For neighbors to maintain a peaceful relationship, they often have to compromise on a lot of things. However, when it comes to property line disputes, many neighbors tend to be more aggressive and refuse to compromise.
What’s worse, many don’t know how to find solutions that benefit both parties, leading to hectic litigations. Luckily, the Kansas property line fence laws address most of the issues that lead to such disputes. Here are some of the crucial statutes you should note.
You won’t need a permit to build a residential fence in most counties in Kansas unless the proposed fence will be six feet or greater in height. However, some homeowner associations may have extra rules regarding fence installation.
For commercial fences, you might need to observe different zoning restrictions and also obtain a building permit. It all depends on the regulations of that metropolitan area.
As a rule, always contact the local municipality office if you’re unsure whether the project needs a permit.
Can I replace an existing fence without a permit?
However, some local ordinances will allow you to replace your fence without a permit if you’re replacing it with a fence of a similar height and size.
How tall can a privacy fence be in Kansas?
In residential districts, fences are allowed a maximum height of 6 feet. The front yard fences should be open and not exceed 4 feet, while the side and rear yard fences may not be over 6 feet. Corner lots are also restricted to 6 feet.
In some cases, the height restrictions may extend to 8 feet, depending on the gradient of your property.
Property owners can also apply for a variance if they intend to build a taller fence.
Who owns the fence on property lines in KS?
The general rule in Kansas is that a fence on the boundary of two properties belongs to both property owners. This means that each neighbor has to share the cost of installation and maintenance equally.
However, in a case where one neighbor doesn’t see the need to have the fence, they can’t be forced into ownership.
This is backed by the fact that Kansas is a fence-in state, where the neighbor with livestock is required to build a fence. If the other neighbor doesn’t have livestock and thus has no need for the fence, they are not obligated to contribute towards it.
But if the non-livestock owner ‘uses’ that fence such that it encloses their land, they’ll have to contribute their equal share.
How do you know where the property boundary is?
Usually, most neighbors locate their property boundaries by hiring a surveyor to map out the actual property lines.
Others check their local assessor’s office for plat maps of their area or visit their online website for the same. You can also locate the property’s boundary from your title deed if you have it.
Another method, specific to Kansas, is the use of the Doctrine of Practical location.
Can my neighbor build a fence on the property line?
Yes! The law allows your neighbor to construct a fence on the property line if they see the need to. The good thing, however, is that you won’t have to contribute towards the fence if you won’t use it.
Your neighbor should therefore consult you before erecting the fence so you can agree on the responsibilities.
If you can’t agree with the neighbor regarding that shared fence, the Kansas laws allow you to involve ‘fence viewers’ – who are usually the town’s county commissioners.
The viewers will review the fence controversy then come up with a final solution, detailing in writing an equal share that each neighbor is required to install or maintain.
Can I put up a fence on my side of the property line?
Yes! Property owners in Kansas are not restricted from building fences on their side of the property line. You, however, have to obey the local zoning ordinances regarding the fence height and setback restrictions in your neighborhood.
While you don’t have to inform your neighbor, telling them beforehand is always good for your relationship. You should also consider conducting a survey to find the actual boundaries of your properties.
What is a spite fence?
Spite fences refer to any fencing structure built by a property owner to annoy the adjoining neighbor. They generally have no other purpose but to injure and disrupt the neighbor’s enjoyment of their land.
In Kansas, the law addresses such fences under the section of private nuisance. It allows property owners to file suits against spite fence if they can show:
- Substantial, intentional, and unreasonable conduct
- Interference with the enjoyment of their land
- Real and unreasonable damages
Kansas Fence Law Basics
Kansas fence laws have several definitions of a legal and sufficient fence. Under Chapter 29 Article 1 § 104-105, the law recognizes a barbed-wire fence of at least three wires, among other materials, as a legal fence.
Regarding building and maintenance of a partition fence, this law recognizes adjoining neighbors of a partition fence as co-owners of the fence. However, it doesn’t force one party to be liable for half of the fence.
Note: Kansas is a fence-in state, and so, a non-livestock owner isn’t legally required to share responsibilities for a partition fence.
Using the Doctrine of Practical Location
The doctrine of practical location is an equitable allocation doctrine that allows adjoining neighbors to agree on a common boundary location, even if it differs from the actual property line’s position.
Under this court-recognized law, a fence between adjoining neighbors can be recognized as a legal boundary if it’s been in use as a boundary marker for over 15 years.
There are three main ways through which this doctrine can stand i.e.;
- Property owners don’t contest to using the boundary for at least 15 years
- Both neighbors mutually agree to use the fence as a boundary
- Through estoppel (a principle that restricts a neighbor from going against what they previously said or did)
Using Fence Viewers to Resolve Disputes
Under the Kansas Statutes Chapter 29. Fences § 29-201, county commissioners are to be assigned as fence viewers in their respective townships to help resolve property line and partition fence disputes.
When adjoining neighbors can’t agree regarding their obligations in the maintenance of the fence, either of the neighbors can apply for the fence viewers to be involved.
Based on their assessment of your fence dispute, they will assign each neighbor in writing, their equal share to be maintained in good condition. Their decision is final and non-appealable and is documented in your county’s register of deeds office.
If any party chooses to disobey the fence viewer’s ruling, the other neighbor can erect or repair the entire fence, then charge the nonconforming neighbor the costs of the repairs plus your attorney fees if any legal action was required.
Kansas boundary fence laws at a glance
This table provides an overview of some of the state laws governing Kansas’ fence laws and links to their original documents.
|Statues||Nuisance Law||Local Fence Regulations|
|Kansas § 29-301: Partition fence maintenance |
Kansas § 29-401: Liability for not maintaining the fence
Kansas § 29-201: Fence viewers
|In Kansas, a private nuisance claim requires:|
Substantial and unreasonable conduct
Interference with another person’s ordinary use and enjoyment of his or her property
Real, substantial, and unreasonable damages
|City of Kansas City fences and walls
City of Leavenworth code enforcement
City of Overland Park residential fences
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.
The Kansas fence laws generally recognize both neighbors as owners of the partition fence. However, you don’t have to contribute to the fence if you don’t use it (or it doesn’t enclose your land). Only the neighbor with livestock is legally required to own a fence.
The laws in Kansas allow you to file a suit against such a fence, on grounds of a private nuisance. If you can prove this claim, the court can order a halt in its construction or complete removal.
Not unless they ask for your permission. For a fence that’s inside your property line, the neighbor needs your permission or risks being a trespasser. If the fence is on the property line, but he/she agreed not to be a co-owner of the fence, hanging things will violate the agreement.
You might need to involve fence viewers to determine how much they should contribute towards the fence maintenance for doing so.
Yes. Fence owners in Kansas have the freedom to paint their fences within the regulations of their HOA. But if you share ownership of the partition fence, you’ll have to consult your neighbor before making the move.
Yes! There are many reasons why you would want to have your fence instead of sharing it with your neighbor. You are free to build your fence next to theirs, but you’ll need to ensure that it’s about two feet from the property line to avoid encroachment.
Yes. Doing a survey before putting up a fence isn’t a legal requirement. However, most experts recommend doing so to avoid any disputes with your neighbor over property line encroachment. You also risk losing part of your land by adverse possession, if you don’t know where your boundaries are.
It depends. If the fence is on the property line, yes, you have to inform them about your intentions. This will help you determine cost and maintenance responsibilities. However, if it’s on your property, you don’t have to.