Home & Garden

Ask Angie: Who owns a shared fence?

Q: The fence that encloses my back yard is shared with three other neighbors and is in bad shape. With a shared fence, are maintenance or replacement costs typically also shared?

A: Fences are one of those issues that can come between neighbors. Ownership almost always depends on the property line and on which side of that line the fence stands.

You may be surprised to learn that a fence you consider as partly yours, is, in fact, not owned by you at all.

This is yet another reason why having your land surveyed is so important. Definitive ownership of trees and fences depends on accurate surveys.

Even so, it’s common for homeowners to share a fence because many times the structure is built directly on the property line and more than one owner shares use. Homebuilders often place a fence on a property line when putting houses beside each other.

If ownership of a shared fence is established, maintenance and repair expenses should be split equally among the owners. In case of storm damage, insurance companies are accustomed to dividing repair costs among multiple owners.

Angie Hicks is founder of www.AngiesList.com, provider of consumer reviews and services. Send questions to askangie@angieslist.com or tweet with #AskAngie. Follow her @Angie – Hicks.