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Legal How-To: Build a Fence Around Your Property

A fence around your property can serve a range of purposes: marking your property line, keeping trespassers out, and/or providing privacy for your family.

However, a fence can also be the source of a potential dispute with your neighbors. With that in mind, making sure that your fence does not violate property laws or local restrictions can help prevent potential legal problems down the road.

How do you go about making sure your fence is in compliance with the law? Here's what you can do:

  1. Find your property lines. Although a fence does not necessarily have to mark the border of your property line, it must be entirely on your property. This means that you'll need to know where your property line ends and your neighbor's property begins. Your property lines can usually be found by visiting your local assessor's or county recorder's office. According to Demand Media, in some municipalities, property line information may also be available online. Once you know the bounds of your property, you can mark your property line as shown on the map using landmarks and a tape measure. You may also wish to hire a surveyor if you don't have a property survey.
  2. Get a copy of your deed. You should also have a copy of your deed. A property deed is the legal instrument by which ownership of property is transferred. In addition to proving your ownership of the property, the deed may also have information on property lines as well as any easements or other interests which your property may be subject to.
  3. Check local ordinances. You fence will typically be subject to local ordinances that may dictate the height limit of your fence, the types of materials which may used, and the maintenance responsibilities for boundary fences.
  4. Communicate with your neighbors. Perhaps the most straightforward way of avoiding a dispute with a neighbor over a fence between two properties is to maintain an open channel of communication about the fence construction with any neighbors that may be affected.

Need More Help?

If you have questions regarding your legal rights to build a fence, or become entangled in a dispute with a neighbor or city agency, a real estate lawyer can advise you on your legal options.

Are you facing a legal issue you'd like to handle on your own? Suggest a topic for our Legal How-To series by sending us a tweet @FindLawConsumer with the hashtag #HowTo.

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