Reply
Visitor
samnelson
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎05-19-2009
0

Who owns the fence?

Yesterday I approached my neighbor about replacing the fence between our yards and she said it belongs to me. I asked her how she knows and she said when you face a house from the street in front, that the fence on your left is owned by the house you are facing. Is this correct?
Regular Visitor
mikepaw
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎05-07-2009
0

Re: Who owns the fence?

I believe it is based on who's land the fence is on.
Regular Visitor
AaronStJ
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎10-10-2008
0

Re: Who owns the fence?

I've never heard anything like that, and I can't imagine why it would be true.  When you build a fence, it's considered to but the "nice" side towards your neighbor, and the side with the posts towards yourself, so that might be a good indication of who owns the fence, but certainly isn't fool proof.  I don't know any reason why the fence wouldn't just belong to whoever's land it was on.  You could probably botth build a fence an inch apart if you wanted to.
Contributor
Magnoliamom
Posts: 35
Registered: ‎02-24-2009

Re: Who owns the fence?

We have faced this issue.  The correct answer as stated already is the fence belongs to the person that owns the property it's on, regardless of who built it or which way it faces.   In some cases, it's right on the property line and so it's ambiguous.  The only way to know for sure is to look at an existing survey, which will show the fence posts and the line of the fence on it (like a birds eye view).  Surveys cost ~ $1500 so if you don't have a survey (which is very likely), then it isn't worth it to pay for a survey just to determine this.  {BTW, if you don't have a survey, maybe someone did one a long time ago.  you can look for metal survey markers or the tell-tale stake in the ground with ribbon on it.  Though you probably won't find them.}

 

Your neighbor is completely wrong, and unfortunately for you, her point of view going into this discussion would indicate to me that she ain't gonna help you with the fence.  I've never heard of her "rule of thumb" before.  I have heard that the person putting up fence puts nice side toward neighbor, but I personally think that is not a good way to determine ownership of the fence.

 

Bottom line is this:  if a fence is falling down/rotting, or clearly should be replaced, then I think that both parties should share cost. If both parties agree to tear down fence and rebuild it where it is, it doesn't matter who's property it's on, because both parties agree.  However, both parties would have to agree on style and height of fence, and budget, etc.  Do you hire someone to do it,  or do you do it as a "do it yourself" project to save money?  What if you get stuck doing all the work, will you be OK with that as long as they pay half the materials?   It is a lot of stuff to discuss and negotiate, and the other person needs to be on the same wave length as you. 

 

In our situation, we had a survey, and knew that the falling down/decaying fencce was on neighbors property.  Fence was leaning/falling into our yard.  We approached neighbor and said their fence was falling down and would they like to collaborate on it.  We provided labor and half the cost.  They provided half the cost.  Because we invested more, we put nice side toward us and it is a very attractive fence.  Fence is exactly where it was before, on very edge of their property.  We gave them an estimate of cost range up front, and they agreed.  When project was done, we gave them receipts and they paid us.  This is probably a best case/lucky scenario. 

 

Other option is to build your own fence next to the fence that is there.  May be difficult logistically to do this though.

 

Contributor
bbalkis
Posts: 48
Registered: ‎05-01-2008
0

Re: Who owns the fence?

Just check the fence gate if any.

 

If it opens towards outside from your yard, it belongs to you...

Visitor
samnelson
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎05-19-2009
0

Re: Who owns the fence?

Thank You for all your input. At this time I don't know who's lot the fence is on or if it sits right on the line. It has only one gate and that goes to the side of my house. In doing a Google search I did see some references about the left hand rule that she sighted, but some said it was the oposite so it may be just something that someone started to get out of not paying for a new fence. Anyways I'm going to check the lot line.
Super Contributor
Angry_Minnow
Posts: 349
Registered: ‎05-16-2008
0

Re: Who owns the fence?

You could ask your neighbor on the right who owns that fence...

 

 

 

Contributor
Fishlips
Posts: 30
Registered: ‎03-28-2009
0

Re: Who owns the fence?

My mom had the same issue with a neighbor.  The "nice" side faces my mom's property, and the fence encloses their yard, and another side borders another neighbor.  There is an easement between my mom's property and the neighbor's that has city power/sewer/telephone lines in it, so the fence is clearly theirs.  The relationship between my mother and the neighbor isn't what one would call friendly.  In the end my mom paid for a portion of the fence, because the fence was falling down and rotting, so it beautified her yard also.  Then the neighbor ended up putting the "ugly" side of the fence facing my mom.  That is the only side of the fence that is backwards.  They claimed it was because they didn't want to ruin the flowers planted in the easement or move our wood pile (between the two households there were 6 teenagers living there, so the wood could have moved).

 

Fast forward a few years, the neighbor is letting the fence fall into disrepair again.  Along the street side of the fence is about to fall over.  I suspect the neighbor will soon ask my mom for money to again repair/replace the fence.

 

While I don't know the laws or the rules, I would say common courtsey would say that if you plan on playing nice with the neighbors, the neighbor should pay for part of the fence...but don't make them pay for the fence if they feel strongly about not doing it, and don't hold that against them.  

Visitor
samnelson
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎05-19-2009
0

Re: Who owns the fence?

Thanks again, for the comments,    last year the neighbor on my right, and I, shared the cost of materials for a new fence, he did the labor. He even moved it into his yard about a foot to give me more room where it went past my house because the old setback was only 4'.
Regular Visitor
plunk
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎04-18-2008
0

Re: Who owns the fence?

When I was in school studying to be a land surveyor (persued another carreer since) I remember this was a thorny subject from a boundary law standpoint.

 

Generally, they are set immediately upon the boundary, generally not on one side of the other.   If it is on one side of the other, they've got some pretty clear rights about something on there property, but if an adjacent owner paid to have it constructed and the constructors accidentally put it on your land, I'm not sure you can just claim it as your and tear it down.

 

And, if it's built in an easement, it's entirely possible that someone needing access to that easement would be totally justified in tearing it down (and not putting it back up) in order to do whatever they needed to do.

 

I am pretty sure that what side is pretty and where the gate hinge swings doesn't really that much if it ends up in court.  Except that if no other evidence is presented, established boundary law generally attempts to take whatever is easilty understand by a layman as a given, so if no one had any other eveidence (i.e. reciept that they built it), that might stand.

 

When I bought my house and decided to repair / replace part of the fence I asked the neighboring houses owner. She brought up the "pretty side" facing her so it must be mine story.  I decided she said it's mine, so I'll assume it is based upon her statement.

 

I would recommend that you do some looking where you think the property corners are and try and find the marker. It would have been set upon the subdivision of the property, and depending on the neighborhood this might be many years ago. It would probably be 6-12 inch piece of rebar (steel bar with rough sides) about 1/4 inch in diameter or a 2x2 wood stake about 6-12 inches long (more likely in older neighborhoods). If it is under the surface of the ground it shouldn't be too far.  And in newer subdivisions the front corners are usually 5 or 10 feet from the street (there's normall about a 30 feet street right of way and 20 feet of pavement, or something similar, I forget the general distances, but it's very common the first 5 feet of "your yard" is legally part of the street).