One of the benefits of home ownership is the luxury of choice. You can pick the exterior color of your house, arrange landscaping, and select a fence. However, the decision you make can create tensions with your neighbor. Boundary disputes have landed more than a few Mississippi neighbors in court. From the placement of a new fence to maintenance of a tree, property disputes among neighbors can escalate quickly. Fortunately, Mississippi property line and fence law provides detailed rules that can help resolve common neighbor disputes.
Quick Look: Mississippi Property Line and Fence Laws
This chart summarizes key Mississippi laws relevant to property line and fence disputes.
|Remedies for Encroachment||When a neighbor places a structure that intrudes on (or over) your land, you can:
|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.
Mississippi Fence Law Basics
Under Mississippi law, a fence placed on a boundary line is known as a "party" fence. Despite this festive name, party fences are the subject of dozens of court cases each year. A key point of friction is that any decision about a party fence requires an agreement from both owners. If a property owner takes any unilateral actions with a party fence, he or she may could be found liable to their neighbor for monetary damages.
You Must Contribute to Maintain a Boundary Fence
A fence built along a shared property line is considered the joint property of both landowners so when maintenance is needed, equal contribution is required. In Mississippi, this rule of shared maintenance applies to long-term tenants as well as property owners.
One of the only ways to get out of this shared responsibility is to build your own fence, but you must leave a buffer of land between the fence on the adjoining land. After you inform you neighbor that you intend to construct a separate fence, you only have 60 days to start building, or the law says that you've abandoned your intention to do so. You can also terminate your interest in a party fence by giving your neighbor notice and by stopping the fence.
Cities in Mississippi Have Fence Laws, Too
The state is not the only authority with a say over your fence and trees. Each of the state's 82 counties has its own fence rules and ordinances. These local rules typically control the height, placement, and materials used to construct a fence. Plus, if you're a member of a homeowner's association, you could have even more restrictions placed on your fence. So if you're having a fence or tree dispute, be sure to review your city or subdivision's rules, too.
Trees Along Property Lines
When you own property, you have the rights to the land under your feet as well as the airspace above your land. This is why you have the right to remove a neighbor's tree branch when it grows across your land. But don't trim too much. If you trim past your property line, you could be found guilty of trespass.
Tree owners are responsible for maintaining their trees and removing dead growth. However, the neighbor most likely will not be liable for damage resulting from a large storm, since it could not have been foreseen.
Mississippi offers the following guidance when dealing with a tree dispute:
Talk to an Attorney About Your Property Line Dispute
Property disputes come in all shapes and sizes. No matter the nature of your dispute, finding a resolution that works for you and your neighbor can be a challenge. If you're unable to reach an agreement, it may be time to speak with a Mississippi real estate attorney.
Contact a qualified attorney.