Property Line and Fence Laws in Idaho

Created by FindLaw's team of attorney writers and editors.

Good fences do not always make good neighbors. It's common for adjoining property owners that share a boundary line to disagree about boundary fences and encroaching tree branches. For this reason, many states have passed laws addressing these common property issues. If you are a property owner in the Gem State, read on to learn more about fence laws in Idaho.

Idaho Property Line and Fence Laws

Given the high likelihood for neighbors to disagree about fences along a property line, many states choose to pass laws governing these issues. Idaho has sections of its code specifically addressing boundary fences or "partition fences." The Idaho Code governs how such fences are built, who is responsible for maintenance and repairs, and how landowners can resolve disputes.

Some states also choose to prohibit the building of a "spite fence," which is a structure built by a property owner that serves no legitimate purpose other than to annoy or harass a neighbor. While Idaho Code doesn't address this issue, the Idaho Supreme Court has had an opportunity to rule on it and has held that a property owner can't erect a structure for the sole purpose of annoying or injuring a neighbor.

Tree Trimming in Idaho

It's also common for neighbors to have disputes regarding overhanging tree branches, which can drop leaves and fruit onto a neighbor's property. For this reason, some states have passed laws regarding a property owner's right to trim encroaching branches from a neighbor's tree. Typically, landowners are entitled to "self help" by trimming branches only up to the property line. Idaho doesn't have laws specifically related to encroaching tree branches; however, it's illegal trespass to enter the land of another and willfully or intentionally cut or injure a tree.

The following chart provides more information about Idaho laws governing property lines, fences, and tree trimming.

Statutes and Caselaw

Boundary Fences: Idaho Code Sections 35-103, 35-104, and 35-106

Spite Fences: Sundowner Inc. v. King, 509 P.2d 785 (Idaho 1973)

Tree Trimming: Idaho Code Section 6-202

Boundary Fences

  • Adjoining property owners can request the building of a partition fence to protect the rights and interests of one of the property owners.
  • After giving notice to the other landowner of your request that a partition fence be erected, that landowner is responsible for erecting, or causing to be erected, one-half of the partition fence.
  • Partition fences must be built on, or as near as practicable to the property line.
  • If, after receiving notice, the adjoining landowner doesn't erect one half of the partition fence, you have the option of erecting the entire fence and collecting one-half the expense of the construction.
  • Each landowner is responsible for maintaining his/her one-half of the partition fence, unless the neighbors otherwise agree.
  • In the event of disagreements between landowners regarding partition fences, either landowner may ask the magistrate judge to appoint three viewers to examine the fence and resolve the issue.

Spite Fences

  • Idaho case law holds that a property owner can't erect a structure for the sole purpose of harming a neighbor.
  • A spite fence that serves no useful purpose can give rise to a request for injunctive relief or damages.
  • Property owners don't have a legal right to "make malicious use of his property" for the purpose of damaging his neighbor.

Tree Trimming

  • Idaho law doesn't address a neighbor's right to trim encroaching tree branches up to a property line.
  • It's considered illegal trespass to enter the land of another to willfully or intentionally cut or otherwise injure a tree.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Property Line, Fence, and Tree Resources

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