You and your neighbor have a fence between your lots, but you do not both have your own fence on your side of the line. You have a single fence, running right down the property line itself.
From an aesthetic perspective, this design makes sense because it keeps the yards from looking cluttered. It’s also functional. You only need one fence to separate the properties.
The problem is that people often can’t agree on who owns the fence or what rights they have. If you only had a fence on your side of the line, you would own it outright and you could make all of the decisions yourself. However, who owns that fence that is right on the line?
Generally speaking, you both do. That’s the heart of the problem. You usually cannot take the fence down, attach anything to the fence — such as canvas, signs or lattice — or significantly alter it without talking to your neighbor. You both can trim overhanging tree branches. Ideally, you will want to share any costs, such as painting the fence or repairing broken sections.
Many neighbors get along and share their fences easily, but not all. This can be a tricky situation, and it is often a good idea to sit down with your neighbor, talk over the legal side of things and get any agreements in writing. Creating a plan for how to take care of the fence in advance can eliminate a lot of future disagreements.
Of course, if it’s too late for that and you and your neighbor are already involved in a serious disagreement, make sure you understand your rights and all of the legal options you have.
Source: FindLaw, “Neighbor Fence Disputes,” accessed April 29, 2018