Have you been curious lately if you can put a fence next to your neighbor’s fence? Perhaps their fence is unattractive and you don’t even want to look at it anymore. But, is it even legal to do so?
You are allowed to build a fence next to your neighbor’s fence but it must remain in your property line. You will need to check with local laws regarding this because they can differ depending on the state.
Fencing can be very confusing and knowing specific laws is crucial in this process. Often in new homes already settled, neighbors will have fences already made, and these end up making a mismatched look in your yard.
Keep reading to learn how to build your fence and the proper laws you will need to follow.
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What You Can and Cannot Do
Before we start planning the fence of your dreams, let’s discuss the dos and don’ts of building a fence right next to your neighbor’s.
Can I Build a Fence Next to My Neighbor’s Fence?
It is legal for you to build a fence next to your neighbor’s fence if your fence does not cross the property line. Be sure to check your local laws on what they suggest because they can differ depending on the state.
To confirm that the fence you are building is on your land, it’s best to build as far into your property as possible. You can also hire a land surveyor to find out what your exact property lines are.
If you have proof that your fence is on your property you shouldn’t have any legal issues in the future. These guidelines include second fences and back-to-back fences.
Can I Build a Second Fence Next to My Neighbors?
You are allowed to build a second fence next to your neighbor’s if your fence remains behind your property line. You may only build on what counts as your property. Normally, if you are building a second fence, you build it 2-8 inches away from your property line.
Your neighbor shouldn’t be able to force you to not build a fence if it is on your own property, unless it will block their view. You will need to know exactly where your property lines are to prove this which can be found in your land survey.
Can You Put Fences Back-to-Back?
You can put fences back-to-back as long as your fence is on your property and it isn’t too close to the property line. Most likely, your municipality will require you to build your fence at least 2-8 inches away from the property line.
Although you can put two fences back-to-back, you can’t actually put two fences right up next to each other. Normally, laws require a bit of a gap between the two fences to allow for proper maintenance.
You might also enjoy our post on If Your Neighbor Can Move Your Fence
Can I Connect My Fence to My Neighbor’s?
If the fence is on your property line, you both have ownership of the fence so you can connect to the said fence. However, if your neighbor’s fence is not on the property line, it belongs to them and you can’t attach anything to it.
Additionally, before doing anything that involves a part of your neighbor’s property you should contact them first. That way you won’t have to face any legal issues in the future.
Also, check your region’s bylaws on fencing as they can differ depending on the region. Any fence you build usually needs to be within 2 – 8 inches of your property.
However, you are still required to maintain the areas outside that fence. Make sure you know where your property line is before building any fence.
Can I Ask My Neighbor if I Can Share His Fence With Him?
You can absolutely ask your neighbor if you can share his fence with him. In fact, communication with your neighbor is highly encouraged during this process so both parties are aware of the situation.
Sharing fence costs is a common agreement made between neighbors and can be highly beneficial for both parties.
Normally, these types of agreements have a fence on the property line so both parties have legal ownership of the fence.
What is a Shared Fence?
A shared fence or a boundary fence is a fence located between two properties on the property line which is owned by multiple neighbors. All owners are responsible for repairs but not aesthetic changes.
All owners are required to pay to repair any damages but not all owners are required to pay if one of the owners wants to make an aesthetic change. Legally, no one can force you to help pay for a fence if it’s not for repairs.
The Laws Regarding Fences
Now that you know the dos and don’ts of building a fence next to your neighbors, we now have to dig a little deeper into the laws. Oh, so fun!
What is the Law on Fencing Boundaries?
Generally, a fence that is directly on a property line is considered a boundary fence and is owned by both neighbors. Fences that are on either side of a property line belong to only one neighbor.
Boundary fences are maintained by both parties unless there’s a previous agreement that states only one neighbor is responsible for all the maintenance and costs.
If a fence is on your side of the property line, that fence is solely yours. Your neighbor is allowed to build an additional fence beside it as long as they follow additional bylaws that are specific for your area.
What are the Rules on Boundary Fences?
If you and your neighbor share a boundary fence, each neighbor must manage an equal portion of the fence. When someone has to fix a part of their fence they can ask the other owners to pay up to 20 percent.
For farming land, it is required that you build a fence dividing property lines. If one of the neighbors neglect to pay their part of the fence, the other can recover 20 percent of the cost for five years as long as the land is used to care for animals.
You might also enjoy our post on If Your Neighbor Can Remove Your Boundary Fence
Do Fences Need Planning Permission?
Fences normally don’t require a permit or permission to build but make sure to check the by-laws where you live because it can change based on the state you live in. These can pertain to height, neighbor vision impairment, and security or decorative add ons.
The first thing you may have to get permission for is if you want to build a fence higher than the regulation height. Normally, this maximum height is 6.5 feet.
If your planned fence can obstruct the view of your neighbors or the view of an intersection, you will need permission to build that fence.
You will also need to get permission to build a fence that has security or decorative add-ons on top. This can include barbed wire, spikes, post caps, privacy screens, or louvers.
How Close to the Property Line Can You Put a Fence?
Typically, you are allowed to build your fence right up to the property line but laws can vary between 2-8 inches from the property line. Check with your local bylaws to know the exact regulations to follow.
In rural areas, it’s more likely that you won’t have too strict laws on where you have to put your fence. However, in a more urban area, there will be very strict laws because those few inches of space matter.
Do I Need a Permit to Put a Fence Around My Yard?
This can depend on what kind of fence you would like to build. You will probably need a permit if you live in a highly-populated area or if you wanted to do something that doesn’t follow normal regulations.
