Vermont statutes state that property owners of adjoining lands must build and maintain equal parts of a fence that divides their lands. If you decide to build a fence around your land in Vermont, you’ll need to notify your neighbors in advance so they can prepare for the additional expenses.
Vermont is known as The Green Mountain State—but what about its fences? Fences are a unique part of your property because they can potentially affect someone else’s property—and even lead to significant disputes. If you have a fence or you’re thinking about building one on your property, it’s very important to know the fence laws in your state.
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What are the Vermont fence laws?
24 V.S.A. 3801,
24 V.S.A. 3802, and
24 V.S.A. 3805cover the rules and regulations concerning boundary fences in Vermont. The principle of Vermont fence laws is that property owners of adjoining lands need to make and maintain equal parts of a fence separating their lands. The landowners must keep their parts of the fence functional.
This essentially means the total costs associated with the fence will be split evenly between the landowners, but each person is responsible for their own portion of the fence. If you decide to make any changes to an existing fence, you must provide at least 10 days notice. The notice you send to the other landowner should include:
- A description of your plans for the fence
- An estimated timeline to complete the fence
- Estimated costs to complete the fence
- An invitation to discuss the proposal
Exceptions to the Vermont fence laws
What happens if one of the property owners wants to look at cheaper options than what was proposed—or doesn’t want a fence at all? Can you be required to pay for a fence you don’t want under Vermont’s fence laws?
The answer: sometimes. Vermont law says that both property owners have to make and maintain their own portions of a fence, but there is another option. The selectboard of the town can decide whether or not a property owner is required to build and maintain their part of a fence. The decision of the selectboard will go on record and is the final word on the matter.
Vermont has one law dedicated to “spite fences.”
24 V.S.A. 3817in the Vermont state code states that “a person shall not erect or maintain an unnecessary fence or other structure for the purpose of annoying the owners of adjoining property by obstructing their view or depriving them of light or air.” The fine for violating this law cannot be more than $100.
Key Takeaway Unless the town’s selectboard decides otherwise, fencing costs must be split equally between neighbors in Vermont.
Does Vermont law require fences?
The only kind of fence you may be required to have as a homeowner in Vermont is a pool fence. Vermont law, including the state’s building codes, does not have regulations regarding public or private pool fences. Pools are not required to have fences in this state.
Cities and counties typically enforce their own pool regulations, so you may have local rules to reference for your pool. If you are a pool owner, you need to carefully look over your local laws to make sure you are following all pool fencing requirements.
How to legally build a fence in Vermont
Ready to get started on building your fence? Begin by informing your neighbors who have land right next to yours. If you aren’t sure where your property lines are, make sure you have your land surveyed before proceeding any further.
Next, write a “good neighbor fence letter” to your neighbors. This will make sure they are aware of your plans and comfortable with their new financial responsibility. You’ll want to send this letter at least 30 days in advance in order to give them enough time to respond. You can try to resolve any disagreements privately, but you should prepare for court if there are any major disputes.
In most cases, permits aren’t needed to build a fence in Vermont. The law states that a sufficient fence is four and a half feet high. However, you may need a permit if you decide to build an especially tall fence or your city or county laws require it.
Does homeowners insurance cover fences?
The “other structures” listed in your homeowners insurance are where fences fall. Fences will be covered for up to 10% of the coverage limit listed for your dwelling. It will also be covered for the same perils as your house, including vandalism, lightning, and fire.
If your fence gets damaged by a wildfire, a storm, or a tree that fell from your neighbor’s yard, you’ll need to double check your homeowners policy to see if it will be covered. If the damage will be covered by your policy, make sure you take photographs to send your insurance company when you submit your claim.
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Do I need a permit to build a fence in Vermont?
You do not need a state permit to build a fence in Vermont. However, you may need one depending on your county or municipality so you need to brush up on your local regulations.
Can my neighbor make me pay for a fence in Vermont?
Yes, your neighbor can make you pay for a fence in Vermont unless the town selectboard decides you are not financially responsible for the fence.
Can I build an 8-foot fence in Vermont?
Yes, you can build an 8-foot fence in Vermont. You will need a permit to build a fence of this height since it is well above the 4.5 foot height of a “sufficient fence.”