What happens when one owner removes a boundary fence?

Written by leslie hall | 13/05/2017
What happens when one owner removes a boundary fence?
Federal law covers boundary fences. (grape leaves on a fence image by Tasha from Fotolia.com)

Boundary fences are regulated by federal and state law. A boundary fence divides two properties and is owned by both property owners. When a boundary fence is removed or comes into question, it is important to know the law regarding such fences.

Adverse Possession

When one property owner removes a boundary fence without the permission of the adjacent neighbour or regard for the actual boundary line, the action is considered hostile and is termed "adverse possession." Federal law mandates that a boundary fence may not be removed without the permission of the its other owner. Removing a boundary fence without agreement is cause for civil action.

Civil Action

Judgments are determined in a civil court of law when two property owners cannot agree regarding a boundary fence's removal. The determination becomes lawfully enforceable and requires immediate action.

Acquiescence

In some cases, land ownership and boundaries can change without legal action. A property owner may give or sell sole ownership of a boundary fence to the adjacent property owner, who then is responsible for the boundary's maintenance and condition and may remove the fence.

Encroachment

A boundary fence that encroaches on one owner's property is cause to remove the fence and construct another. It is wise to contact a real estate lawyer before taking action; state and local laws vary for this circumstance.

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