Who has rights to the fence?

This is a completely hypothetical but my wife asked me last night and I had no clue.

Suppose there was a fence that was exactly on the property line between my and my neighbor’s property. I am going to assume that it is a stockade type fence so that you couldn’t see through.

The question is, do we each have the right to paint our sides of the fence as we see fit? What determines this? I am in Pennsylvania but since this is Hypothetical, I’ll take the answer for any jurisdicition.

Thanks in advance for your help!


It may differ in your area, but 'round these parts, a fence is usually the property and responsibility of one party only; the neighbour must seek the permission of the owner before doing anything to it, and must allow reasonable access for the owner to perform maintenance on it.

On Land Registry plans, the ownership of a fence is usually indicated by a T shaped symbol, sticking out from the line of the boundary into the property of the owner.

How do you anchor a fence in butter?

(I live in the UK)

Around here, if the fence is equally on the property line, and there is no HOA with restrictive CC&R’s to prevent it, the parties can paint their side of the fence as they choose. When it is on one side of the property line, the other party must have permission from the owner to paint or make any modifications. In many neighborhoods there are HOA’s with restrictive CC&R’s and it doesn’t matter where the fence is, permission must be obtained from the HOA.

In my case, my back-yard wall is on my property. I really don’t care what my neighbor does to his side, as long as I can’t see it and it doesn’t adversely effect the structural integrity.

I’m sorry, HOA and CC&R are what exactly?

HOA–Homeowners Association

CC&R–Covenants, Codes, and Restrictions

Gary T Thanks so much! I should have gotten Homeowners’ Association. Not enough coffee.

That’s not a problem in the neighborhood where we live.

I would imagine I can do whatever I like to my side of the fence, as long as it doesn’t affect the neighbor’s side. I’ve had the redwood fencing replaced on two sides of my house, now, and I just assumed it was a form of joint ownership since I split the costs with the neighbors in both cases, which seems to be the standard procedure. Thanks to offset lots, the last fence along the back involved 5 houses each getting a separate bill, proportional to how many feet were on each property.

You may find that ownership and maintenance of “boundary fences” (that’s the technical term for them) is codified in the state statutes.

Minnesota’s Partition Fence law

Legal summary on Indiana’s Farm Fence Law (which apparently despite the title applies to all landowners outside urban city limits).

A court case revolving around Pennsylvania’s Fence Law, and another one.

Interesting. I read the PA case (it’s the same one twice) and the Indiana Farm fence law. Didn’t get to read the minnesota one.

Where would I look to do research on PA state law? IANAL so it never really came up.