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When you need to take legal action about your neighbor's fence

A fence can be a very important investment for homeowners. In some cases, such as for those who own livestock or large breeds of dogs, constructing a fence may be a legal obligation.

Other times, such as in the case of a house with a pool in the yard, a fence can be an important way to mitigate liability and protect the public. Finally, fences can add a quaint cosmetic touch and provide your family with privacy in the outside spaces you enjoy.

Unfortunately, a fence can also impede your enjoyment of outside spaces or even infringe on your property rights. Understanding your rights when a neighbor puts up a fence is important, as the construction of a fence can often lead to conflict between those whose properties are adjacent to one another.

You have zero obligation to contribute to the fencing cost

Unless you and your neighbor have an agreement to split the expenses associated with the fencing on the shared boundaries of your properties, your neighbor cannot require you to contribute to the cost of building the fence, regardless of how much of the fence is on the boundary line between your properties.

You also do not have an obligation to maintain your side of the fence, though you may want to for aesthetic reasons.

The fence should be on the boundary line or your neighbor's property

Having an exact idea of where the boundary line for your property sits is critically important. Without that information, you could make the mistake that will allow your neighbor to claim adverse possession of your property in the future.

If the fence encroaches on your land and you do not notify your neighbor in writing of the issue, they could claim that your lack of action indicates an abandonment of that section of your property. After a few years, they could ask the courts to allocate that land to them without financial compensation for you, the actual owner.

They could add a few inches or a few feet of space to their side of the property line through the construction of a fence that you don't oppose. It is important to know where the boundary should be and whether the fence falls on your side of the line.

Simply producing shade is not grounds for legal action

You may have invested substantially in landscaping and plants on your property only to have your neighbor put up a fence that blocks out the sun, potentially endangering your garden. Unfortunately, the mere creation of shade is not a violation of your property rights. You cannot demand that a neighbor move the fence simply because it will impede your ability to garden on the border of your property.

However, if the fence is weak or causes damage to your property, such as by falling over and scratching your vehicle or denting the siding on your home, that could be cause for a claim against your neighbor's homeowner's insurance.

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