Your dream of owning a home with a large front lawn, loyal dog, and white picket fence might be subject to some regulations and restrictions. In many neighborhoods, there are fencing protocols and laws that you need to follow in order for your house to be approved by a potential homeowners association. To absolve yourself of any unauthorized construction or trespassing fines, you need to be aware of the restrictions on residential fences that your neighborhood might enforce.
Fence Height Limits
In residential areas, the height of a fence is often limited to four feet in front yards and six feet in backyards. These heights are enforced by ordinances set by your city, county, or homeowners association. The requirements may also apply to “natural borders” such as bushes and trees. Fences must also be set back a minimum of six inches from the side and rear yard property lines, one foot from all front yard property lines, and six feet from any curb lines.
Image by Steve Buissinne
Any fence in a residential area must be created with good quality and must be firmly and sturdily footed into the ground. Fences made of metal must be galvanized and treated to prevent rust from forming. The metal in the fences must be at least eleven gauges or heavier as well. In residential districts, barbed wire and all fencing that is designed to injure are prohibited.
All structures that hold water (pools, water basins, etc.) are required to be surrounded by a fence. These fences are required to be built from wire mesh, brick, or pickets. Any gate or door opening on these fences are required to be self-latching or self-closing and must be securely closed at all times when not in use.
Fence Maintenance and Variances
All residential fences need to be maintained to be in good condition. Any fence that becomes loose, rotted, or rusted must be repaired, replaced, or removed by the homeowner. Fences that cannot support the weight of someone climbing on it without the fence bending, breaking, or moving can be deemed as not sturdy.
Should you seek to build a fence that violates any of the restrictions mentioned above, you can apply for a fence variance from your local zoning board. If a dispute arises between neighbors over the responsibility for a fence placed on a boundary line, ownership of the fence belongs to both parties (unless a prior agreement suggests otherwise). If there is an issue between neighbors, issues can be handled through one’s local government.
Do not let all of these rules and regulations discourage you from putting up a fence. Fence-builders and zoning laws are easily available at your disposal in most places. Purchasing homes with pre-built fences, such as with real estate in Toronto, is one way to bypass the stress that you might find yourself enduring from building a fence.