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Bundren Law Firm P.C. Bundren Law Firm P.C.

Who’s Responsible for Fence Damage in Oklahoma?

Serving Families Throughout Tulsa

When a fence between you and a neighbor is damaged, which one of you is responsible for repairing it? That’s a question that can quickly test just how “neighborly” two homeowners can be. Among the serious possible disputes between neighbors, boundary line disputes involving fences take the cake.

As its name implies, a boundary fence is supposed to divide two properties by laying along or within five feet of the legal line between them. We say “supposed to” because sometimes fences are built over property lines as the result of inaccurate surveys. When this happens, the neighbor whose property is encroached upon can sue to get the fence rebuilt in the correct location. If they don’t the other neighbor could eventually claim adverse possession – but that’s a topic for another time!

For now, let’s assume that a boundary fence is sitting perfectly along the line separating two properties – who owns it? This is an important issue because whoever owns a boundary fence is ultimately responsible for its upkeep. Suppose the wind blows your fence down – are you or is your neighbor responsible for repairing it?

Under Oklahoma law, both neighbors are equally responsible for the upkeep and repairs of their boundary fences. Because the fence straddles the property line, neither homeowner is entirely responsible for it – its repair and upkeep are generally considered to be a joint effort. This means that if one neighbor makes repairs to the fence, they can reasonably request a 50% reimbursement from the neighbor on the other side.

When Responsibility for Repairs Isn’t 50/50

There are circumstances, though, where a damaged fence isn’t always the responsibility of both neighbors. Damage that was obviously caused by one neighbor, a member of their household, or a guest becomes the responsibility of that neighbor to repair.

If the fence is built more than five feet away from the property line, it’s considered to belong to the homeowner whose property it’s on, and that individual is responsible for its upkeep. Even if such a fence is damaged by a fallen tree from an adjacent property, the homeowner who owns the fence is responsible for the repairs. This is because homeowner’s insurance covers damage to structures on one’s property, and a fallen tree would likely be considered a force majeure or “Act of God” event that the neighbor to whom the tree belongs couldn’t be held liable.

Finally, if a double fence separates two properties then each neighbor is only responsible for the fence facing into their property.

Do You Have a Legal Question or Problem?

If you have a legal question or problem concerning a fence on your property or another boundary line issue, you can reach out to our attorney at Bundren Law Firm for assistance. We have many years of experience assisting clients with property law issues, including those such as these.

Request a consultation with us today when you call (918) 992-3300 or contact us online!