What Property Fence Laws Might Affect Landowners in Texas?
What are your responsibilities to fence your property? Do property fence laws in Texas require you to share in the cost of a fence or the cost of maintaining a fence? Attorney Philip Hundl answers a question about property fence laws in Texas.
Question: I live on a one acre lot outside of town. There is a fence between my land and my neighbor’s one acre lot. The fence is in fair condition and my neighbor insists that we must tear the fence down, construct a new fence and share the costs because a fence must “mark the property line” between our two lots. The cost to build a new fence will be expensive and I would rather not pay. Do I have to pay for part of the fence?
Attorney Philip Hundl: First, is the fence on your land or your neighbor’s land? If the fence is on your land, the fence belongs to you and you can do with the fence as you wish. However, the cost of reconstructing “your” fence would actually be wholly your expense. If the fence is on your neighbor’s land, then the fence belongs to your neighbor and you would not be responsible for any of the costs to reconstruct the fence. Generally, there is no requirement to “mark” a property line with a fence. There are several exceptions. A property owner may be required to fence his or her property by the terms of deed restrictions in housing developments or owner’s deed with restrictive covenants. For example, the owner of a roadway easement may be contractually bound to keep and maintain a fence to restrict animals from wandering onto the roadway.
Typically, there is no duty or requirement for a landowner or occupier of a tract of land to create and maintain a fence. However, there are often local ordinances or laws (stock laws) that require animal owners to erect and maintain fences to prevent livestock from straying off the owners’ premises. Stock laws vary county to county. Failure to restrain an animal in violation of a local stock law may result in the animal owner’s being liable for harm caused if the animal trespasses on a neighbor’s property or otherwise causes harm. Finally, be aware that there are other fencing laws or ordinances to take into consideration. Many municipal or county ordinances require that property containing an uncovered swimming pool must be fenced for the safety of those entering the property.
Attorney Philip Hundl has many years of experience in answering questions and representing clients in disputes concerning property laws and real estate laws in Texas. Wadler, Perches, Hundl & Kerlick has three convenient offices to serve clients in Southeast Texas. Our Wharton office and El Campo office are located in Wharton County and our Richmond office serves clients in Fort Bend County and Metro Houston. Call 800-929-1725 to make an appointment at any of our offices.
Philip J. Hundl is a shareholder at the law firm of Wadler, Perches & Hundl in Wharton, Texas. The information in this column is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of the law. Readers with legal problems, including those whose questions are addressed here, should consult attorneys for advice on their particular circumstances.