Which Side of the Fence am I Responsible For?

A fence is probably something you don’t think much about until it is time to replace it or make repairs. At that time, you may start wondering exactly what you are responsible for. The information below will help you determine which side of the fence is yours.

Determining Property Markers

Residential fences that fall on one side of a boundary line are the responsibility of the property owner whose land it sits on. As such, you will need to determine where your property markers are in relation to your fence.

When your original property lines were drawn, a surveyor may have placed ground pins along the outer corners. Ground pins are actually iron rods that are buried ten inches or so under the ground.

A metal detector can be useful in helping you locate ground pins. You could also do some digging to find them, but if you do then be mindful of any underground utility lines. To be safe, call Gopher State One a few days before you dig.

Ground pins will tell only part of the story. If your property line is jagged or runs at an angle, there could still be some confusion as to whose side the fence lies on.

Having a Survey Performed

If you are unable to locate property markers, you may wish to have a formal survey. Before hiring a surveyor, check to see if there is a previous survey on file in your county clerk’s office. This can sometimes help you avoid the expense of hiring a surveyor yourself.

Previous surveys may also provide information about who owns which side of a fence. A map with a “t” on the inside of a boundary line indicates that property owner is responsible. An “H” symbol overlapping two property lines means that both land owners share equal responsibility for the fence.

Consulting your Deed

When fences sit directly on a property line, determining who “owns” it can be a little more difficult. In that case, the first step should be to consult your deed. If boundary agreements were made in the past, chances are they will be listed on that document.

Certain locations are required to be fenced for public safety reasons. In instances where fences are mandatory, a conveyance or transfer deed often specifies that subsequent landowners will continue maintaining that fence indefinitely.

Common Law Mandates

If your deed does not specify an owner, common law dictates that you and your neighbor are equally responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of any fence directly on your boundary lines.

This law applies so long as both of you are using the fence. What exactly constitutes the use of a fence is hard to define, particularly if it is one that is used solely to divide one yard from another.

Settling Unresolved Fence Issues

Sometimes it isn’t possible to determine who owns a fence with any degree of certainty. In that case, you may need to personally settle the matter.

By talking with your neighbors, you can likely come up with an agreement that is satisfactory to all. Create a new boundary agreement and have everyone sign the document so you have something official in writing.

If you are unable to resolve the problem this way, your only other option will be to take the matter to court. This should only be done as a last resort whenever you are unable to determine fence ownership or work out a satisfactory agreement on your own.

Good Fences make Good Neighbors – Contact Us Today

At Security Fence & Construction, we are firm believers that good fences make good neighbors. We want you to maintain good relationships with your neighbors, which is why we will double check fence ownership before doing any work. For high quality fencing in Minneapolis, please contact us.