In Misc Topics, Uncategorized by John Tramontozzi

What if you come home one day and your neighbor is constructing a hideously ugly fence on your shared property line?  What can you do about this eyesore?

In Massachusetts the Building Code says that you can build a fence on your property with no permit as long as the fence is less than 7 feet tall.  You can build that fence right to the property line.  When the fence is on the shared property line, you and your neighbor are required to share responsibility for repairs and maintenance of the fence.

What if you have a dispute about either the property line or the maintenance of the fence?

This is what you can do:

  1. You can get a survey done of your property to determine where the property line lies.  If your neighbor’s fence has encroached on your property, you can file a complaint with your city’s zoning or permit department to have the fence removed.
  1. If it is determined that the fence lies on your shared property line, you and your neighbor can come to an agreement about your shared responsibility. You would put this agreement in writing and it would become legally binding.
  2. You can invite a fence viewer to handle any dispute.  Every town in Massachusetts has 2 fence viewers to arbitrate disputes.  They can determine if a fence is sufficient or even required on a property.   They also can decide how much neighbors need to contribute to the construction, maintenance and repair of a fence.  If either party refuses to pay their share, the other can demand twice that amount plus interest if it is more than 30 days in arrears.
  3. You can bring the matter before the court.

It is important to note that in Massachusetts you cannot build what is called a “Spite Fence”.  This is a fence which is built maliciously to annoy a neighbor or interfere with their enjoyment of their property.  They are generally taller than 6 feet. Spite fences are deemed illegal in Massachusetts.  If you can prove malicious intent, you can bring legal action for tort damages.

At Tramontozzi Law Offices, we can help.  We will review your case and determine the best course of action for you – whether it be drafting an agreement between neighbors, appearing before the zoning department or filing a complaint with the court.  Call us for a free consultation today.

Additional Resources:

MA Neighbor Property Line Disputes

Buying Your First Home and What to Expect