An argument with your neighbors regarding your boundary fence can turn out to be very nasty if it’s not handled well. That’s why it’s important for all Florida residents to understand the state laws regarding fencing.
After all, good fences make good neighbors! Here’s an overview of some laws that may help you handle the disputes better.
For most residential home fences, you won’t need a fence permit. However, this only applies if you have a fence shorter than six feet in height when measured from the site’s grade and uses materials like wood, plastic, aluminum, chain-link.
If the fence is to be used on a commercial property with more than two-units, or one that’s more than six feet high, you’ll need a permit. You also need a fence permit if:
- The fence will be electrically or solar-powered.
- The fence will be close to public interest areas or planned districts where zoning permits are involved
- The fence materials include blocks or masonry, concrete, or any reinforcements
- The fence will be required as part of the Florida Building code.
How tall can a fence be in Florida?
The maximum fence height allowed in the state of Florida is six feet, but in some districts, the limit is extended up to 10 feet.
The back yard and corner lots are restriction of six feet, as with most states. The front yard has a limit of four feet. These height restrictions also apply to most natural fences like shrubs and bushes.
If you think you need a taller fence because of a noisy neighborhood like a gas station, you can apply for a one-time exception called a variance.
Can my neighbor build a fence on the property line?
Yes, but it’s not a legal obligation. The Florida laws allow any adjoining neighbor to erect a fence separating their lands with no obligations for you to share costs.
However, there needs to be clear communication and agreement (written) between the two of you to help you navigate any conflicts that may arise.
If you’ve decided to cost-share the costs of building, maintaining, and repairing the fences, ensure that the fence contracts include the responsibilities of each neighbor. You should also involve at least two unrelated witnesses of the contract.
If the fence is encroaching into your property, voice your concerns with the neighbor and give them a written notice.
Who pays for a fence between neighbors in Florida?
It depends on your agreement. Some neighbors don’t think they need a fence and so may not be interested in sharing costs. In such a case, you’ll shoulder all the costs.
If you both agree that you’ll benefit from the fence, you can then decide to share the costs 50/50. Make sure that these details are all documented in the contract.
For a fence that is on your side of the property, you’ll have to pay the full cost.
How close to the property line can I build a fence?
About 5 feet minimum, but these could vary depending on your neighborhood. In more populated areas, this distance could be as small as 3 feet and up to 8 feet depending on some HOAs regulations.
You should also ensure that your neighbor’s fence doesn’t encroach on your property. Some landowners lose part of their property this way if the neighbor they’ve used that land for a long time and you appear not to be using it.
If neither of you knows where the property lines for your properties should be, the Florida laws require that you get a surveyor to help you out.
What is a spite fence?
It’s a fence that a person puts up with no legitimate or useful reason but only to annoy and irritate a neighboring property owner. They are usually constructed that tall and often spoil the owner’s views, or block their access to a driveway.
In Florida, such construction is illegal, and reporting it may force the neighbor to bring down the fence. However, ensure that you always try mediation with the neighbor before seeking legal help.
Can neighbors attach things to a fence in FL?
Legally, no. Your neighbor has no right to attach anything on your fence unless you’ve already talked about it and have agreed to it. If they damage any part of the fence, they’ll be liable for the repairs and maintenance.
In Florida, if you built the fence yourself on your property, then the neighbor shouldn’t attach his things. If they refuse to remove their things, first send them a formal and certified letter, then you can proceed with a lawsuit.
However, if you’re working with a shared fence, this case becomes much harder since the neighbor is attaching things on his side and property.
Can I paint my side of the fence?
It depends on who owns that fence. If it belongs to your neighbor, you’ll need to ask them for permission. If you own the fence, you can do whatever you want.
For adjoining neighbors, you’ll still need their permission to repaint that shared fence – even if you’re only painting your side. If the fence lies on the neighbor’s side, you can’t paint your side – it’s illegal.
The best thing you can do to avoid conflicts with the fences is to ensure that you consult your neighbor even before you erect them.
Florida boundary fence laws at a glance
This table provides an overview of some of the state laws governing the fence laws in Florida and links to their original documents.
|Statues||Boundary fence||Max heights||Spite fence|
|Fence construction: Handbook of Florida Fence and Property Laws|
o Property line laws: 1 Florida Jurisprudence, 2d, Adjoining Landowners, Section 60
o Spite fence: Handbook of Florida Fence and Property Law: Maintaining the Boundaries and Grounds1.
|Florida has no legal fence laws|
There’s no legal obligation for any neighbor to contribute to the fence with the adjoining landowner.
You’re only obliged to contribute the maintenance and repairs if you bought the land with the fence already in place.
|The Florida laws restrict fences to about 8 feet. The front yard limit stands at about 4 feet, and the backyard is limited to around 6 feet.|
You can also apply for an exception called variance if you live in a noisy neighborhood.
|Any fence that doesn't appear to help your property in any way, e.g., protecting from vandalism and trespassing, can be considered as a ‘spite’ structure.|
Keep in mind; These laws are bound to change with time depending on the legislation, federal decisions, and other initiatives. Use the information provided above as a guide and research the latest regulations in your area.
Who owns the fence between neighbors?
In most states, a fence between two adjoining neighbors belongs to both of you, but it’s subject to what you agree. However, in Florida, the fence will only belong to both neighbors if you bought the land with the fence still existing.
In this case, you’re both obliged to share the costs of repair and maintenance.
If you choose to erect the fence, there’s no obligation for the neighbor to contribute to the costs. As long as the fence is on your side of the property, it belongs to you.
How close to the property line can a fence be?
Around 5 feet in Florida. You can extend it to around 8 feet or reduce it to around 3feet depending on the regulations in your area.
Can I make my neighbor pay half for a fence?
It’s possible, but it’ll be harder for Florida residents. With no laws obligating the neighbor to contribute to your fence, the only way you can make the neighbor pay is by proving they benefit from the fence in court.
One way to show that the neighbor benefits from the fence is if it completely encloses the property. In such a case, you’ll easily win the lawsuit.
However, if you didn’t involve the neighbor in the decision to build a fence, it will be impossible to make them pay. Always have a contract with your neighbor to ensure you don’t struggle through this process.
Can a neighbor remove a fence?
Yes! If your fence has encroached into the property of your neighbor, he/she can easily get a court order to remove the fence. If they have complete ownership of the fence, they have the right to do whatever they want with their fence.
The only issue may arise if you co-own the fence with your neighbor. In this case, he/she will first have to consult with you before moving forward with the project.
You’ll have to ensure that the fence removal process doesn’t violate your previous agreement. If the neighbor removes the fence before consulting you, he’ll have to first send you a certified letter alerting you of his decision.
If you don’t consent to remove the fence, he/she can also sue you in a small-claims court to get the fence removed.