Property Line and Fence Laws in New Hampshire
When winter storms hit New England, the winds can damage trees and fences. When it's time to clean up and put your property back together, conflicts can arise over how to share the costs with your neighbors. Fortunately, New Hampshire has detailed property line and fence laws that can help resolve many common neighbor disputes.
Quick Look: New Hampshire Property Line and Fence Laws
This chart highlights some of New Hampshire's state laws relevant to property line and fence disputes. Your dispute also may be governed by county, city, or home owner association rules that are not listed here.
|Boundary by Acquiescence||In New Hampshire, Boundary by Acquiescence is shown by proving:
|Local Fence Regulations|
Note: Laws are subject to change. It is important to verify the information you read about by conducting your own research or consulting with a local attorney.
New Hampshire Fence Law Basics
When a neighbor is interfering with your property rights, you need to take immediate action -- even when it's as simple as planting a tree over the property line. This act is known as "encroachment" and it's a form of trespassing. Under New Hampshire law, private land owners have the right to enforce their property rights in court or through private agreements.
A fence dividing two properties is called a division fence. Neighbors in New Hampshire are required to share the cost of maintaining this shared fence. If one neighbor refuses to contribute, the other neighbor can make repairs and seek damages from their non-paying neighbor.
Local Ordinances and Zoning Rules Effecting Fences
New Hampshire fence and property line law is composed of state statutes, court-made common law, building codes, and local zoning ordinances. When you're trying to resolve a dispute with a neighbor it's important to determine which rules are controlling.
For example, your neighbor may purposefully build a tall fence to block your view. The fence is built to code with all the proper permits. It may seem that you have no rights. However, if you can show that your neighbor acted maliciously you may be able to have the fence declared a common-law nuisance. The court can then require the modification or removal of the fence.
Using "Boundary by Acquiescence" to Enforce a Historic Boundary Line
In New Hampshire, boundary by acquiescence is a court-made rule that recognizes long-standing markers traditionally recognized by property owner's as their boundary, even when a survey places it elsewhere. This means that if a row of trees was thought to be the property line, but is later determined to extend 10 feet beyond those trees, the court may enforce the historic line used by both parties.
Boundary by Acquiescence requires proof of the following facts:
- The parties are adjoining land owners;
- who have occupied their respective lots up to a certain boundary;
- and have recognized the boundary as the true boundary separating their lots;
- for more than 20 years.
Trees Along Property Lines
Is your neighbor's paper birch tree making you mad by dropping big piles of leaves in your yard? Are the roots pushing up your fence? New Hampshire law allows you to prune back a neighbor's tree to the property line at your own expense. However, there are a few things to consider before you get out the chain saw:
- If you seriously injure or kill the tree, you can be held liable for damages, no less than three or more than 10 times the market value of the tree.
- Landowners generally have a right to grow, maintain or cut down their trees as they see fit.
- A landowner who fails to reasonably maintain their tree is liable for injuries resulting from the lack of maintenance.
Using Fence Viewers for Dispute Resolution
Taking a neighbor to court is not the only option for resolving a property dispute. New Hampshire rules provide for fence viewers to act as impartial mediators. Fence Viewers Committees have existed for more than 150 years across New England. Their job is to settle disputes caused when livestock strays across a property line, a fence is illegally altered, or a neighbor is not maintaining their portion of a shared fence.
To get started, contact your county's fence viewer committee to see if your dispute is of a nature that they can resolve. A viewer will come to the property and make a finding that is registered in the town records.
Get a Free Evaluation of Your Property Issue from a Real Estate Attorney
Property line dispute are complex legal matters. It's not uncommon for a disagreement to become very personal, making it even more difficult for property owners to find a resolution on their own. Fortunately, help is available if you're struggling with a property line dispute. An experienced real estate attorney can negotiate on your behalf or file a claim in court if necessary. Take a positive step in resolving your property line dispute and learn more about how New Hampshire law applies to your facts by contacting a local attorney today for a free initial evaluation of your case.
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