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Good neighbors should agree to split the cost of the repair of fences or common boundary walls. Local fence ordinances usually regulate height and location and sometimes the material used and appearance. Residents of subdivisions are often subject to even stricter Homeowners’ Association restrictions. In residential areas, local rules typically restrict backyard fences to a height of six feet and front yards to a height of four feet. Exceptions exist and a landowner can seek a variance if there is a need for a higher fence. While some jurisdictions have specific aesthetic zoning rules with respect to fences, as long as a fence complies with local laws it cannot be taken down simply because it is ugly. In fact, unless the property owners agree otherwise, fences on a boundary line belong to both owners when both are using the fence. Both owners are responsible for keeping the fence in good repair, and neither may remove it without the other’s permission. In the event that trees hang over the fence, most states agree that the property owner may cut tree limbs and remove roots where they cross over the property line, provided that such pruning will not damage the basic health and welfare of the tree.

Inside Fences