There are a few key laws that need to be followed in Alaska before erecting a fence. Below we cover permits, yard setbacks, spite fences, and everything else you need to know before building your fence.

Can I replace an existing fence without a permit?

It depends on the regulations in your location. Most municipal counties will demand a permit to replace your existing fence, while some may not. You should, therefore, consult with the authorities in your area to find out the rules.

You can also talk to a local contractor who’ll guide you through the regulations in your area.

Over which height fence is considered as a wall in Alaska?

The Alaska municipal code restricts all fences to a maximum height of 8 feet. It also states that fences can be made from wood, fiberglass, masonry materials, and metal.

Any other structure that’s taller than 8 feet is regarded as a wall and as such, it must meet all the yard setback requirements.

Yard setbacks

The setbacks regulations will vary depending on your zoning district. It’s measured from the property line to the front, rear, or side of the fence.

If you don’t know which setback regulations are implemented in your neighborhood, call Land Use Enforcement, and an officer will help you with the requirements.

Who owns the fence on property lines in AK?

Alaska is one of the few states in the country that haven’t passed a law regarding boundary fences. The only fence laws in the state, according to AS 03.30.030, all apply to persons with barbed wire fences.

This is because Alaska has more low-population metropolitans than other states in the US.

Therefore, unless you have an agreement with the neighbor to share the costs for it, the fence belongs to the neighbor who built it. You’ll have no obligations to contribute to the fence’s repairs or maintenance.

How do you know where the property boundary is?

Get a land surveyor to help you mark the property lines. The surveyor will set markers on the boundaries showing you the exact position of your property lines from your neighbor.

Another way to determine the property boundary is by visiting the local county recorder’s office. There, you can access the public maps of your neighborhood to locate the boundaries.

You can also check with your local county office to confirm if they uploaded that public map online. If they did, you can easily access the maps online and be able to determine your boundaries.

Note: If you have your title deed, it might contain the data regarding the boundary. Nonetheless, it could also have been altered by previous owners, so you can’t completely trust the information.

Can my neighbor build a fence on the property line?

Yes! Since Alaska doesn’t have a strict policy on property line fences, your neighbor can build the fence on the line. Most local HOAs, however, force the neighbor to ask for your permission before proceeding with construction.

If, later on, you want to use the fence, you might need to negotiate a contract with the neighbor to determine how much you’ll contribute.

You can also contest the construction of this fence in court to have the neighbor’s construction delayed or canceled.

Can I put up a fence on my side of the property line?

Yes! Property owners in Alaska have the right to do whatever they want within the boundaries of their property. If you want to put up a fence on your side of the property, you can do it.

However, you’ll still have to conform to the set regulations by your neighborhood’s local council.

And even though you legally don’t have to inform your neighbor about your intentions, telling them anyway is always good neighborly etiquette.

What is a spite fence?

A spite fence is any overly tall fence or structure that is built to annoy the other neighbor and serves no usefulness for the owner. In most states in the US, there are rules prohibiting the construction of such fences.

However, in Alaska, there’s no fence law against spite fences. Instead, the state uses the district local ordinances to prevent such constructions. So, even if your neighbor builds a fence out of spite or anger, it will still have to follow the city guidelines.

What is a barbed wire fence?

A barbed-wire fence refers to long strands of steel fencing wires coupled with several sharp joints and edges at equal intervals. It’s quite common in many rural areas in the country because it’s cheaper and easy to install.

Nonetheless, it’s banned for use in most residential districts as it poses a danger to pets and children.

In Alaska, barbed fences are legal according to Alaska Statutes 03.30.020. It states that any person with a barbed wire should maintain it in proper repair.

This statute goes on to say that if a neighbor’s animal get’s injured or dies from coming in contact with the fence while it’s still unrepaired, you might be liable to compensate them for the damages caused.

Alaska boundary fence laws at a glance

This table provides an overview of some of the state laws governing Alaska’s fence laws and links to their original documents.

StatuesBoundary fencesSpite fences
Boundary fences: Alaska statutes sections 03.30.020 and 03.30.030

Spite fences: Alaska local fence ordinances
Alaska state doesn’t have specific laws about boundary fences.

The duty of keeping a barbed wire fence in a good condition is of the owners, also, a wire fence "so dilapidated as to be of no practical use" may be considered a nuisance and ordered removed by a court.
There aren’t laws in Alaska that outlaw spite fences that are built out of malice.

Many Alaska towns and cities do have building and permitting ordinances that control how tall fences can be and under what circumstances they can be erected.

Keep in mind; These laws are bound to change with time depending on the new legislation, federal court decisions, and other initiatives. Use the information provided above as a guide and research the latest regulations in your municipality.

FAQ's

The neighbor that constructed the fence is the owner in most cases since Alaska doesn’t have a clear property line fence law.

Where local county ordinances and HOAs are more effective, both homeowners may be required to take up that responsibility. If, however, the fence lies 100% on the property of one neighbor, it becomes their full responsibility.

Blocking your views is one objective of a neighbor building a spite fence. The law on such a fence is quite vague in Alaska and this greatly limits you on what action you can take.

Check if the fence violates any of the local zoning restrictions regarding height, appearance, and fence design. If it does, you can sue them to obtain a court order for the removal of the fence

It depends. If you have complete ownership of the fence, your neighbor won’t have any right to hang things. However, if you are joint owners of the fence, the neighbor can hang things on their side of the fence.

Yes! As long as you don’t violate your local town and HOA zoning rules, you’re free to paint your side of the fence. For shared boundary fences, you may also have to talk with your neighbor to ensure they’re okay with that decision.

If it’s a fence on your property, you must also consider that some local councils demand that the good side of the fence faces your neighbor.

So, before painting ensure that the neighbor’s side of the fence looks great.

Yes! Building a fence next to your neighbor’s fence is allowed in Alaska. You just have to ensure that you involve a land surveyor to map out your property lines and ensure that you don’t encroach on the neighbor’s property.

Yes! If he/she was the sole owner of the fence, then, by your agreement, you’ll have no say in the fence removal. But for a jointly shared fence on the property line, the neighbor must consult and ask for your permission before removing the fence.

Timothy Munene
Author: Timothy Munene - Timothy is a freelance writer and an online entrepreneur.