Thursday, November 21, 2013

Common Area Fences

There is no universal law or standard on common area fences. Generally, a common fence is one shared by two or more homeowners, where all property owners have an equal interest in and responsibility for the fence. But the definitions and rules vary by state and locale. Most common area fence rules are set out by neighborhood associations, defined residential areas or gated communities, apartment complexes and condominium associations. Does this Spark an idea?

Homeowner Fence Is Not Common

A fence built by a homeowner entirely on his own property at his own expense will generally not be considered a common fence, if it does not interfere with any neighbor's access or property and meets any local legal restrictions on type of fencing, height or stability. Disputes may arise over blocking of views, interference with drainage or similar issues.

Neighborhoods Define Fence Rules

A neighborhood association or defined residential area will define common fences in bylaws or similar protocols, to which a homeowner must agree. Common fences in these areas often are built and maintained by the association, with dues or assessments from individual homeowners. Associations may set rules for fences built by individuals, restricting height, materials and setbacks from streets or property lines. Homeowners agree to these conditions upon purchase.

Condos Have Common Fences

Condominium communities often build and maintain common fences. Fences usually are built at the time of project construction. Buyers are notified of rules upon purchase, and once terms are agreed to, the condominium agreement acts like a legal contract. Condominiums usually impose a maintenance fee as part of the basic agreement, to cover costs of fence construction and upkeep.

Neighbors Can Build Fences

Neighbors can agree on a common fence, where a single fence affects multiple property owners. Usually, neighbors will agree on the type of fence and divide the cost of construction and maintenance. These informal agreements, while often effective, can lead to disputes if property ownerships change, relationships among owners change or there are traumatic changes such as storm damage.

Tags: common area, common fence, defined residential, property owners, upon purchase