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Ask Angie: Who owns a shared fence?

It's not unusual for fences to be built along a property line shared by neighbors. (
It's not unusual for fences to be built along a property line shared by neighbors. ( Photo by Katelin Kinney

Dear Angie: The fence that encloses my backyard is shared with three other neighbors and is in bad shape. With a shared fence, are maintenance or replacement costs typically also shared? — Steven O., Vallejo, Calif.

Dear Steven: Fences can often come between neighbors. Ownership almost always depends on the property line and on which side of that line the fence stands.

You might be surprised to learn that a fence that you consider as partly yours is not owned by you at all.

A land survey matters

This is yet another reason why having your land surveyed is so important. Definitive ownership of trees and fences depends on accurate surveys.

Even so, it's common for homeowners to share a fence because many times the structure is built directly on the property line, and more than one owner shares use. Builders often place a fence on a property line when putting houses beside each other.

Owners should split costs

If ownership of a shared fence is established, maintenance and repair expenses should be split equally among the owners. In case of storm damage, insurance companies are accustomed to dividing repair costs among multiple owners.

Angie Hicks compiles the best advice from the most highly rated service pros on Angieslist.com to answer your questions. Ask Angie your question at askangie@angieslist.com.

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