A Guide to Delaware Fence Laws

Shared fences are to be maintained by both neighbors equally in Delaware, but the fence viewer determines the sum each party pays.
Written by Talullah Blanco
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
, property owners on either side of a fence share equal responsibility for maintaining the fence. If you build a partition fence you’ll need a fence viewer to determine how to split the costs. 
Shared fences have the potential to cause tension and even lead to legal disputes between neighbors. That’s why it’s essential to know your state’s fence laws if you are a homeowner that has a fence or are considering building a fence.
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What is the Delaware Code Title 25 Property Chapter 13?

Delaware Code
Title 25 Property Chapter 13
is based on the common law of fencing in livestock. However, subsection 1304 outlines the regulations regarding the maintenance of partition fences in the state. 
Partition fences erected on a property line must be maintained equally between neighbors and fence viewers will determine what sum of money should be paid by one party to the other. 
Essentially, property owners on either side of the fence share equal responsibility for maintaining the fence. The division of costs associated with a fence, from construction to major repairs, will be determined by a team of fence viewers who come and assess the partition fence. 

What are fence viewers? 

According to Title 25, fence viewers are appointed by the Superior Court and “shall be the sole judges of the sufficiency of any fences, of the charges of making or repairing partition or other fences, and how borne, and of damages by animals trespassing.”

Exceptions to Title 25 Property Chapter 13?

If a dispute arises regarding the fence, whether one neighbor has livestock animals, refuses to pay their half of maintenance, installation, or repair costs, then the other can file a case with Superior court-appointed fence viewers in your district. 
A team of viewers will come to your property and inspect the fence to make a judgment on the charges. 

Spite fences

Although Delaware does not have a specific law regarding spite fences, the courts do recognize the common law principle that bans them. 
Spite fences are any fences or fence-like structure that is built or maintained by a property owner for no other purpose than to annoy a neighbor. 
Neighbors suffering from a spite fence can sue to request removal and even receive monetary compensation for damages. 
Key Takeaway Fence maintenance costs are split evenly between neighbors, but fence viewers will determine who pays what in the event of repairs or installation.

Does Delaware law require fences?

You’ll be required to build a fence in Delaware if you live on a farm and own livestock to prevent animals from damaging your neighbor’s property. 
There are no statewide residential pool fencing requirements, but local laws and requirements may vary.

How to legally build a fence in Delaware

Before you begin building your fence, you should check with your neighborhood council to determine if you need a building permit to install a fence on your property. Each district has its own rules and regulations regarding permitting. Some require a permit for fences that are greater than 7 feet in height while others require one regardless. 
If you are a member of an HOA your community may have additional restrictions in place regarding material, location, and height. 
Once you’ve determined whether or not you need a permit to build your fence, make sure your plans adhere to the following statewide lawful fence requirements and standards: 
  • Constructed of wood, iron, stone, well-set thorn, or a combination of wood and iron
  • The fence must be four and a half feet high or four feet high and have a ditch within two feet of it 
  • Barbed wire cannot be used for partition fences unless mutually agreed upon by affected property owners
  • Fences composed of barbed wire or razor wire are not permitted in the residential districts without prior approval from the local county or municipal zoning board unless they are enclosing a farm or school
You can find what is considered a lawful fence in
Subsection 1301
of Delaware Code Title 25 Property Chapter 13. 

Does homeowners insurance cover fences?

Your homeowners' insurance policy will provide coverage for “other structures” such as fences for up to 10% of your main dwelling’s coverage limit. 
Just like your house, your homeowners' insurance will pay to replace or repair your fence if it’s damaged by a peril outlined in your policy. Your fence will be protected from most natural disasters and vandalism but your typical home insurance policy won’t cover earthquakes or floods.

How to save money on homeowners insurance in Delaware

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There are no statewide laws that require a permit to build a fence in Delaware, however, your Township may require it.
Your neighbor can’t make you pay for a fence in Delaware but the Superior Court-appointed fence viewers can. You are required to maintain a shared fence.
Depending on where you live you can build an 8-foot fence in Delaware but you may need a permit to do so.
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