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What is a spite fence and what should you do about one?

On Behalf of | Sep 27, 2021 | Firm News

A lot of boundary disputes involve fences. For instance, you may believe that the new fence that the business owner who owns the property next to yours just put up is actually on the wrong lot. You think it’s a few yards onto your property, essentially allowing that person to “steal” the land.

Now, this could be intentional or it could be an accident. You don’t know, but you still understand that the lot line needs to be respected and the fence needs to be moved.

In some cases, though, you may have an issue with a fence that is on your neighbor’s property, but that still negatively impacts the value of your property. This is sometimes known as a spite fence, and it may be illegal.

How it works

A spite fence is one that is designed to be unsightly. It has no purpose and is not useful, but it has been built specifically to harm your property value. There is a level of malicious intent in this construction; i.e., it was built out of spite.

For example, the neighboring business has a fence on your property. You ask them to move it. They’re angry, since this will be a very expensive process, but they can’t deny that you are correct. It is on your land.

When they move it, they extend it upward. Instead of a five-foot fence marking the line, they erect a 20-foot fence. Clearly, the goal here is to box in your property, ruin your view, and hide your business from the street. They’re doing it to make your property less attractive and to cost you business. Even if the fence is technically on their land now, they’ve taken steps to ensure that it has a negative impact on your life and your company.

What should you do?

You can imagine how frustrating this would be on a daily basis and how much the value of your property would plunge if you were looking to sell. That causes real financial harm. You must be sure that you know what legal steps you can take to put a stop to it.