Whether you’re dealing with an old or new fence, property line disputes seem to always arise between neighbors. In Idaho, these conflicts are pretty common. And without legal intervention, they usually lead to many costly and unnecessary lawsuits.
Here’s what you need to know regarding the property line fence laws in Idaho.
Yes! In most jurisdictions, including Idaho, you don’t need the permission of your neighbor to erect a fence inside your property line. However, if even a tiny part of that fence strays into your neighbor’s land, the story changes.
The neighbor could file a suit opposing the fence, even if it lies on the properties’ boundary.
You might also experience some hitches with the law if your intended fence violates any of the city’s ordinances. This could be anything from the height restrictions to the style and color of the fence relative to that of your neighborhood.
Who pays for a fence between neighbors?
For boundary fences, Idaho’s fence laws stipulate that each neighbor should erect or contribute to the erection of one-half of the fence. The neighbors should therefore share costs for building the fence and also maintenance and repairs.
If one neighbor refuses to pay for half of the fence, the other neighbor can proceed and pay the total cost for the fence then seek reimbursement of the costs in court.
According to section 35 – 103 of the Idaho Statutes, a neighbor is, however, required to give a 6-month notice in writing before taking any legal action.
Do I need a permit to build a fence in Idaho?
Yes! Idaho city ordinances require homeowners to get a $5 – $8 permit to erect a new fence around their property. However, in some municipalities, you won’t need a permit for fences shorter than 7 feet.
Depending on the location of your property, you might also require a Floodplain Development Permit. The permit requirements differ slightly in each town. So, check-in with the local building inspection department first to confirm which permit you’ll need (if any).
When applying for the permit, ensure you include a site plan, structural and material plans, the fence height, and data with the depth of the post in the ground.
Can I replace an existing fence without a permit?
No! All counties and districts in Idaho demand that you have a permit when replacing an existing fence. Even if you’re using a similar replacement, the state laws will need to ensure that all ordinances are adhered to.
The good thing about replacement permits is that they’re relatively easy to obtain if the local codes haven’t been revised.
How tall can a fence be in Idaho?
Most zones and counties in Idaho cap their residential fence restrictions at 6 feet. Front yard fences are restricted to between 3 – 4 feet, depending on the zoning in your district.
The backyard and corner lots are restricted to a height of 6 feet. In most towns, you can also apply for a variance or permission to build a fence taller than 7 feet if you have a valid reason, for instance, noise from commercial properties.
If you live in Boise, the requirements to receive a Variance are stipulated under Section 11-03-04.14, Variance.
You can check these requirements for your city on their website.
Who owns the fence on property lines in Idaho?
It depends on your agreement. According to the Idaho code, a boundary fence belongs to both neighbors unless you agree otherwise. Both neighbors are required to maintain and cater for their one-half of the boundary fence.
You can also agree with the neighbor to let one party own and maintain the fence if you don’t think you’ll need it.
Just ensure that any agreement you make remains documented in a contract. If a new neighbor moves in, you’ll need to revise the agreement based on their opinions and needs.
Do I need a survey to determine the boundary?
Not really, but if you don’t know the correct location of the boundary, hiring a surveyor is the best way to determine the boundary.
Doing a survey will not only provide an accurate position of your boundaries, but it might also be a requirement if you need to sell a portion of your property.
Some cities and municipalities will also demand a boundary survey for them to grant you a building permit.
Other ways you can determine your property’s boundary are through the local county assessor’s office or the title deed.
Do I have to tell my neighbor I’m putting up a fence?
If you’re building the fence on your property, you don’t have to tell them. However, if you’re putting up the fence on the property line or too close to the property line, you’ll need their consent.
Failure to inform your neighbor when making such a critical decision may toss you in a lawsuit wrangle for a long-time.
Can my neighbor build a fence on the property line?
No! Idaho recognizes joint ownership for a fence on the property line. Therefore, your neighbor can’t build a fence on the property line without your permission.
He/she should first need to send you a written notice detailing their intention so you can confirm that the fence won’t encroach on your property.
Once you’re in agreement on the parameters for the fence, you should have the details about it written down in a legal document.
If the neighbor constructs the fence without your permission, you can take legal action against them and have the fence removed.
Idaho boundary fence laws at a glance
This table provides an overview of some of the state laws governing Idaho’s fence law and links to their original documents.
|Statues||Partition Fences||Max heights||Spite Fences|
|Boundary fences: section 35 – 103 and section 35 - 106|
Spite fences: Sundowner, inc. v. King
|If two persons own adjoining lands enclosed by a fence, each party should contribute one-half towards the erection of the partition fence.|
The partition fence should be as close to the property line as possible
When a neighbor refuses to pay their half for the fence, he/she can complete the fence then ask the other party for the half with a court order.
|The fence limit for all residential properties stands at 6 feet.|
Front yard fences are limited to 3 or 4 feet.
Backyard and side fences are restricted to about 6 feet.
|Idaho Supreme court determined that any fences erected to annoy or injure a neighbor are illegal.|
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.
Who owns and maintains trees on the property lines in Idaho?
Both adjoining neighbors. The state of Idaho allows each neighbor the right to trim and maintain the tree on the property line but in a manner that won’t kill it or infringe the rights of the other neighbor.
If you need to remove the tree, both neighbors will have to meet and agree on the decision.
Yes! As long as your fence is about an inch or two inside your property, you can build the fence next to your neighbor’s fence. If it’s, however, on the property line, you’ll need to seek the neighbor’s approval before moving on with the project.
Building your own fence will give you the freedom to hang anything on the fence and even repaint it with the colors you want.
Yes! There are several free mobile and pc apps that can accurately show you the property lines on your land. One of them is the LandGlide app, which is free on the Google Play store.
Other apps such as Google Earth, Onx hunt app, and Zillow DMP also attempt to show the property lines for your land.
However, some app data may not always be the most accurate information to use to find your property lines. When possible, hire a professional surveyor to get the job done.
The first step should always be negotiating with the neighbor. Try and see if you can find common ground with the neighbor. If that fails, write them a notice, then opt for mediation.
When everything fails, you can then move to sue the neighbor for settlement. The court allows either party to ask the magistrate for three viewers who can assess and resolve the issue quickly.
In other cases, all that you need is to hire a surveyor to help you determine where the property line is.
Suppose it’s a boundary fence, no. You always have a say in the fence on the property line, and so if you don’t want it removed, you can sit and try to find a solution that works for both of you.
If they go ahead and remove the fence without your consent, you can take them to court.
For fences inside the neighbor’s property, he/she won’t need your permission to remove their fence.