Having a fence between neighbors is always a good thing. It not only provides privacy but also helps ensure a safe environment for your pets and children to play in. However, even for neighbors with the best relationship, fence and property line disputes may always arise.

This is why understanding the fence and property line laws is important for every homeowner in Arkansas.

Can I replace an existing fence without a permit?

No! Under most local ordinances, failure to obtain a permit for your fence replacement job may attract heavy penalties. Each local authority and some homeowner association has its own policies, which usually involve cash fines.

Most laws will only allow you to work without a permit if you’re conducting repairs (Or replacing less than 50% of the fence).

How tall can a privacy fence be in Arkansas?

A fence put up in the residential districts is restricted to a maximum height of 8 feet. The front yard restrictions are set at 4 feet and between 6 – 8 feet for the back and side fence depending on the local ordinances.

In commercial districts, the fences are limited to a height, not more than 8 feet. Front yard fences are capped at around 6 feet in height, while the rear, side, and corner lots are limited to 8 feet.

However, property owners seeking taller fences can get approval from the planning board in your district.

Who owns the fence on property lines in AR?

The Arkansas fence and property line laws recognize adjoining landowners as the joint owners of the boundary fence.

According to the Ark. Code § 2-39-105, any neighbor who encloses another adjoining neighbor’s land, which is already enclosed with a fence such that a part of the fence becomes the partition fence, become liable to share the costs for the fence.

This means that both neighbors are responsible for any of the maintenance, repairs, or replacements for the fence. Similarly, neither of the neighbors can remove the fence without the permission of the other.

If one neighbor raises a dispute regarding the fence, they can complain to the local town justice. The justice can then order three neutral householders in your area to assess the fence and create a memorandum which they can use to testify in court.

What exactly is a boundary or property line?

Property or boundary lines refers to the exact legal extent of where your property starts and ends. It’s these boundary lines that define where a fence or shed can be placed on your property.

Among adjoining properties, the position of your property line is usually indicated on your title deeds. But if you don’t have your deed for whatever reason, you can hire a land surveyor to mark out the exact boundary marks.

Another effective way to get the right details about your property line location is by visiting your local Assessor’s office.

Can my neighbor build a fence on the property line?

Yes! The Arkansas law allows the neighbor to put up the fence on the property line as long as it doesn’t encroach into your property. Some local HOA regulations may, however, demand that they first obtain your permission.

Since a fence on the property line might be considered a responsibility for both neighbors, you’ll have to draw a contract with your neighbor if you think you won’t use the fence.

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

Yes! Arkansas fence and property line laws give you the freedom to use your property as you please, including building the fence. Depending on the regulations of your HOA, you might not have to inform your neighbor!

Nonetheless, you’ll still have to follow the local zoning restrictions regarding height, fence material, color, and design styles. Keep in mind, use of barbed wires is restricted in most residential districts in Arkansas.

The typically allowed setback distance is usually around 2 – 8 inches away from the property line in most residential districts.

Adverse Possession

The principle of adverse possession refers to a concept where your neighbor or stranger can gain legal ownership of part(s) of your land.

It’s acceptable in multiple states in the US, including Arkansas, and applies to landowners who appear to have neglected or ignored their land for an extended period of time.

In Arkansas, the law allows your neighbor to possess land through adverse possession if they meet these conditions:

  • Must be hostile (use land without owner’s consent)
  • Show actual control over the property
  • Prove exclusive possession of the land
  • Openly prove that they used the land without hiding their occupancy
  • Meet the statutory required period of seven years
  • Show proof of tax payment for the seven years

You should, however, differentiate adverse possession from easement rights.

Your neighbor may also steal your land through acquiescence. Under this principle, the neighbor takes advantage of the unspoken agreements between the two of you regarding the boundary.

For instance, the neighbor’s fence may have been on your side of the property line for several years, and you both recognize and agree with this as your new boundary line.

What is a spite fence?

A spite fence refers to a fence structure built for no useful purpose to the owner other than annoying the neighbor. These are usually tall and ugly fences that might block the neighbor’s views or harass the neighbor.

Such structures are illegal under the new Arkansas fence laws, and your neighbor can obtain a court order prohibiting you from the construction of such a structure.

Arkansas boundary fence laws at a glance

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

Statues and case lawBoundary fencesSpite fences
Boundary fences: Arkansas Code Sections 2-39-105 and 2-39-107

Spite fences: Jenkins v. Dale Betty Fogerty Joint Revocable Trust, No. CA 11-276, decided November 30, 2011
A “division fence” must be equally borne and maintained by both landowners.

If a person complains to a justice of the peace regarding a fence, the justice must order three "disinterested householders" in the neighborhood to view the fence, prepare a memorandum, and testify to the court on the issue.
An adjoining landowner can adjoin the erection of a structure built for the purpose of annoying him/her and making the use of his/her property less enjoyable.

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

Unless they’ve both agreed otherwise, the law recognizes each adjoining neighbor as a joint owner of the fence. You are both liable for the cost of maintenance, replacement, and repairs of the fence.

Based on the modern Arkansas fence laws, you can sue the neighbor on grounds of a spite fence. The court will allow you to remove the fence, ensuring that you can maintain your perfect views.

Not without your permission. If the fence is a few inches into your side of the property line, a neighbor hanging his/her things on the fence can be considered a trespasser. If you, however, gave them your permission, then there’s no problem.

It depends. If the fence is on your side of the property line then yes. You’ll, however, still have to adhere to the local ordinance and HOA regulations regarding the color of the fence.

If you share the fence, you’ll have to consult with the other neighbor first before proceeding with the painting.

Yes! As long as you don’t encroach into their side of the boundary, you can always put up your fence next to theirs. Doing this gives you the freedom to try different materials and fence designs as allowed by your local HOA.

Property line encroachment refers to a situation where a neighbor or strangers builds a structure such as a fence, shed, deck, etc., over the property line into your property. The encroachment may be intentional or unintentional.

Yes! If your neighbor has built a structure inside your property lines, you can sue them in the local courts. However, most experts recommend seeking alternative options first including talking to the neighbor or seeking mediation. Going to court should always be your last resort!

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