As a property owner in Virginia it is important to be aware of the laws regarding fences. Knowing the laws can save you a lot of headaches and prevent any disputes with neighbors, or violations with the county or town you live in.
The first thing to do before erecting a fence on your property is to have a surveyor come and confirm exactly where your property lines lay. Once you’re sure of your property lines, look to see if there are any restrictions on the type of fence you can have. There can be county ordinances, town ordinances, and neighborhood rules which you may have to comply with in order to put up a fence. Lastly you should play it safe and put the fence several feet inside your property line. Placing a fence right on your property line has the potential for it to turn into what’s called a “division fence.
A division fence’s purpose is to divide adjoining landowners’ property and because the fence is on the line between properties, both property owners can use it. Thus, a division fence is legally owned by both adjoining property owners. A division fence cannot be removed by either owner without the consent of the other; however an owner may maintain and repair a fence in disrepair, and both landowners are responsible for half the costs incurred according to Virginia law. It is also important to note that because adjoining land owners share ownership and cost of a division fence, you should always consult with your neighbor before making any changes. For many, it is very common for a fence to already exist on a boundary line when you purchased your property.