If you’ve just moved into a new property in New Jersey, the property boundary conversation is one you must have with your neighbor. To avoid disputes, you also need to understand how the fence and property line laws in NJ address such matters.
Here are some of the rights you should know as provided within these fence statutes.
However, you’ll need to obtain a zoning permit for any fence regardless of height, especially if the property is within city limits. Fences surrounding pools all need a permit and must also comply with the local ordinances in your area.
The regulations, however, differ in each county or city. Contact your local authorities for inquiries regarding the permitting.
Can I replace an existing fence without a permit?
According to most county fencing laws, you will need a permit to replace an existing fence – It won’t matter whether you’re replacing the fence with a similar fence. The only exception to a permit is in case of minor repairs on the fence.
Nevertheless, this regulation may be different in your area, so check with your area authority.
How tall can a fence be in New Jersey?
Most localities and homeowner’s associations have a maximum fence height restriction of 6 feet in residential areas. The fences erected on the front yard are capped at 4 feet in height and 6 feet for the rear fence.
For corner properties, most fences are limited to 3 feet in height on all sides, depending on your town ordinances. If you need a taller fence, you can apply for a variance from your local planning department.
Who owns the fence on property lines in NJ?
The New Jersey partition fence ownership laws are mainly based on property owners with livestock. Generally, adjoining neighbors keeping animals on their property are considered joint owners of the fence between them.
Each of them is expected to maintain a just proportion of the fence separating their lands.
If only one neighbor uses the fence for keeping animals or pasturage, then the other adjoining neighbor isn’t required to contribute towards the fence.
For adjoining neighbors sharing the fence, if one party wants to remove the fence, they’ll have to provide a year’s notice in writing of their intention. Failure to do this results in hefty costs for the damages accrued by one neighbor plus their legal expenses.
How do you know where the property boundary is?
Information about your property’s boundaries is usually indicated on the deeds of the property. Some deeds even include any covenants and contracts the previous neighbor could have agreed to.
If you don’t have the deed, you can also find the boundary information on plat maps of your area from your local assessor’s office. Some townships also have the maps accessible to the public on their websites.
In cases where you can’t agree with your neighbor, hiring a surveyor is the best way to locate your boundaries. They will mark each boundary easier and more clearly.
Can my neighbor build a fence on the property line?
Yes. If your neighbor uses their property to keep livestock, the law allows them to put up a fence on the property line. They will, however, have to consult you and seek your consent, especially if they intend to use barbed wire.
If you don’t use your land for pasturage, the fence laws won’t require you to co-own the fence.
But should any disputes arise, the neighbor can apply for any two township committee members within your locality to hear and determine the case. The committee will then send the defaulting neighbor a notice to make the necessary repairs within a specified period.
If the neighbor still fails to amend their just proportion of the fence, the complaining neighbor can repair or replace the entire fence, then seek compensation from the defaulting neighbor.
Can I put up a fence on my side of the property line?
Yes! A property owner has the right to build a fence inside their property line just as long as they don’t encroach into the neighbor’s land. A good practice is getting a survey done to define your property line boundaries before building the fence.
Different neighborhoods also have different rules regarding fence heights and setback regulations which you’ll have to follow.
In many cases, you should put up the fence between 2 to 8 inches from the property line. If you intend to use your land for agricultural purposes, the fence may have to be between 4 feet and two inches.
Be sure to also confirm with your local zoning regulations which materials can be used for the fence.
What is a spite fence?
A spite fence refers to a fencing structure built by a property owner for no practical reason but to annoy the adjoining neighbor. Such fences are usually illegal in most states in the country.
However, New Jersey doesn’t have any laws regarding spite fences. Victims of such a fence will have to file a suit in the local courts with enough supporting evidence.
New Jersey boundary fence laws at a glance
This table provides an overview of some of the state laws governing New Jersey’s fence laws and links to their original documents.
|Statues||Boundary Fence Rules||Spite Fence Rules|
|Boundary fences: NJ Statues title 4, sections 20-1, 20-3, 20-7, 20-9 |
Spite fences: New Jersey local zoning ordinances
|Fences in agricultural areas must be four feet and two inches high and robust enough to keep cattle or horses from going through them;|
Property owners can’t use barbed wire in boundary fences unless the neighboring property owner agrees;
When property owners share a boundary and are using their lands for pasturage or keeping of animals, they must jointly maintain a “partition fence” between the lands unless they decide to allow their lands to lie vacant and open;
Disputes related to fences or boundary lines are resolved by two members of the township committee where the property is located.
|In New Jersey, specific laws against "spite fences" don't exist. For installing any sort of fence, you must have a zoning permit. Any fence built must satisfy local building ordinances and codes.|
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.
In New Jersey, the owner of the fence is the neighbor who keeps livestock. If both adjoining neighbors use their property to keep animals, then they’re both considered joint owners of the fence. However, one neighbor can’t compel the other into co-owning the fence.
While the New Jersey fence statutes don’t cover spite fences, past court hearings show that you can file a suit against the owner of the fence to have it pulled down. You will, however, have to prove how that fence is only meant to disrupt the enjoyment of your property.
Generally, no! Since the neighbor doesn’t jointly own your fence, they will first have to seek your permission before adding anything to it. Likewise, you also can’t hang anything on the neighbor’s fence without seeking their permission.
Yes! If you own the fence, you have the right to paint your side of the fence. However, you will still have to adhere to your local area’s neighborhood ordinances.
Bear in mind; some local fence laws require that the ‘good side‘ of the fence has to face your neighbor or the right of way. If the fence belongs to your neighbor, you’ll have to seek their consent first.
Yes. Neighbors who refuse to share fences have the freedom to build their fences next to their neighbors.
Doing this will allow you to incorporate your designs and preferences for the fence. However, you’ll still need to observe your local fencing laws. But if you’re working on a tight budget, try joining the neighbor’s fence.
Once you suspect your neighbor has encroached onto your property, your first step should always be talking to them. Ask them to remove their structure in your property or, better yet, sell that portion to them.
The next step should be mediation through the county assigned committee members in your area. If all these fail, then you can consider taking your neighbor to court.