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Spite fences are illegal in Washington

Not everyone has a good relationship with their neighbor. You may have a fairly contentious one. You don't want to move and neither do they, so the two of you are stuck with each other for the time being.

In some cases, one neighbor takes direct action to antagonize or annoy the other. One common way that this is done is by building a spite fence. This is a fence meant to irritate a neighbor and built without any other real purpose in mind. In many instances, this means an excessively tall fence meant to block their view and take away from the appeal of their own property.

Even when a fence like this is built on the right side of the property line, it may be illegal. One reason is that the city may have ordinances and regulations about the appearance or height of all fences within the city limits. If it exceeds that, the city can tell your neighbor to take it down.

But say the fence does not violate those laws. It is still illegal? It may be. When the reason for the construction was malicious, it violates state law in Washington. The law says that landowners cannot build a fence in an effort to annoy, injure or spite a neighbor. Such a fence can detract from the neighbor's quality of life and even the value of their property.

Do you think that your neighbor violated this law when erecting a new fence? While these disputes with people who live so close may not be fun, it's important to know what steps you can take.

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Riach Gese Jacobs, PLLC
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P.O. Box 1067
Lynnwood, WA 98046

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