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When good fences do not make good neighbors

While a famous poet once wrote that "good fences make good neighbors," we at Riach Gese Jacobs believe that this is not necessarily true. Sometimes a fence may lead to a dispute between neighbors.

Learning how the law applies to fences between adjoining properties may help you to avoid disputes between you and your neighbors.

Sharing the fence

According to FindLaw, a fence on a boundary line between your property and another belongs to both of you equally. The only exception is if you and the other property owner both agree to an alternate arrangement. Owning the fence equally means that neither you nor your neighbor may remove the fence without the other's permission, and both are responsible for keeping the fence in good condition, which includes sharing the cost of repairs.

Making a change

If you want to make a change or alteration to a fence that you share in common, you need to ask your neighbor's permission before proceeding. Alterations may include repair, replacement or making an addition to a current fence, such as latticework. 

Understanding local ordinances

You cannot demand that your neighbor take down a fence simply because you find it visually unappealing. It must be in violation of local fence ordinances, which usually regulate the material used to build a fence, its height and its location. Height regulations on fences usually vary between the front yard and the backyard. For example, fences in the front yard are often restricted to no more than four feet high, while backyard fences may typically be as tall as six feet. 

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a dispute over a fence may arise between you and your neighbor that is only resolvable in court. More information about neighbor and property disputes is available on our website.

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Riach Gese Jacobs, PLLC
7331 196th Street, SW
P.O. Box 1067
Lynnwood, WA 98046

Phone: 425-329-7857
Phone: 425-776-3191
Fax: 425-775-0406
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