Boundary Fence Responsibilities

Written by sharyl stockstill
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Boundary Fence Responsibilities
Morally, boundary fences should be erected and maintained by both owners. (Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

"Good fences make good neighbours" is a saying as old as fences in the West. While both parties may have reasons for keeping the fence in good repair, it often falls to one owner handling the responsibility more than the other. Whenever possible, strive to work with your neighbour to build good fences between you.

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History

Fences have been erected throughout history for two reasons. The first reason is to keep things, such as livestock, from wandering onto neighbour's fields. The second reason is to keep things out. Fences may be erected to keep invaders out of a city or to keep wildlife from destroying valuable crops. The responsibility for keeping the boundary fence in good repair fell to whomever was keeping things in or out.

Function

Today, fences define boundaries, such as property lines, and to control movement of traffic. The basic function of a fence has changed little since the first ones were erected. Maintenance of boundary fences falls upon the property owners of both sides of the fence. If one neighbour wants to upgrade a boundary fence, they should contact the person they share the boundary fence with. The second owner may, or may not, want to incur the cost but should be offered the opportunity to vocalise their desires. The owner who is paying for the upgrade has the final responsibility for the overall decision.

Identification

Boundary fences should be surveyed and marked by a qualifying surveying company. This will provide the property owner with protection when building boundary fences. Little is worse than completing a fence just to realise you built it 2 feet over onto the neighbour's property and will have to pay to tear it down and move it.

Mending Fences With Neighbors

When a boundary fence is damaged by your animal, be responsible and fix the fence. If your neighbour's bull was fighting with yours, get together with your neighbour to fix the fence. In some cases, you may pay for the materials while your neighbour provides the labour, or vice versa. Open communication with your neighbour is key to keeping the boundary fences in a good state of repair.

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