A Guide to Oregon Fence Laws

The fence laws in Oregon are set up to encourage landowners on both sides of the fence to equally bear the cost of maintaining the fence.
Written by Jim Alexander
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
When it comes to your neighbors, the fence laws in Oregon are set up so that both landowners have equal ownership in the fence.
What benefits both should be maintained by both, so the law states. But not all neighbors are friendly, and inevitably there can be disputes about the payment for repairs to fences, where the fences can or should be placed, and what happens when some neighbors step over the line—quite literally.
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What is the law when it comes to fences in Oregon?

Fencing law in Oregon is found in
Volume 3, Title 10, Chapter 93
of the Oregon Statutes.
The basic idea enshrined in these codes is that a well-maintained fence is a positive for both neighbors, no matter who originally put the fence up. Because each landowner derives equal value from the fence, each landowner should be equally responsible for reasonable costs associated with the replacement, construction, and upkeep of the fence.
Here's where Oregon’s law differs from some other states—the neighbor who does not erect the fence will only pay this equal share if the fence helps complete “the enclosure of the latter’s field.” 
You do not need to help pay for your neighbor’s enclosed yard if it gives no benefit to yours.
If you do decide to use your neighbor’s already completed fence to help enclose an area of your own, you must pay one-half of the value of that piece of the fence line as agreed upon between both parties.
If you and your neighbor cannot come to an agreement about the fair price of that fence, Oregon law allows the original builder to bring their neighbor to court to recover costs.

Exceptions in the fencing code 

The good news in Oregon is that you can never be charged for a fence you do not use. The law only kicks in when one neighbor voluntarily uses another neighbor’s fence in order to help complete their own.
But what if you share a fence and your neighbor decides to tear it down? According to Oregon law, a neighbor who desires to dismantle a fence must give six months’ written notice.
If the other party wants to keep the fence up, they have two months to negotiate a fair repayment with their neighbor. Any disagreements on sums may be arbitrated by ‘two disinterested parties,’ who may, in turn, add in a third party if they cannot agree.
Another exception to the fence law is that no neighbor may remove a fence if doing so would cause damage or destruction to a neighbor's crops. 

Spite fences 

There is no state-wide law in Oregon when it comes to spite fences, which are fences erected by neighbors only for the purpose of annoying other neighbors. For instance, a neighbor who builds a 20-foot-high fence in front of their neighbor’s living room to block their view.
There may be local ordinances and zoning laws that prescribe the height and placement of fences, so be sure to check with your local government offices for more details.
Key Takeaway If you live in Oregon, you will only have to pay for fences that help you complete an enclosure on your own property.

Does Oregon law require fences?

Oregon law only mandates fences to be built around public pool areas, such as in a community pool or a shared pool in an apartment complex. 
Here’s what the law requires you to build if you own a property with one of these pools:
  • Fences shall be no less than four feet high, and the space between bars no larger than four inches.
  • Gates must be self-closing and swing “out” from the pool area.
  • Gates must have a lock or combination keypad.
  • Durable and low-maintenance construction materials should be used.

How to legally build a fence in Oregon 

Oregon does not have a legal requirement that one neighbor informs another neighbor before building a fence along their shared property line, though it still may be a good idea.
If your neighbor accidentally builds a fence on your side of the property line against your wishes, you must give your neighbor notice in writing of your desire for them to remove the fence. 
Once they receive this letter, they have one year to remove the fence from your property. By law you may not remove the fence yourself or otherwise damage the fence during that one year.

Does homeowners insurance cover fences? 

Fences are considered “other structures” under your homeowners insurance policy, and they’ll typically be covered for up to 10% of your coverage limit. Your fence is covered against the same types of perils as your main structure, including fire, hail, lightning, and vandalism. 
If your fence is damaged by a storm or a neighbor’s falling tree, check the details of your insurance policy to see if it’s covered.
MORE:How to choose the right kind of home insurance for you

How to save money on homeowners insurance in Oregon 

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Oregon has no state-wide law when it comes to fence permits. However, many local governments have specific ordinances, so it’s still a good idea to check with your local housing office before you put up that shiny new fence.
Sometimes—if you share a fence with your neighbor that helps complete your own enclosure, you will share in the costs for that fence. But if your neighbor puts up a fence that you do not use, then you are not required to pay for the fence.
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