Pearl, MS asked in Civil Litigation for Mississippi

Q: Is a neighbor you share a backyard fence with required by law to pay half when the fence needs replacing? (Mississippi)

This was an existing fence in a portion of my backyard when I purchased my home in 2003. It fell down during Katrina and my neighbors added 2x4 support boards to the existing frame and hung it back up. It’s an eyesore and it’s rotten and falling down. I have written them and tried to discuss replacement, but they refuse to contribute to the cost. Local people say I own the fence because of the way the “good side” faces and the homeowner has actually threatened me when I said it was coming down. I need to know what the law actually is regarding this matter. Thank you for clarifying for me.

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
Michael Graves
Michael Graves
  • Hernando, MS
  • Licensed in Mississippi

A: The fence belongs to (i.e., is owned by) whoever's property it is on. There may be a zoning/building ordinance in your city/county that requires that the "smooth" side of the fence be on one side or the other, you would need to check that with your local planning and/or building department. But, even if so, that does not mean that fences are nevertheless sometimes built not in compliance with that type of ordinance. Either way, the "neighborly" thing to do would obviously be to share in the expense (but you'll then also probably have to have the discussion about who gets what "side" of the fence (absent an ordinance specifying)), but there is no law requiring an adjoining landowner to pay half of an expense for an improvement on your property, even if it is an obvious benefit to them as well. If you do not know whose property the fence is on, you will need a survey. If it is on the neighbor's property, you can consider putting up your own fence, but you would want to make sure to check with the planning and/our building department in your jurisdiction before doing so.

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.