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One of the most confusing and mis-understood aspects of home ownership is the fencing that surrounds a property. Who owns it and is responsible for its repair? What happens if it is blown down by wind? Are there regulations on the type of fencing where you live? Is fencing covered by homeowners’ insurance? Here is a look at some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to residential fencing.
Who owns the fencing around my property?
If a certain type of fencing completely surrounds your property or backyard, the odds are very good that you own it. If the fencing matches other fencing that surrounds a neighbor’s property or yard, it is a good probability the fencing is their’s. If there is no fencing, or the fencing differs from other fencing in the vicinity, the best way to determine ownership is through a survey.
What is involved in a survey?
If your property is in a newer neighborhood, your county may have a recent survey on file that shows your property lines. If not, you may have to invest a few hundred dollars in getting a survey. The surveyor will mark the corner points of your property with steel pins. Running a string or placing a chalk line between these pins will show your property line. If a fence is on your side of the line it is yours. If it is on the line it may be considered a border fence, and ownership is determined by occupancy, or the person who maintains the property up to the fence. Ownership of a fence can also be determined if the fence is attached to a structure. Whoever’s property the structure is on may be considered the owner of the fence.
Will homeowners’ insurance cover damage to my fence?
Your fencing will likely be covered under the “other structures” provisions in your homeowners’ insurance, provided the damage is from a covered peril. Wind damage or a fallen tree, for example, would likely be covered but not damage from overgrown landscaping or an errant riding mower.
Are there fencing regulations?
Many communities and particularly homeowners’ associations have regulations regarding the size and type of material of which fencing may be constructed. Before starting any fencing project check with your county or HOA.
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