in a state with specific laws when it comes to fences, you will want to make sure you are aware of them and follow them accordingly.
Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage to fences by weather or animals. So if you experience any type of damage, you will need to come up with a way to fix it. This is usually done in one of two ways: either all yourself or hire someone to do the job for you.
If you choose to do it yourself, be sure and save your receipts. If you choose to hire someone, get quotes from a few different companies. This will help ensure you are getting the best price and that the job is done right.
Responsibility Falls On The Landowner
In another scenario, the landowner is responsible for fence repair on a property line. This typically happens when the fence is installed on the landowner’s property, not on the shared property line. There are a few things to keep in mind if this is your situation.
- The first is that you will want to make sure the fence is installed properly. If it is not and damage occurs, the fencing company may be responsible.
- Secondly, you will need to make sure you are aware of any state or local laws that may apply. Oftentimes, the landowner is responsible for keeping the fence in good condition. If it falls into disrepair, they may be fined.
If you are not sure who owns the land the fence is installed on, it is best to contact your local municipality. They will be able to help you out and guide you in the right direction. They will also likely be able to answer your questions about who is responsible for the fence repair on the property line.
Check With Your HOA
If you live in an HOA-led neighborhood, there may be a contract or agreement in place to cover fence repair on a shared property line. If so, this will be outlined in the HOA rules.
As with anything related to an HOA, you will want to make sure you are clear on what your obligations are when it comes to repairs. You can do that by checking with your HOA, reading the contract, or even contacting an attorney. This will help you avoid any issues down the road.
Many HOA’s will take responsibility for things like:
- Repairing damaged fencing
- Replacing existing fencing
- Reasonable maintenance of fencing
Keep in mind that the HOA is typically not responsible for things like:
- Deterioration due to age or normal wear and tear
- Improper installation, including damage that occurs because of this
- Homeowner negligence, (breaking it yourself somehow)
Both Parties Share Equal Responsibility
In some cases, both neighbors may share equal responsibility for fence repair on a shared property line. This is usually the case when both parties have agreed to it in some way, shape, or form. In many cases, most neighbors are more than happy to help out their neighbors when it comes to fence repair on the shared property line.
This can take many forms, including:
-Working together to fix the problem
-Sharing the cost of repair equally
-Paying for half each time damage occurs
If the parties have an agreement in place, they don’t typically need to go through some formal process. But if one of the parties fails to fulfill their part of the bargain, it may be necessary to take legal action. As with anything related to a contract or an agreement, both parties are responsible for following what was put into place. If one party fails to do so, it can lead to all sorts of issues.
When The Fencing Company Is Responsible
In some cases, the fencing company is responsible for fence repair on a property line. This happens when they put up the fence and it’s not done properly. If damage occurs because of their error, they may be held liable. Some companies may even offer warranties for their work, which can help alleviate some of these concerns.
It is important to note that the fencing company is only responsible for damage that occurs while the fence is under their care. If the fence falls into disrepair after they are no longer involved, they typically will not be responsible.
In the instance you feel there is an issue with the way the fencing company installed your fence, you may want to contact them. And if they are unwilling to help, you may need to look into taking other legal action.
Steps To Take In Fence Repair
Now that we’ve gone over the common scenarios of responsible parties for fence repair, which one relates to your situation? There are some general steps that need to be taken when before repairing a fence on a property line:
- Determine what has caused the damage.
If it was clearly done by the actions of a person then the responsibility is theirs. Again, if it was due to improper installation, contact the fencing company. And if it was simply normal wear or weather then move on to step two.
- Talk with your neighbor.
Discuss the damage and see if an agreement can be made on either who will take on repair or if you will share the burden. If an agreement cannot be made that satisfies you and your neighbor, then check with local guidelines.
- Check with your city and/or HOA.
Contact your city hall or the HOA to see what the laws are with fence repair on property lines. This will help you get a better understanding of who is responsible and what the process may entail.
When Should You Take Legal Action?
If you have tried all the above steps with no resolution, it may be time for legal action. Maybe the responsibility is falling to you and you feel it is unfair. You may want to look into hiring a lawyer and see if they can help you settle the issue. If all else fails, mediation may be an option that helps everyone come out happy and satisfied. This typically costs significantly less than going through formal court proceedings.
What If I Am Buying A New Home?
If you are about to buy a home and notice the fencing needs repair, what should you do? Talk to your realtor and ask about whether or not it is something you’ll need to take care of. Some home buyers may be surprised to learn that they are responsible for fence repair on the property line, even if it’s an existing fence.
You may be able to work the repairs into a closing agreement. This means the seller will take care of the repair before you close on the home. Consult with your realtor for the best route to take.
Should My Neighbor Share Cost For A New Fence?
If your shared property currently has no fencing or needs total replacing, should your neighbors help with that cost? Although it does seem fair to do that if everyone will equally benefit from the fence, they don’t have to help with the cost.
In fact, it’s often not legally required for them to do so. The only time they may be forced to help is if the fence falls under a state or city statute that requires all homeowners on a property to contribute in order to maintain the fence.
If you are looking to build a new fence, it’s best to speak with your neighbor first to see if there are any options. Also, make sure you are within legal bounds to build a fence on property lines.
Can I Remove Fencing From Property Line?
Perhaps the fencing is so damaged, you just want it gone. Or maybe you like the idea of a more open yard. The question is, are you allowed to remove fencing that is on a shared property line?
In most cases, the answer is yes.
Removing the fence does not mean that you are absolved of responsibility for repairs. If the fence is torn down and not replaced, it’s up to the property owners to come to an agreement on who will take care of upkeep. If you live in a state with specific statutes about fencing, then you may have to check into that before taking the fence down.
Again, it is always best to talk with your neighbors before taking any action. This will help prevent any hard feelings and make sure everyone is on the same page. The responsibility of repairing a fence on a shared property line can sometimes be a tricky issue to navigate. By following the steps in this article, you’ll have a better understanding of who is responsible if this issue arises. Thanks for reading!