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If Your Neighbor Wants a Fence, You May Have to Pay Your Share

If Your Neighbor Wants a Fence, You May Have to Pay Your Share
Unless certain exemptions in the age-old fence law apply.

You have land near a farmhouse that was sold off by the adjoining landowner years ago. There's three acres there that goes with the house. You've been a good neighbor, careful not to spray next the garden in windy conditions and always try to avoid working that ground near the house if it is real dusty. The people who bought it from the adjoining farmer didn't have livestock. There's an old fence, but it's not good enough to hold in livestock.

If Your Neighbor Wants a Fence, You May Have to Pay Your Share

Now the property sells and you get a knock on the door. It's your new neighbor, introducing himself. He introduces his 4-H age kids, and says that, by the way, they want to have horses and cattle. A friend told him that if he built a fence you would have to pay half of it for the portion where the two properties join. He hopes that's not an inconvenience.

Seeing how you don't have livestock and didn't budget for a fence, it is an inconvenience, but it may not be worth getting g off to bad neighbor relations over the cost of the fence. And yes, Mark Thornburg, attorney with Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc., notes that with a couple of possible exceptions, he's probably right. You will have to pay for half of the 'partition' fence along your joint property lines.

The law, still in effect, says that you must pay for the construction and maintenance of a fence tight enough to hold animals on your right side, as you stand in the middle of your adjoining property line, and look to your right. The neighbor would be responsible for paying for the half as he looks at your property and views what's on his right.

Some tweaking to the law a few years ago and the trend for towns and cities to extend city borders could work in your favor, however, the attorney notes. The statute specifically now states that if the property is within the city limits, the fence law and requirement to pay for half of the partition fence no longer applies. With some communities extending their borders out several miles, there is agricultural land interspersed with houses in some areas. In those locations, the fence law is no longer valid, the attorney says.

One of the pieces of land must also be agricultural. Obviously, you're farming your side of the line, so that won 't get you half off the hook if it's outside corporate limits. Note that the two-mile buffer zone cities can claim for certain purposes does not apply here.

The neighbor must also be building a reasonable fence, not just a decorative fence that's costly and expecting you to pay half. The best bet is to see if you can work out a deal amicably with your neighbor to have the work done and move on, if you're outside the city limits of any neighboring town or city.

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