Friendly Neighbor Fence Etiquette
We all have good manners such as saying “please” and “thank you” but when it comes to fence etiquette those same manner seem to have been forgotten at times neighbors can come to an all-out feud over a fence. Your fence may affect their yard so before you make choices have a friendly conversation, this can go a long way towards creating a dispute that nobody wants to have. This is not a requirement but keep in mind few people like surprises. Hopefully, your neighbor is also considering a fence to divide your yard and will collaborate and share in their part of the expense, but we have seen this go both ways. In Texas, your neighbor is not obligated to share in this expense, and neither are you required to fix your side. If the fence was originally installed on your neighbor’s property but fell on your property as a result of a storm, you can remove the fence from your property just in the same way you can remove trees and limbs.
Should the chat not go as good as you had hoped then when it comes times to build you want to observe your boundary lines, do not build over your property lines not even an inch or you unfriendly neighbor may have the fence torn down. If you are unclear where your property lines are then you may contact Harris County record office to obtain a blueprint or you may choose to have your land surveyed.
Texas State Law
Texas does not have a specific state law that addresses boundary line fences. Cities or property owner associations will often try to regulate things such as fence height but for disputes involving ownership or maintenance, those will often need to be settled in court if the neighbors cannot come to an agreement on their own.
When it comes to your Homeowners Association it is up to you to know their policies and respect them, these rules can include height limits, setbacks, materials, and maintenance. If your home is on a corner lot, there might be more restrictions. You can challenge these rules, but chances are you will not win.
Another common courteous is to put the more finished side of your fence facing the street or your neighbor’s yard, Not only will your neighbor most likely be happier but your property will look better, should you not like the inside of your fence facing your yard, then consider a double sided fence where both sides appear new. When choosing a fence contractor make sure you have a reliable crew who will build your fence in a timely and professional manner. Try to make your fence project enjoyable for your neighbors as much as for yourself.
Think of the golden rule, do unto others as you wish they would do unto you. Sadly your neighbor may have been raised differently than to know manners or how to treat a fence properly so what do you do should your neighbors damage the fence? First take photos and try to resolve the dispute but if they do not agree to repair it, if its serious take your dispute to small claims court. In Texas, the award limits are $10,000.