One of the most popular fencing expressions you’ll hear is that “Good fences make good neighbors.” While this might be true, there are times when conflicts arise among neighbors sharing a common boundary fence.

In such a case, most neighbors try different approaches in an attempt to resolve the conflict but only end up making it worse. If you’re ever in such a dispute, knowing the Nebraska fence laws might shed some light on your problem.

Can I replace an existing fence without a permit?

It depends on the jurisdiction of your city or neighborhood. However, many district regulations require all properties to obtain a fence permit to replace the existing fence with a different material or increase its height.

Other regulations, however, won’t demand a permit. Consult a local fence contractor to find out whether you’ll need the permit.

How tall can a privacy fence be in Nebraska?

The fence regulations limit front yard fences to 4 feet and 6 feet for the back and side yard. Fences on corner lots are restricted to 3 feet, with a maximum of 4 feet in height, depending on your location.

These height regulations are, however, slightly different in each county, so check the regulations in your area.

Who owns the fence on property lines in NE?

Nebraska fence statutes under section 34-102 recognize all adjoining neighbors as owners of a boundary fence. It requires each neighbor to construct and maintain an equitable allocation of the fence.

Many property owners determine their portion of the fence through the Right-hand rule. This means each neighbor meets on the boundary line then chooses the side of the fence on their right.

However, the property owners are allowed to come up with a separate agreement regarding fence ownership.

How do you know where the property boundary is?

The location of your property’s boundaries is usually indicated on your deed. If you’re yet to receive the document, you can also find these details from past survey records.

One thing to look out for is any past agreements between previous owners that could have resulted in boundary alterations. These changes may not always be indicated on the deed so, you should also check the local recorder’s office for such information.

In a case where even your neighbor contests the position of your boundary lines, you can hire a surveyor who will help you identify the boundary accurately.

Can my neighbor build a fence on the property line?

Yes! Your neighbor has the freedom to build a fence on the property line, but they’ll first need your consent.

Since the law requires each adjoining neighbor to contribute to the ownership and responsibilities of the fence, you both have to agree on a just proportion, which each one should contribute.

Based on section 34-103, each neighbor is required to maintain and keep their portion of the fence in good repair.

If one neighbor refuses to contribute or repair their fence portion, the adjoining neighbor has to write them a 7-day notice. If they fail to work on the notice, he/she can then proceed to file a suit in the county court.

Important: Use of fence viewers was abolished in Nebraska.
The good thing, however, is that if both adjoining neighbors don’t desire the division fence, they are under no obligation to build one.

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

Yes! Building a fence is allowed on your side of the property line as long as it doesn’t violate any local fencing ordinances. Such fences are usually regulated by your local area’s Homeowner’s Association.

If you’re not sure about the location of your boundaries, your first step should be to find it. The law allows you to agree with your neighbor where both of you think the boundary should be, or you can pay for a survey.

This will ensure you don’t encroach on the neighbor’s land.

Is Nebraska a fence out state?

Nebraska is both a fence in and fence out state. This means that a property owner with livestock is required to fence their livestock inside their property. At the same time, the other neighbor is required to fence livestock out from their property.

In this case, the livestock-owning neighbor will pay for damages caused by his/her animals if they escape due to their negligence towards repairs on their fence portion.

Likewise, if the livestock escaped because the adjoining neighbor failed to maintain their fence portions, the livestock owner won’t have to pay a dime.

What is a spite fence?

This refers to a fence erected by one property owner for no beneficial use other than to irritate, harm, and annoy the neighbor. In most districts, such fences are illegal since they tend to violate their fence regulations and zoning ordinances.

However, the law in Nebraska doesn’t directly address spite fences. Instead, they are considered a private nuisance, and the affected neighbor can sue in court on such grounds.

What is a “lawful fence”?

The Neb. Rev. Stat. § 34-115 defines a lawful fence as any of the following:

  • Rail fence consisting of at least six rails
  • Board fence consisting of at least three boards, five inches in width and an inch thick
  • Rail and post consisting of at least three rails
  • Pole and post fence consisting of not less than four poles
  • Wire fence of at least four wires
  • Hog and sheep tight fence consisting of one barb wire at the ground
  • Other fences made from stone, hedge plants, rails, boards, and poles, among other materials.

Each of these fences have to be at least 4½ feet in height with spacings not exceeding a foot each, measured from the top.

Nebraska boundary fence laws at a glance

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

StatuesDivision Fences: Just ProportionDivision Fences: Maintenance; Private Nuisance
Neb. Rev. Stat. 34-102 Division fence; adjoining owners; just proportion

Neb. Rev. Stat. 34-103 Maintenance; private nuisance

Neb. Rev. Stat. 34-112 Division fence; injury or destruction; repair

Neb. Rev. Stat. 34-112.01 Division fence; entry upon land authorized
Adjoining owners: Must be a just proportion of the division fence between them;

“Just proportion” - an equitable allocation of the portion of the fence line to be physically constructed and maintained by each owner or an equitable contribution to the costs to construct and maintain the division fence;

The fence should be a wire fence unless the owners agree otherwise.
Adjoining owners must contribute to the construction and maintenance of the division fence and must keep it in good repair;

Good repair includes the necessary or trimming of trees encroaching upon the fence line to repair or avoid damage to or dislocation of the fence;

Trees that encroach onto the division fence and cause damage or dislocation of the fence is a private nuisance to the adjacent owner.

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

All adjoining neighbors are regarded as equal owners of the boundary fence between their properties. They are each required to contribute in equal portions towards the fence unless they’ve agreed otherwise.

If a newly erected fence is blocking your view, you can take legal action against the fence owner on grounds of private nuisance. The court may order the removal of the fence.

The short answer is no. Your neighbor requires your permission to hang anything on your wall, be it plants or fixed nails. If they do, you can easily sue them for criminal damage.

Technically, you can do anything you want on a fence you own. However, if the fence belongs to your neighbor, you’ll have to obtain their permission.

Yes! Building a fence next to your neighbor’s fence allows you to hang things, stain, and repaint it without having to ask for their permission. You’ll, however, have to adhere to your HOAs fence restrictions.

Being a fence in/fence out state, a negligent neighbor is responsible for the damages, especially those caused by livestock on the adjoining neighbor’s property.

Even for owners and third parties who don’t own livestock, if the damages happen because you failed to keep your fence in good shape, you won’t be entitled to receive any damages money.

In court. Nebraska doesn’t use fence viewers anymore, and so, any dispute is handled and resolved in the county court or through mediation. The complaining neighbor must, however, send a 7-day notice to the negligent neighbor before going to court.

If you want to try mediation to avoid the expensive legal costs, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture can provide you with information regarding farm mediation services.

With leased lands, the ownership of the fence is usually indicated on the contract signed. In most cases, the landowner may be responsible for the fence and any damages caused by their tenant’s livestock. However, if the lease contract also includes an indemnity clause, the tenant then becomes responsible for the fence.

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