4 Important Privacy Fence Etiquette Tips

Posted on: 28 September 2015

There are plenty of good reasons to consider erecting a privacy fence around your property. You may simply be seeking privacy, or you may want the additional benefits of being able to keep children and pets safe from the road, or you may be looking for a little extra home security. Whatever your reasons, it's important to keep in mind that your fence may affect your neighbors as well as yourself. While you're certainly within your rights to put a fence up on your own property, there are some things that you can do to ensure that the new addition doesn't cause any unwanted tension in the neighborhood.

Have a Conversation

Nobody likes sudden surprises. If you arrived home one afternoon to find that the view from your window was totally different, would you be a bit peeved? That's probably how your neighbors will feel if you put a large fence up without so much as a head's up.

You don't have to ask permission, but you can avoid a lot of possible tension if you let your neighbors know that you're putting up a fence ahead of time. Assure them that you'll take steps to ensure that the fence is only on your property line and that you'll maintain the fence and won't allow it to become an eyesore.

Avoid Property Line Disputes

One of the most important things that you can do before you put up a fence is make sure that you know where your property ends and your neighbor's property begins. There's no faster way to make an enemy out of a neighbor than by putting a fence (or any other structure) on the property they own.

Before you have any work done on the property, take a look at the plat for your property. A plat is a drawing that's done based on a survey of the property. It shows the property line locations, among other things. You should have gotten a plat during the home-buying process. If you can't find it, though, you can get a record plat online, or you can have a new survey done to ensure that you know exactly where the property lines are.

Check Your HOA Rules

You probably know that you need to obey any local laws and city ordinances for putting up a new structure like a fence. But if you live in a neighborhood with a homeowner's association (HOA), you need to make sure that you're adhering to their rules too.

Many HOAs have very specific rules about how high a fence may be, what colors it may be painted, or how you must maintain your fence. These rules are intended to keep the neighborhood uniform and neat and keep everyone's property values up and are often agreed upon by the majority of the community. Failing to follow the rules set out by your HOA can not only irritate your neighbors, it can lead to fines and other consequences from the people in charge of your neighborhood's HOA.

Maintain the Fence

Once you have the fence in place, it's important to keep it looking new and nice. Even if everybody was happy about the fence when it first went up, your neighbors aren't going to be too thrilled if you let it deteriorate.

Different fences need different types of maintenance. If you have a vinyl fence, it may only need to be cleaned and hosed off every few months. Wood fences are more labor-intensive and will need to not only be cleaned, but will also need to be stained or repainted periodically. Ask your fence installer to fill you in on the best practices for keeping your fence looking great.

By being up front with your neighbors, respecting their property line, following the local rules and maintaining your fence long-term, you can enjoy your privacy fence without worrying about any unwanted tension in the neighborhood.