Good Fences, Pt. 2

Welcome back readers,

Today we finish up our piece about fence law with a few notes about maintaining an existing fence.

As always, if you have specific legal questions, please seek out an attorney. This blog post is not a replacement for sound legal advice!

  • Maintaining an Existing Fence:
    • If there is an existing fence that needs repair, a neighbor can seek to compel repair, or contribution for repair, using the steps above.
    • Once a fence is built, the duty to maintain the fence is ongoing[1].
    • If you need to repair a fence, you may enter your neighbor’s land to make repairs, but only to the extent “reasonably necessary to construct, maintain, or repair the division fences”. Any alterations, such as removing trees, is not allowed[2].
      • Each neighbor has a duty to prevent any trees or other woody growth from damaging the fence, up to and including trimming and tree removal. If such growth damages the fence, the other neighbor may bring a private nuisance action to compel the neighbor to remove the tree or woody growth[3]
    • Keep in mind that if you have livestock that trespass, you are responsible for any damage done. However, if the damaged party has caused negligent or willful damage to their agreed-upon portion of the fence, and your animals trespassed through that breach, you may not be liable for any resulting damage[4].
    • Also keep in mind that fences do have an important evidentiary function in boundary disputes.

 

“Love your neighbor as yourself; but don’t take down the fence.” – Carl Sandburg

 

[1] Neb. Rev. Stat. § 34-112.

[2] Neb. Rev. Stat. § 34-112.01.

[3] Neb. Rev. Stat. § 34-103.

[4] Neb. Rev. Stat. § 54-401.

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