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The fence between my property and my neighbor’s property is down. Who has to pay to replace it?

The fence between two properties is on either your property or your neighbor’s property; it cannot be on both properties. Consequently, unless there are certain deed restrictions mandating fences to be erected and which spell out responsibilities among neighbors, you are not obligated to fix the fence between your and your neighbor’s property. Nor can you compel your neighbor to fix the fence. If the fence was originally installed on your neighbor’s property but fell on to your property as a result of the storm, you can remove the fence from your property just in the same way you can move trees and limbs.

If the fence is on the boundary line between both properties, both property owners own the fence if they both use it, and thus would share the cost of repairing/replacing the fence.  Every state interprets “use” differently, but there are three main definitions:

  • Occupancy – use of the land up to the fence.
  • “Join” for use – the attachment of another fence to the boundary fence.
  • Entire enclosure – the property owner’s entire property is enclosed by the attachment of other fencing to the boundary fence.

Most state laws or local ordinances place responsibility for the maintenance of the boundary fences on the owners that use the fence unless an agreement indicates otherwise. 

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