Salt Lake City, UT asked in Real Estate Law for Utah

Q: Is it legal for the neighbor to remove a fence on our shared property line without our consent?

Our joint fence was completely removed, and they have embarked on a 5 week process to construct a retaining wall and new fence. We were given no written plan or written notice. They have excavated on our property, and they are trying to get us to pay part of their project.

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
Kenneth Prigmore
Kenneth Prigmore
  • Spanish Fork, UT
  • Licensed in Utah

A: If both landowners paid to install a fence directly on a property line in the past, then yes, they need your permission to remove or replace the fence. Many fences are not built on a property line, but are instead just on one property or the other.

If you have had your land surveyed, you may be able to determine your exact property line. You or your neighbor are free to build new fences without permission as long as neither the fence nor any construction or excavation encroaches on the other's property.

Fences are a common property dispute, and can have long term effects. If a fence encroaches significantly on someone else's land for many years, this can actually become the new legal property line in some cases. This unplanned change in property line is unlikely in a subdivision where property descriptions on deeds simply state "Lot 23 in the NewHaven Subdivision Plat A".

If the new fence won't look bad, it may be in your best interest to allow it to be built or cooperate as necessary just to keep peace between neighbors. I have had clients who ended up moving after disputes became so hot no one was happy. You are not required to pay for the fence, and you have an argument that you wanted the old fence, so your neighbor's destruction of the old fence requires them to pay for a replacement. (This argument is weaker if the old fence was falling apart.)

This generic information does not create a lawyer-client relationship. I have not been given enough information to give you advice on which to rely.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.