You've probably heard the saying, "good fences make good neighbours," but the truth is, no matter how great your fence is, if you don't practice a little "fencing etiquette," you run the risk of ruining relationships with your close neighbours. Fortunately, it's not too difficult to ensure you maintain your privacy and your neighbourly relations with a little common sense and careful planning. Here are some tips to help you be a good neighbour with your fencing.
Know your boundaries
Never place a fence on any other property than your own. By putting your fence on even one inch of your neighbour's property, you risk seeing it torn down if they want it moved. Placing your fence on your neighbour's property is known as a form of trespass, and your neighbour could be well within their rights to have the fence taken down by court order if you build on their land. To avoid this, and the ill-feeling that could come from it, know exactly where your property lines lie by obtaining a survey and clearly marking your property borders.
Follow zoning and bylaws
Local bylaws often stipulate exactly how high your fence can be, and although most local governments won't actually go around looking for rule-breakers, your neighbour would be well within their rights to call the city if you build a fence that does not meet the regulations set in these bylaws. You could be forced to remove your fence if the local government says that it is in violation of these regulations, so do your homework and build the fence to code to avoid any problems.
Check with your HOA
Home owners association rules may dictate the style of fencing you can use, how high the fence can be, and how you maintain it. Unless you want a dispute later on, double check with your HOA before having your fence installed. Don't rely on your contractor to know the rules, even if they have installed other fences in your neighbourhood. It's your responsibility to make sure your fencing follows the guidelines, not the contractor's.
Confirm maintenance details
In Canada, a fence that is built along a property line that joins two properties can be jointly maintained by both parties. If the fence runs along both properties, you can even force your neighbour to help with the maintenance, if they agreed to the installation of the fence. However, that hardly makes for happy neighbours, so it's a much better idea to work out exactly who will be responsible for the maintenance of the fence before it is ever erected.
Even if the fence is built entirely within your property boundaries, you may find that you have to go onto your neighbour's property to maintain it. If this is the case, be sure to let your neighbour have plenty of advance warning. Also, be sure to be respectful of their property while you are on it, and take care not to damage it in any way while maintaining your fence.
Notify your neighbour
Although you don't have to seek your neighbour's permission to put up a fence, it's common courtesy to let them know that you will be having one installed. This will allow them to secure their own property and pets while the fence is being built. This will also allow you to work through any property line issues that may exist before they become major problems.
Make your fence attractive to your neighbour
Although it's not required, it's polite to put the more finished, "pretty" side of the fence facing your neighbours and the rest of the street. It also makes your fence and property look more attractive to passersby, and can even help boost your property value.
Fences are a great way to make your property look great and keep your land secure. Just make sure you are practicing good etiquette when installing your fence, so you'll keep your neighbours happy and your relationship with them intact.