My Neighbor Wants to Build a Fence…Do I Have To Help Pay For It?

Question:  My neighbor wants to build a fence on the property line dividing our land because he wants to run cattle on his property.  I do not object to his desire to have livestock on his land or his building the fence.  He insists that I pay for half of the fence.  Do I have a legal responsibility to help finance this fence that will be built on the property line?

Answer:  No, Texas case law makes clear that a landowner has no legal obligation to help finance a fence built by his or her neighbor on the dividing property line.

As far back as 1890, the Texas Supreme Court stated, “if one proprietor encloses his land, putting his fence on the line, the owner of the adjacent land may avail himself of the advantage thereby afforded him of enclosing his own land without incurring any liability to account for the use of his neighbor’s fence.”  See Nolan v. Mendere, 77 Tex. 565 (1890).  Thus, a landowner is not required to share in the costs or maintenance of a fence built by his or her neighbor.

If, however, the neighboring landowner does not participate in the costs of erecting the fence, it is not considered a common fence but, instead, is the exclusive property of the builder.  See Conner v. Joy, 150 S.W. 485 (Tex. Civ. App. 1912).

Further, if the parties agree that each will maintain a portion of the fence, such agreement will be enforced.  See Adair v. Stallings, 165 S.W. 140 (Tex. Civ. App. 1914).

 

Tiffany Dowell grew up on her family farm and ranch in Northeastern New Mexico and is currently an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in ag law with Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.  This information is for educational purposes only, does not create an attorney-client relationship, and is not a substitute for the advice of a licensed attorney.