What Happens If a Neighbor Builds a Fence Over My Property Line?

fence on property lineIt can be very distressing to discover a neighbor has built a fence on your land. Whatever you do, don’t overreact. There are steps you can take to get relief.

Note that this isn’t legal advice. We’re fence contractors, not lawyers!

However, this situation is pretty common, and we often hear these kinds of questions. These situations are also why we work as hard as we do to make sure we’re complying with all laws, property surveys, and ordinances every time we build a fence.

First, get a survey done. It’s a good idea to make absolutely sure that you’ve been wronged before you start making accusations and taking steps.

If you do discover the fence really is on your property line, make sure that you stay calm. Do not, for example, try to tear down the fence yourself.

Tearing down the fence yourself means you’ll be damaging your neighbors property. It can really muddy the waters when you go to seek recourse – courts really don’t like it when people try to take the law into their own hands, and two wrongs don’t make a right.

It’s better to get help from a real estate attorney. You’ll be able to explore the options and remedies that are available to you.

Sometimes a well-worded letter from an attorney is all that it takes to get the matter resolved. In other cases, the dispute may well have to go to court before it can be resolved.

If the case is decided in your favor you can typically get the fence removed. Sometimes you can recover some of your legal costs, too.

If it’s not decided in your favor, at least you won’t have opened yourself up to a lawsuit by smashing up your neighbor’s fence! This is another good reason why you should use legal remedies rather than taking matters into your own hands.

You should definitely not ignore the situation. If you do ignore the situation your property lines could eventually be redrawn to give your neighbor ownership of the additional land if you do.

Of course, if you build a fence you’ll want to protect yourself from accusations that you are building the fence on your neighbor’s property, since such an accusation can prove costly and stressful to you as well.

Whether you’re building a fence in Fox Point or Shorewood, you should always make sure you know what your property lines are before building a fence. When we do our free estimates for our customers, we always walk the property with the homeowner and explain to them what we do to ensure when we build their fence, we’ll stay within their property lines!


  1. Joshua says:

    My mother in-law owns a duplex & with her past neighbors has never had boundary issues. Now the back is separated by a fence, but the front is not. Her latest neighbors use the whole front & allow their dog & kids to destroy it, as if it all belongs to them. For these reasons, my mother in-law has stopped planting things in the front because they always get ruined. I am thinking about putting up a simple temporary fence for now, just to keep the neighbors on their side…could this come back to bite me (or my mother in-law)?

  2. Daniel says:

    My neighbor out up a fence facing me not the 6ft as is code it’s 8ft now I want to put up a fence to block out his ugly one exactly the same height as is.What will happen to me if he reports me? Should be nothing since the code enforcer did nothing when I told him years ago that it was higher than should be

  3. VideoPortal says:

    The next time something happens, stop and think about an appropriate response. If the neighbors are still playing loud music every night, it’s time for another complaint. If the neighbors have been relatively quiet for weeks and are now throwing a birthday party, put in earplugs and give them once a year to be loud.

  4. michael fletcher says:

    Twenty years ago the owner of an apartment house next door allowed me to erect a fence that encroached about two feet onto his property. He told me to put up my fence soon because he was going to sell the property. Now the latest owner of the apartment house, he has owned it for a few years, has threatened to have me remove the wooden fence that separates his driveway from my house. Without the fence, His property is within 8 inches of my house

    Do I have any rights to stand on, grandfather clause?

    Thanks for your help and advise.


    • George says:

      Check out the “adverse possession” laws in your state.

    • Khalida says:

      My neighbor knocked out the fence then build a wall on the boundary of my garden and his garden but at the same time broke the boundaries and build the wall on land . at no time did he inform me that he was going to knock down the fence and build the wall there .from what know is that he was suppose to build the wall 3feet from the boundary.this happen about 15 years ago what I like to know is can I do any thing to get my land back? And if the walll is not build within building regelation how and what can I do about it? Please reply many thanks

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