A Guide to New Jersey Fence Laws

New Jersey has fencing laws in place for the containment of cattle, sheep, and horses. Individual cities may regulate residential fences.
Written by Nicole Salvia
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
New Jersey
fence laws mainly concern the construction of barriers to contain cattle, sheep, and horses, while individual cities may regulate residential fence construction. City and township committees handle fencing disputes between neighbors. 
In the Garden State, you will need to get a
zoning permit
for any fence, no matter its height. This is especially true for homes within city limits. Exact regulations differ by county and city, so you’ll need to familiarize yourself with your city’s fencing regulations before breaking ground. 
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What are the laws governing property lines and fences in New Jersey?

Most states have laws in place governing details on property lines and fences for people living in suburbs or neighborhoods. New Jersey’s
laws regarding fences
mainly concern the containment of cattle, sheep, and horses. 
It’s up to local governments to regulate the construction of residential fences and to settle any neighborly disputes in the Garden State. Let’s review two types of fences that can be a source of conflict:

Boundary fences

Boundary fences are used in agricultural areas to protect the property owner’s livestock (cattle, sheep, or horses) or to separate yards between neighbors in residential areas. 
In general, property owners must abide by these specifications for boundary fences:
  • Four feet and two inches high
  • Strong enough to keep cattle or horses from going through 
  • Barbed wire fences are not allowed unless your neighbor agrees
  • If property owners share a boundary and are using both of their lands for pasturage or keeping animals, they must jointly maintain a partition fence between their lands or agree to keep all land open
  • Fencing disputes are resolved by the township committee
Unlike in many other states, if only one neighbor uses the fence for keeping animals or pasturage in New Jersey, the other adjoining neighbor isn’t required to contribute towards the fence’s construction or upkeep.
For adjoining neighbors sharing the fence, if one party wants to remove the fence, they’ll have to
provide a year’s notice
in writing of their intention. 
If a notice is not given within the specified timeline, then the party removing the fence is responsible for the damages to the other party plus both parties’ legal expenses.

Spite fences

You can’t always win the “neighbor lottery,” but hopefully you don’t end up with one you wish you’d never met, like someone who puts up a spite fence just to annoy you!
Spite fences can include any fence that is excessive, interferes with neighbors using their property, or extreme in taste—like a 10-foot-high blockade that prevents you from enjoying your property views. 
Since New Jersey requires a zoning permit for any kind of fence (and many cities impose height restrictions), you shouldn’t find yourself waking up to a spite fence next door. 
If this does happen, however, a New Jersey court would rule any fence that doesn’t comply with local regulations unlawful. 
Key Takeaway In New Jersey, every fence requires a zoning permit. 

Does New Jersey law require fences?

The only type of fence you are required to have as an everyday New Jersey property owner is a pool fence. Regulations to abide by include: 
  • The swimming pool must be entirely enclosed by a barrier, wall, or a fence that is at least five feet tall. Additionally, you should not be able to squeeze a spherical object that is four inches in diameter through any openings.
  • The barrier fence must be secured by a padlock or similar locking device that has a latch located at least 54 inches above the ground. 
A property owner who fails to abide by these laws will be subject to a disorderly persons offense. This offense can be redacted if you make a good faith effort to remedy the issue within 45 days.
If you’re one of the many Garden State homeowners who maintain a swimming pool or are thinking of adding one, make sure that your barrier fence meets the above requirements. 

How to legally build a fence in New Jersey

If you want to build a fence around your property or pool in New Jersey, you’ll need to start by obtaining a zoning permit (regardless of desired fence height) and make sure you adhere to the guidelines set by your local government.
If you are replacing an existing fence, you will need to obtain a new zoning permit before any construction begins. 
Most New Jersey homeowners associations (HOAs) enforce a maximum backyard fence height restriction of six feet in residential areas. Front yard fences are topped at four feet.
For corner properties, fences are limited to three feet in height on all sides, depending on your town ordinances or homeowners association. If you need a taller fence, you can apply for a variance from your local planning department.

Does homeowners insurance cover fences?

Fences are considered “other structures” or property improvement under your homeowners insurance policy and are usually covered for up to 10% of your home’s dwelling coverage limit. 
Your fence is usually covered for the same
named perils
list as your home—which usually includes fire, hail, lightning, and vandalism, among other things. 
Fallen trees are more tricky when it comes to insurance. If your fence is damaged by a neighbor’s neglected old tree, check the details of your insurance policy to see if that type of damage is covered. 
If you decide to file a claim for any reason, always include photographs of the fence before and after the damage.

How to save money on homeowners insurance in New Jersey

The average cost of home insurance in New Jersey is $1,744, making New Jersey the 14th least expensive state in the country for home insurance.
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Yes, you need a zoning permit in order to build any type of fence on your New Jersey property.
It’s possible, but you’re not likely to succeed in building an 8-foot fence in New Jersey. Remember that you’ll need a zoning permit regardless of your desired fence height.
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