Should your Vinyl Fence be on your Property Line?

What is the minimum distance allowed between my fence and the property line?

If you desire to maximize the usable space in your yard for recreational activities, gardening, and relaxation, you might consider installing a fence directly on your property line. However, determining the feasibility of this idea depends on various factors, such as your location and your neighbor’s opinion about the fence. In this post, we will assist you in understanding the allowable distance between your fence and the property line, while addressing common concerns associated with fence placement and property usage.

The first thing to do if you’re going to build a vinyl fence on your property line.

Get a Survey

To determine the precise location of your fence—whether it falls on your property line, within your property boundaries, or even on your neighbor’s property (which can be quite problematic), obtaining a survey is essential. Your county’s deed and assessor’s office may already possess a copy of the survey, or you may have obtained one during the home purchase process. If not, hiring a qualified surveyor typically costs between $500 and $1000. While this may seem like a significant expense, it will save you from numerous headaches in the long run by preventing the inadvertent placement of your fence in the wrong location. Nobody wants to deal with the hassle of reconstructing their fence or facing legal disputes with their neighbors over property boundaries!

Check local laws and restrictions.

Fence setback regulations can vary based on your jurisdiction, often requiring a distance of 2, 4, 6, or 8 inches from the property line. However, certain areas may permit you to build your vinyl fence on your property line. The specific laws in your location may depend on factors such as the type of neighborhood, such as suburban areas with spacious yards versus urban row homes where even a few inches can make a significant impact. In densely populated regions, it’s more likely to have permission to construct a fence directly on the property line, although this can vary.

If you reside in an area governed by a homeowner’s association (HOA), it’s important to be aware that they may have their own rules regarding fence placement, as well as guidelines concerning the type of fences allowed in front and back yards. To ensure compliance, it’s advisable to review your HOA covenants and regulations.

Constructing a fence right on the property line might entail shared responsibility between you and your neighbor, as dictated by the law. This arrangement can be favorable if your neighbor desires the fence too and is willing to share the costs. However, if your neighbor isn’t enthusiastic about the fence, it could potentially lead to a contentious legal dispute.

Key Factors to Consider If Building a Vinyl Fence on Your Property Line

When you choose to build a vinyl fence on your property line or within your property boundaries, it’s important to be mindful of certain aspects related to property maintenance, ownership, and neighborly considerations.

Fence Maintenance

When you position your fence a few inches within your property line, it’s crucial to remember the maintenance of the portion of your property that lies outside the fence. While your neighbors might voluntarily mow the additional strip of yard on their side as a kind gesture, it remains your responsibility to ensure the grass is cut and the weeds are kept in check.

In situations where your neighbors also choose to install a fence within their property line, leaving a narrow strip of grass between the two fences, you will need to establish an agreement regarding the maintenance of this area and ensure there is a feasible means of access. Conversely, if your fence is precisely on the property line, you will need to discuss with your neighbors whether they will undertake the maintenance of the fence on their side or if you will have access to their yard when necessary for tasks such as staining or repairs.

Prescriptive Easement

If you position a fence inside your property line, allowing your neighbor to utilize the area beyond that line, there is a possibility that a prescriptive easement could be established. Prescriptive easement is a legal concept wherein a property easement is acquired through the consistent use of the property. While this does not grant your neighbor a legal title to the land or the ability to sell it, they may be able to assert a legal right to utilize the property. It’s important to note that if the property lies outside your fenced yard and you are not regularly utilizing it, it may provide grounds for a claim of prescriptive easement. This can present challenges if you ever intend to expand the fence outward. Additionally, it may become an issue if you decide to sell the house, as potential buyers may view the unused land outside the fence as a concern, potentially impacting the property’s value.

Adverse Possession

Adverse possession holds even greater legal implications than a prescriptive easement. If an individual, such as your neighbor utilizing the small strip of land outside the fence, exercises exclusive and uninterrupted use of the property for a specific number of years, they may claim adverse possession, thereby acquiring legal ownership rights to the property. In cases where the neighbor pays property taxes on that land, adverse possession can be claimed in as little as five years, although this is highly unusual within a fence scenario. Nevertheless, it is important to be aware that if you install a fence within your property line, there is a possibility that, in 10, 20, or 30 years when your home is sold or transferred, you or the new owners may be taken aback to discover that the property is no longer as expansive as it once was.

In addition to practical considerations such as maximizing the usability of your yard and complying with local regulations, the decisions you make regarding the building of a vinyl fence on your property line can also have implications for selling your home.