Fences – Maintenance of Boundary Fences

Carol and Ann have been neighbors for years. In between their two properties, there is a boundary fence. It is a white, wooden rail fence. The farmer who originally owned Carol's property erected the fence. The fence is nearly 100 years old and has fallen into disrepair. Carol really doesn't take care of it. Ann would like to make some repairs to the fence. What are the parties' rights and responsibilities?

Many properties, particularly residential properties, have boundary fences on at least one side. Generally speaking, the neighbor who erects the fence has the responsibility for maintenance; however, if an adjoining neighbor uses the fence as a boundary fence (perhaps, by erecting fences on all other sides), then the neighbor has some responsibility for the fence, as well. The issue is largely governed by state and local law. As state and local law varies widely from place to place, the applicable law must be consulted directly for further details.


We all hope to live harmoniously with our neighbors. Sometimes, however, disputes arise due to varying lifestyles. There are many ways to resolve disputes, including talking with the neighbor and entering into some type of negotiation. Another way to resolve neighbor-to-neighbor disputes is mediation.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. In mediation, the parties to a dispute come together, with a mediator, in attempt to resolve their differences without resorting to courts or law enforcement agencies. The mediator is a neutral, third party with no interest in the proceeding other than assisting the parties in resolving their dispute. The mediator uses his or her training in dispute resolution techniques to help the parties come up with ideas on how to resolve their differences and assists the parties in structuring their discussions.

Is there a fee for the mediator's services?

In most cases, there is a fee for the mediator's services. Notably, however, the range of fees charges by mediators for mediation services varies widely from state to state. It may also be possible to obtain no-fee or low-fee mediation services.

Where can more information be found on mediation services?

Further information on mediators and mediation services is available from:

  • lawyer referral services

  • churches

  • telephone directory

  • hospitals

  • local police department

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