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Property Line Disputes Over a Fence

Fences can have many benefits to your property.  In addition to giving the property owner privacy, fencing can also act as a sound barrier, add security to a home, give protection to children and pets, as well as improve the aesthetics of your property.  However, fencing can also cause or heighten property line disputes between neighbors.  When neighbors don’t see eye to eye on property issues, it can get frustrating, heated, and sometimes downright acrimonious.  In this article, we will discuss some of the most often-asked questions about fences and boundary line divider laws in Florida.  Please also read Neighbor Property Line Dispute.

How Close to Your Property Line Can You Construct a Fence or Boundary Line?

How close you can construct your fence to your property line depends on a few things.  Your area’s jurisdiction may include specific regulations on how close a fence can be.  HOA guidelines may also dictate how close the fence is allowed.  Typically, fences are installed anywhere from 2 to 8 inches from a property line, and some areas may allow the fence to go right up to a property line, especially in urban areas where space is tight.  It is always wise to check with your local area before erecting a new fence.

If your fence is built directly on a property line, be aware that the responsibility may be shared between the two neighbors.  It’s possible that the neighbor may not be happy about the shared fence and a dispute could arise.  Always have a conversation with your neighbors before installing a fence.

Can You Force Your Neighbor to Share the Cost of the Property Divider?

Florida law states that adjoining landowners are under no obligation to erect fences dividing their land.  In other words, if one property owner decides to build a boundary fence, the adjoining property owner does not have to share in the expense unless it was agreed to in advance.

Can a Neighbor Build a Fence Against My Fence?

A neighbor can build next to your fence as long as they are inside their property line.  However, the neighbor may not attach something to your fence without your permission.

Can a Neighbor be Forced to Replace a Fence if it is an Eyesore?

Just because a fence is an eyesore or ugly, it probably isn’t violating a law unless it is endangering neighbors or those that pass by the fence.  There may be cases that local ordinances allow only certain types of new fences in order to create a uniform look.  There could be other laws, such as a blighted property ordinance, that could be used against the property owners of the fence.

What is a Spite Fence?

Florida case law does make it illegal to build a “spite fence” which is a fence built for no other purpose than to interfere with a neighbor’s property rights.  A fence can be considered a nuisance if it was motivated by malice and has no reasonable use to the owner.

Is it Illegal to Remove Survey Stakes in Florida?

Survey stakes are just there to assist the surveyor and nothing requires them to permanently remain in the ground.  However, if you remember where your property line is, you could possibly take action for any trespass that happens on your property.

That being said, it is a misdemeanor in Florida to remove or move a P.C.P. (permanent control point) or a P.R.M. (permanent reference monument) from the ground as these are permanent surveying markers.

Which Side of the Fence Are You On?

You’ve probably heard the famous proverb, “Good fences make good neighbors.”  The trouble is, not all fences are created or built equally.  Property line disputes over fences are a common occurrence.  It is often the case that property owners do not know the exact boundaries of their land.  Sometimes surveys are inaccurate, and legal descriptions of deeds are inaccurate and have been for years.  If you discover an encroachment by a neighbor putting up a fence, a simple conversation can sometimes solve the issue.  However, if you believe the property line dispute will not be solved amicably, please contact my office.

I’m Rob Robinson and in 2020 after practicing law for over 30 years in Sarasota’s oldest and most prestigious law firms, I founded my own office to provide personalized service and high-quality legal counsel for my clients.  If you have any type of property line dispute, you have my assurance that this legal matter will be handled with individualized care and attention.

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