Staying on the Right Side of (Property) Law

Law and Justice

Staying on the Right Side of (Property) Law

Picture this: You’re a new homeowner in Anchorage or Tampa and your property’s up for fence installation. Suddenly, your neighbor rolls up and kindly tells you that you may be violating a local fencing ordinance. What can you do next?

Property lines and fence laws vary per state. Here are some of the most common state property laws:

Florida

The Sunshine State does not require adjoining landowners to demarcate their land with fences. A landowner who decides to hedge out their land has the sole obligation to finance the fence installation. They can have the owner of the land adjacent to them to pay for half the hedge or fence, but they must agree on the terms before the installation.

Tampa, Florida requires permits for fences that are made of masonry and brick with metal balustrades. Fences that have posts connected by intermediate materials such as wood or similar materials do not require permits. The permit is required to review the structural integrity of the masonry and/or brick structure.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma State Statutes—particularly, Title 60—has a lot to say about property and fence lines. Owners are required to file legal descriptions of their property to their county clerk. Surveyors will use this legal description to determine property lines. Laws governing adverse property and boundary by acquiescence also apply.

Residential fencing codes in Tulsa, Oklahoma mandate that front fences may only reach four feet in height. Side and back fences are limited to eight feet in height. Multifamily developments and townhouses may have modified fence limits.

Texas

Houston Texas buildings

Boundary fence laws are determined by city and county. What Texas has as a whole are tree damage laws and right to farm laws. Farmers and agricultural operators are exempted from nuisance laws regarding the operation of heavy machinery and pesticides.

Fences below eight feet tall are allowed in Austin, Texas as long as they do not intersect floodplain hazard areas. Solid fences between 6 to 8 feet need a written authorization from the city board and adjacent property owners. Only ornamental fences may reach more than eight feet.

Alaska

No regulations govern fences that run along property lines in Alaska. Barbed wire fences are the only type that is regulated as homeowners are obligated to keep these fences in shape. This seeming lack of regulation is chalked up to Alaska’s less populated metropolitan areas. However, municipal and city codes may have something to say about fence heights and types. Palmer, in particular, requires applications for fence construction.

Anchorage, AK also has rules regarding fences. Fences can be built at property lines, which must be professionally determined. They may only reach heights up to 8 feet; any structure higher than that is considered a wall. Fences at clear vision area of corner lots may not go up to 2 and a half feet above street centerline elevation.

If you find yourself in dispute with your neighbors over property lines or anything else, try to settle your arguments diplomatically. Eliminate tensions by having a civil conversation over your problems. Come up with a solution that will benefit you both. If a lying tree branch is the culprit, negotiate with your neighbor to take it down. Feral animals can be a danger to yourself and pets. Always strive to find a peaceful solution to your problems to avoid major conflicts.

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