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Jim Meade / Iowa City
Senior Advisor

Fence laws

Do fence laws need updating?  There is a suit in Iowa by a grain farmer who does not want to pay for his half of a fence his livestock raising neighbor wants to erect.  In Iowa, both line owners share the cost of the fence, which must be hog tight if one insists.  In the West, if you want cattle to not come on your property, you have to fence them out. 

Shoulld the person who wants the fence have to pay all the cost?  If they do, should the materials, construction and design be up to them?  Should they be permitted to encroach on the other landowners property if necessary to erect the fence?

I have no interior fences.  I've kep up all my line fences and will always have line fences, even if they won't turn livestock, because so far, they still turn tractors and combine.  (But not always coyote hunters pickup trucks.)

I like the law as it is - if one wants a fence, both pay for it...and both get at least some say in how it goes in.

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3 Replies
Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: Fence laws

Good fences may make good neighbors, but I can see where it would gripe someone to have to pay half the cost of something they had no design and cost control over. How does that work put? Does the installing farmer get to charge his adjoining landowner for his labor, too?

We have lived and farmed in two " fencing in" places, VA and NC. Here, if you want a fence, you pay the price alone. I guess in the wrong hands, that could mean a nuisance of some proportions, if someone wanted to run an eyesore all alongside your land.

I do know that our zoning guy once had drafted a" pretty side out" code section, which meant that the builder had to turn the better side ( usually an issue with wooden stockade or board and batten styles, for example) towards the neighbor's lot. There are provisions in the county code limiting the height of fences, but since they rezoning provisions, which by law are expressly not applicable to agriculture, I don't know that they could be enforced on farmers.

As for the case you cite, I think that the landowner who is contesting the cost may have an uphill battle, unless he invokes some constitutional issues, such as forced participation in commerce. I think there must be some truly bad blood between these two landowners, since this sounds like some spite might be involved...maybe one side complanng about cows in the corn?!?

Frankly, this is a strange case to fight, unless it is a really long or extremely costly fence. I have hired a lot of attorneys, and built a lot of fences, and fences are WAY cheaper...this guy will be paying a lot to prove a point.
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Pupdaddy
Advisor

Re: Fence laws

In Ohio, they recently revised the line fence laws. If I read your situation right...the adjoining landowner wants a fence..where no fence has previously been established (Or, there is no evidence of a previous fence). In that case, Ohio law provides that whomever wants the fence will pay for the entire length of fence themselves. In the case of an established..but run down fence, if the neighbor who doesn't require a line fence can prove, that the adjoining landowner will receive more benefit from the re-building of the fence (because they have livestock)...then there shall be a higher percentage of cost assessed to the benefactor. (I'm not clear who determines the percentage, whether it's the township trustees or the common pleas court.) But, if there is an established fence(or evidence of it's existence at one time) and neither recieves more benefit, where one landowner simply wants the other landowner to maintain their end.. neither has any choice but to pay the cost of maintaining it...or have the township trustees do it, and have the cost placed on their tax bill.

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SpringBrookFarm
Veteran Contributor

Re: Fence laws

I have built alot of fence and here in kansas as far as im aware if the fence is to be built on the property line and both parties are in aggrence of the fence then the cost is split and so is maintanence. If one party does not agree to the fence then the party that is wanting the fence moves on to their side 3 ft and is responsible for cost and maintanence.

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