Nothing extinguishes the excitement of homeownership quicker than a property line dispute with a neighbor. Trouble can start over the maintenance of a shared fence, or a few unruly tree roots that damage your neighbor's property. Once a problem occurs, it can be hard to find a solution that makes everyone happy. The good news is Kansas has detailed laws that explain the rights and responsibilities of property owners. A quick review of Kansas' property line and fence laws may help resolve your real estate issue.
Quick Look: Kansas Property Line and Fence Laws
This chart highlights some of the Kansas state laws relevant to property line and fence disputes. Remember, your dispute may be governed by county, city, or home owner association rules that are not listed here.
|Nuisance Law||In Kansas, a private nuisance claim requires:
|Local Fence Regulations|
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.
Kansas Fence Law Basics
Kansas has a series of detailed laws governing fence construction and maintenance in rural areas. First, a fence dividing two properties is known as a partition fence. In general, the owners of adjoining lands are required to build and maintain all partition fences in equal shares, unless the parties agree otherwise.
Kansas law does not force fence ownership. If a non-livestock owner does not want their land enclosed, they cannot be forced to build or pay for an equal share of any partition fence. State law describes a legal fence as one built with barbed wire, but it recognizes that other types of fencing material may be approved by local governments.
Using the Doctrine of Practical Location
The doctrine of practical location is a method of settling boundary disputes that is recognized by Kansas courts. When both neighbors know that a fence is not on the boundary but they are not certain where the actual boundary is located, it may become the "legal" boundary after 15 years of using it as a boundary marker.
A landowner can establish a boundary by practical location in three ways:
Using Fence Viewers to Resolve Disputes
Some disputes cannot be resolved by the property owners themselves. In these situations, you should involve your county "fence viewer" as soon as possible. Most people have never heard of a fence viewer until a problem occurs. Under Kansas law, fence viewers are the board of county commissioners, or persons appointed by them.
A landowner may apply to the fence viewers to resolve their disagreement. The fence viewers will examine the fence and provide a written decision of each neighbor's obligation to build, maintain, or repair the fence. This decision is recorded at the Register of Deeds office in the county where the fence is located. This decision is final, cannot be appealed, and will control the neighbors and all succeeding occupants of the land.
Local Ordinances and Zoning Rules Effecting Fences
Although Kansas has a series of laws that express the rights and responsibilities of fence owners, many of these rules only apply to agricultural land or property located outside of incorporated towns and cities. Local ordinances set by cities and counties, and sometimes subdivision rules called Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), also regulate fencing.
Some local height restrictions contained in fencing laws apply to natural fences made of bushes or trees. The placement of a row of trees or bushes that border a property will usually meet the definition of a fence. These local rules typically restrict the height of "artificial" fences in residential areas to four feet in front yards, and six feet in backyards.
Trees Along Property Lines
A well-maintained tree can add value to your land. However, trees located near a shared property line are a frequent source of conflict between neighbors. In Kansas, a landowner has a right to trim branches that overhang their property even though the trunk of the tree is on a neighbor's land. The landowner may not go on the neighbor's land to remove the tree or any part thereof without permission.
If the tree is a nuisance, the landowner may compel the neighbor to remove the nuisance or, if an injury occurs, look to the neighbor to pay any damages allowable by law. In Kansas, a tree is a nuisance if the "overhanging branches do substantial harm or the overhanging branches create an imminent danger."
Get A Free Initial Legal Evaluation of Your Kansas Property Dispute
Don't let a property line dispute keep you from enjoying your home. If you've been unable to resolve an issue on your own, it may be time to seek help from a local real estate attorney. Disputes over legal title, boundaries, easements and adverse possession can be complex and difficult to take on without legal help. Find out how Kansas law applies to your facts by contacting an experienced real estate attorney today for a free initial legal evaluation of your property issue.
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