Fence Disputes with Neighbors


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When neighbors have disputes with each other over fences, the matter may lead to the courtroom with a dispute over the land and perimeter boundaries. It is important to resolve these matters quickly and with a calm demeanor so that costly litigation is not the end result.

Fencing disputes are often serious when the property line causes one neighbor to acquire a portion of the land that he or she did not originally purchase. This could occur over several years, and then the property is his or hers legitimately through state laws. Many issues where a fence causes a problem start decades prior to the current era. It is frequently only when the homeowner is attempting to improve the property, add on, place new structures or similar matters that the fencing dispute arises. One neighbor believes the land is his or hers while the other may have a deed or survey that shows how it is in his or her possession.

Fences are often placed on land to denote height, locations of boundaries, appearance and to keep certain issues away from the rest of the yard or land. Some homeowners are affected by a Homeowners Association that may restrict the size, length and height of fences. If this dispute arises, it usually must start with the HOA that has limited the neighbor’s fence. However, if the boundary problem is the concern, the dispute may lead to the courts. Communication and negotiations are important first steps to resolve the argument. However, if the individual is not reasonable or amenable to a peaceful resolution, it may be necessary to hire a lawyer.

The Dispute Specifics Explained

When a dispute arises about fences and boundary lines, this could include the appearance of the fence, how much land is covered, how it blocks sunlight to other plants and similar concerns. The initial dispute may not be voiced to the person with the fence but to a HOA, community board or an agent that has power within the court. If the neighbor is unwilling to speak to the person with the fence, it is more difficult to resolve the matter peacefully. The first steps usually include contact between parties. Open dialogue about the issue is important with reasonable arguments and information exchanged. Once this is accomplished, a resolution may be possible. However, some decide to jump straight to hiring a lawyer.

Some conflict about fences is for aesthetic reasons. The fence is ugly, too high, too wide covers too much of an area and similar matters. If the boundary blocks off certain landmarks, streams, patches where cattle or other animals used to hunt or gather food, the neighbor may become disagreeable. Other disputes arise when the homeowner is wanting to sell his or her land and the fence has encroached what is believed to be part of the property he or she possesses due to documentation. It may require a thorough survey along with research into older paperwork to discover the true boundary mark.

Modifications, Substitutes, and Other Issues

For a homeowner that has no fence or one that is falling apart, there are certain rules that should be followed to avoid possible conflicts with other neighbors. It is imperative that these persons are consulted with before any modifications are accomplished. They may only want to be consulted instead of picking a fight. An open conversation about the changes and repairs made could lead to a peaceful relationship. If the individual or group of neighbors agrees to these substitutions or modifications, it is important to ensure these oral agreements become written word. While he or she may act nice to the face of the homeowner, he or she may later become difficult.

Some situations call for other tactics such as intimidation or negotiation. When the fence is not the problem but where it has been placed is, there could be a solution when open communication and dialogue has been employed. Some persons are belligerent until they suffer similar behavior. However, it is important to contact a lawyer before these tactics are used.

Legal Help in Fence Disputes

For changes, new fences, moving fenced areas and similar circumstances, the homeowner should consult a lawyer. A legal representative may have certain tactics that are needed, a process that is better than what the homeowner may consider and files that should be completed and sent to the correct officials for boundary issues, acquired land through fences and other concerns. A lawyer may be the intimidating factor needed.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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