In contrast, if you own a lot of property in farmland areas, you probably won’t need any permits to build a fence.
If you want to build a privacy fence that’s 6 feet tall, it will probably need a permit before you start building. When in doubt, always do your research to see if your idea will need a permit.
How Close to a Neighbor’s Boundary Can I Build?
Usually, you can build up to 2-8 inches from the property line but it depends on where you live. If your neighbor has a fence up already, you will need to consider the amount of space you both need to maintain the fences.
Although you are technically allowed to build fairly close to your neighbor’s fence, you have to consider the amount of space you will need to maintain your fence and the land in between the fences.
Tips on Property Lines
In the world of fencing, property lines are very important. Although, it can be hard and confusing to find out where those exactly are. Here are some answers to common questions about property lines.
How Do I Know Where My Property Lines are?
There are many different ways you can find out where your property lines are. You can check your deed, hire a surveyor, or look for your property line markers. You could also find your property line map online or look at a physical copy.
Your deed should map out your property lines and any environmental details on your property. If your property lines aren’t in the current version of your deed it will refer you to an older version that will have these recorded.
You can also get access to your property line map, also called a plat, which will nicely illustrate where your property lines are. It will show you what environmental details are on your property as well.
A property line map is normally included in the paperwork you get when you buy your property but you should also be able to find your plat online or at your local assessor’s office.
Hiring a land surveyor can be very helpful when figuring out the specifics of your property lines. A professional surveyor will be able to measure where exactly your property ends and begins.
That way you will know exactly where you can put your fence.
If you have recently acquired your property, likely, the property line markers will still be up from when the property lines were first marked.
You might also enjoy our post on How Close to the Property Line Can You Build a Garage
How Do I Get My Property Surveyed?
First, you will have to hire a professional property surveyor to come to your property. They will be able to measure all property lines on your property. They will also be able to research your land’s history and legal description.
Normally, when a property is first purchased, a new property line survey will be requested by your mortgage lender or title company. If you can access this, you won’t have to request a new one which is beneficial because they can be quite pricey.
How Do You Put a Fence in Front of Another Fence?
Before building anything, you would need to find your property’s boundary lines. Then, you will need to find out the specific fencing regulations of the region.
Additionally, communicate with your neighbors about what you would like to do with your fence to avoid any issues.
An easy way to find out the laws of your region on fencing is by calling your municipalities building department.
They will know exactly what the specific rules are and you will avoid getting into trouble because of little technicalities. And always be sure to treat your neighbor and their property with respect throughout this whole process.
Good fences make good neighbors!
What Problems will Arise with Having Two Fences Back-to-Back?
First, the gap between the two fences will be difficult to maintain. A lot of weeds can grow in this spot and they are impossible to reach. Rogue trees can sprout in this gap as well.
With no way to access these weeds with a weed wacker or even just your hands, the “no-mans-land” gap becomes an ugly sight quickly. If aesthetics are important to you, then it would probably be better if you shared a fence with your neighbor.
Involving Your Neighbor
Now that we have the legalities out of the way, let’s discuss the niceties that you should practice with your neighbor when you are building a fence.
Should I Tell My Neighbor I Am Installing a Fence Beside Theirs?
Definitely. Even if it feels unnecessary, the neighborly thing to do is to communicate with your neighbor. This will help you avoid any possible issues with them in the future. They also may want to build a shared fence with you instead.
However, if your fence is built within your property there shouldn’t be any way you could get in legal trouble with your neighbor.
Yet, you can still be nice by letting them know that some construction will ensue as it may affect their daily life.
Do I Need My Neighbor’s Permission to Install a Fence Beside Theirs?
You do not need your neighbor’s permission to install a fence beside theirs if the fence you build is within your property lines. If a fence is built on your property, your neighbor has no ownership of it.
On the other hand, if you build a fence on the property line, you will need your neighbor’s permission before you do so, since the fence is on you and your neighbor’s property.
You are not allowed to install your fence solely on your neighbor’s property unless you come to some type of agreement with your neighbor.
How Do You Deal With The Gap Between Neighbors’ Fences?
Depending on the size of the gap, you should be able to fit a weed wacker in there. You could also pave the gap in between to prevent too many weeds from popping up.
Planting various plants or bushes could be an aesthetically pleasing way to fill in the gap. Adding gravel may also help this issue.
In the end, making a shared fence with your neighbor is easier in the long run. By having a shared fence, you not only share the costs but you also don’t have to worry about the up-keep of any hard-to-reach places.
You might also enjoy our post on If Your Neighbor Can Legally Remove Your Boundary Fence
Can My Neighbor Grow Plants Up My Fence?
Usually, in most countries, your neighbor should contact you before growing plants up a shared fence. But your neighbor is free to grow plants on their side of their fence. You have the right to trim any plants that grow onto your side of the fence.
It can be frustrating to have to keep trimming your neighbor’s plants but it is within their right to grow what they want to on their property.
If the plant growth is really bothering you, talk to your neighbor to make an agreement on the plant growth.
Can My Neighbor Remove Fence Between our Properties?
Your neighbor can only remove the fence between your properties if they have your permission. A boundary fence is both your and your neighbor’s property. Any changes to this fence must be agreed on by both of you.
Consent must be provided by both parties to remove a fence. You can’t force your neighbor to agree to change the fence and vice versa.
These choices include painting, adding privacy screens, or repairing them. Make sure your neighbor is aware of any possible dangers a fence can pose.
So now you know if you can legally fulfill your fence dreams. Were your hopes crushed or were you only more inspired to finish building your barricade?
The main thing to remember from this article is either make an agreement with your neighbor or build your own fence on your own property.