Who is the Responsible Party for Fence Repair Between Neighbors?
There is an old saying, “Good fences make good neighbors.” It can also mean that when there are issues, things can go south quickly between you and your neighbor if you don’t understand the general rules.
Some states have very specific laws regarding fence repair between neighbors, especially if you live in a ranching or farming community, but in North Carolina, the law is not as clear-cut.
North Carolina Fence Law
What has been determined by North Carolina Fence Law is that “when a fence is built on the line between two adjoining properties, each owner is responsible for one-half (1/2) of the cost of the fence and one-half (1/2) of the cost of its maintenance and repair.
The City of Charlotte has no specific ordinances regarding fence repair responsibility, so they defer to North Carolina Fence Law. Where things get fuzzy is, in many cases, both neighbors are equally responsible regardless of where the fence is located.
General guidelines for fence repair between neighbors
Premier Fence offers these guidelines:
A Fence on property line: The fence between houses is considered shared property. Both neighbors are responsible for repairs.
If the fence is on your neighbor’s property, the neighbor who owns the property is responsible for repairs and maintenance.
Fence repair between neighbors when there is damage: If a natural disaster or trees damage the fence, both neighbors are usually responsible for repairs unless they can prove they weren’t at fault.
Fence damage from negligence: If one neighbor is considered negligent, then the neighbor who caused the damage is liable for the repair costs of the fence.
Exceptions to the law
If one neighbor built the fence without permission from the other neighbor, then the neighbor who built the fence is solely responsible for the repair and maintenance of the fence.
If the fence is located solely on your neighbor’s property, that neighbor is responsible for maintenance and repair in most cases.
What if my neighbor and I can’t agree on a solution?
When there is a property dispute, things can get heated quickly, so it’s important to be respectful. Take a moment and decompress before you continue discussions with your neighbor.
Start by calmly explaining the problem, be very clear, and state your case about why you believe as you do and who is responsible for the repairs. Enter the conversation with an estimate for the repairs.
Listen carefully to your neighbor’s evaluation of the situation and be willing to reach a compromise if everyone seems firmly entrenched in their point of view.
It would be wise to document the dispute in case you have to seek legal counsel or mediation. Be sure to include any communication with your neighbor and steps you took to try and solve the situation.
If you can’t come to an equitable agreement regarding responsibility for the situation, you may need to seek arbitration to resolve the dispute. Neighbors are important to your community, so working to resolve the issue amicably should prevail.