Fences Law and Legal Definition
Almost all states have fence statutes designed to protect livestock and also to protect people and property from the damage that livestock can do. Such laws may provide that the owner of an animal causing injury or damage on a property not enclosed by a lawful fence shall not be liable for such damage or injury. That type of fence law is referred to as an "open range" law. In "closed range" laws, it is the responsibility of the animal owner to keep cattle or sheep enclosed or be liable for damage they do. Fence statutes may require a varying height for fences according to the type of animal enclosed therein.
Local laws may also regulate height and location, and some also control the material used and even the appearance of a fence. Many cities require a building permit to construct a fence at all. There are regulations governing how far fences must be set back from the street and ownership and maintenance of fences on boundary lines. Some regulations require that fences are not to be built over easements unless a gate with access to the easement is provided, while others prohibit fences in or parallel through easements. Fence laws vary by jurisdiction, so local laws must be consulted to determine the applicable requirements.
The following is an example of a state statute regulating fences:
"All inclosures and fences must be made at least five feet high, unless otherwise provided in this chapter. If the fence is made of rails, the rails must be not more than four inches apart from the ground to the height of every two feet. If the fence is made of palings, the palings must be not more than three inches apart. If the fence is made with a ditch, such ditch must be four feet wide at the top and the fence, of whatever material composed, at least five feet high from the bottom of the ditch and three feet high from the top of the bank and so close as to prevent stock of any kind from getting through."