What do you do if your fence is in a bad state and you need it replaced or you are doing some renovations on your place and you just want a fresh look.

It’s always good etiquette to talk to your neighbor before replacing the fence separating your properties. However if the fence is on your property then technically you won need to. Every state is different and you are best following local state laws for fencing before you get to work.

Below is a guide that discusses when you need and when you do not need to discuss fence replacement with your neighbor.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Replacing Your Fence

Before you replace a fence, you need to do your due diligence as a homeowner because this is an investment you are making in your home.

To do this, you should start by asking yourself these three vital questions:

Who Owns the Fence?

The primary determinant of whether you need your neighbor’s permission before replacing your fence is who wons the fence?

There’s a common misconception that says every homeowner is responsible for the fence on the left. In reality, there’s a whole process that involves checking property deeds to determine who really owns a fence that separates two properties.

If the fence is sitting on your side of the property, it’s not necessary to seek permission from your neighbor. However, it’s courteous to inform them of your intentions to replace the fence. Just letting them know, despite who owns the fence, could be your ticket to avoiding conflict and potential lawsuits.

If your neighbor owns the fence, you have no right to alter the fence, let alone replace or remove it. Hence, before you can actualize your plan, you must have your neighbor’s consent.

Who Is Responsible for the Fence?

Fence responsibility is another area of contention between neighbors.

The property deed mentioned above does more than just help you determine fence ownership. It’s also key in helping to establish fence responsibility.

As such, if a fence is located on your property, you are responsible for maintaining, fixing, and replacing the fence. However, if the fence is not on either side of the property line, then you and your neighbor share the cost of maintaining, fixing, and replacing the boundary.

In the second scenario, you must notify your neighbor and come up with a convenient plan for both of you since you both benefit from the fence.

To be on the safest side of the potential row, it’s always best if you notify your neighbor of your intentions to replace the fence, regardless of who is responsible.

Who Is Responsible for the Fence

Should I Consider Replacing a Fence Without My Neighbor's Permission?

In some instances, you must ask for permission from your neighbor, while in others, you do not need to involve your neighbor.

When to Replace a Fence Without Permission From My Neighbor

If you own the fence, you have the automatic go-ahead to continue with the replacement plans.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can make absurd adjustments or repairs. There are spite fence laws which include height limits that might block a neighbors view. You still need to ensure that the fence is safe enough for you and your neighbor. If your neighbor feels like the fence poses a safety concern, they have legal grounds to take action against you.

Even if you legally own the fence, it is only right to include your neighbor’s input before replacing the fence since it serves you both.

Chances are, you will come to a consensus and decide to work on this project together, and you will end up saving a few coins. Depending on the type of material that you use, bear in mind that replacing a fence is not a cheap affair.

When to Ask Your Neighbor For Permission Before Replacing Your Fence

Unlike when you own the fence, if you do not have ownership of the fence, then your hands remain tied until your neighbor gives you approval.

Remember, your neighbor is only obliged to replace the fence if it is unsafe. Otherwise, do not expect them to give in to your request just because you want them to.

Additionally, do not make any replacements if your neighbor has categorically mentioned that they do not permit you to.

For example, if you feel like the fence is too short for your liking, do not extend the fence unless you have permission from the next-door resident because this is against the law.

Alternatives If Your Neighbor Won't Replace The Fence

Having a stubborn neighbor that never wants to agree on anything and is hell-bent on not replacing the fence is a nightmare.

The situation worsens if the fence is unsightly and spoils your enjoyment of your home.

Picture this: a warm Sunday afternoon with clear skies watching your children swim or play in the backyard, but this is rudely interrupted by a hideous, worn-out fence. Such a scenario will make you itch so badly to replace the fence.

Your options include:

  • Negotiate with your neighbor. This can be done through face-to-face communication, or if you cannot see eye to eye, a letter will be convenient. Face-to-face conversations are the best as they are efficient and have a reduced chance of being miscommunicated or misinterpreted. Nonetheless, if you decide to write to them, make sure you keep copies of the letters that you send and receive.
  • Engage a mediator. A mediator is someone who does not know any of you and is trained to listen to both sides and help come to an agreement. The best place to get a mediator to help resolve boundary disputes would be the city council. Please note: mediation services often come at a fee.
  • Get a solicitor. A solicitor is a person who has specialized in resolving neighbor disputes but keep in mind that this option is more expensive.

Some neighbors can be difficult, and all these options can fail to work. In this case, your last option would be to get a permit before you put up your fence. This will help you avoid disputes and potential lawsuits launched against you by your neighbor.

Can I Put Up a Fence If My Neighbor Refuses to Replace the Current One?

A simple answer to this question is “yes.”

You have all the legal rights to erect a new fence right next to the existing one as long as the fence you erect ticks the following considerations:

  • It is on your private property or inside your boundary.
  • It does not destroy or damage your neighbor’s existing fence.
  • It is the same height as the existing fence.

You also need to check with your city council for other legal restrictions to be on the safe side.

The perks of erecting a new fence are also quite a handful.

  • It breathes new life into the look of your home.
  • It transforms your backyard and gives it an elegant curb appeal.
  • It makes your backyard look new and well maintained.

On the flip side, this is a rather pricey alternative, but you make up for it because the fence becomes private property, and you can do whatever you want with it. This means you are free to use the material of your choice as well as the color that is most pleasing to you.

Should I Replace a Fence Myself or Entrust Fence Installers?

When replacing a fence, it’s essential that you understand the requirements and legislation to avoid costly suits. Such legislations include whether you need a permit before replacing your fence.

You will save yourself a lot of time and money when you entrust your fence replacement job to a professional who understands the most essential details of the process. We can connect you to the most professional fence installer who will deliver beyond your expectations. How?

  1. Scroll to the top of the page.
  2. Answer a few questions about your fencing job.
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Important: This is a free service and you are not obliged to use any of the recommended installers, unless you’re willing.

Benjamin McInerny
Author: Benjamin McInerny - is a qualified arborist and a DIY Home Improvement enthusiast. Ben has a extensive experience on renovation projects including, mold removal, painting, fence installation and more. Ben shares his skills with DIY and gardening enthusiasts.