Property Line and Fence Laws in Vermont

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

While it seems like clear boundary fences between neighbors would reduce conflict, fences sometimes have the opposite effect. It's extremely common for neighbors to disagree about the height or placement of a fence, or the motivation behind building it. For this reason, many states have passed laws governing issues like boundary fences and trimming encroaching tree branches. Read on to learn more about fence laws in Vermont.

Vermont Property Line and Fence Laws

Like many other states, Vermont has passed laws governing boundary fences and "spite fences." Vermont law dictates the definition of a "sufficient fence" and sets forth rules about who pays for the construction and maintenance of boundary fences. Vermont also has a statute specifically prohibiting "spite fences," which it defines as any structure built to annoy your neighbor, obstruct their view, or block their light or air. That being said, the Vermont law regarding spite fences is not particularly strong, as fines for building a "spite fence" are capped at $100.

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

Statutes

Boundary Fences

  • A "sufficient fence" as defined by Vermont law is 4.5 feet tall, in good repair, and "so constructed as to prevent the escape of sheep."
  • Owners or occupants of adjoining lands must make and maintain equal portions of the division fence between their lands.
  • If a dividing line between properties can't be determined or agreed upon by neighbors, either party can apply to the fence viewer to resolve the dispute.

Spite Fences

  • It's illegal for a Vermont resident to erect an "unnecessary fence" or other structure for the purpose of annoying a neighbor, obstructing their view, or denying them light or air.
  • A person who violates this statute can't be fined in excess of $100.

Tree Trimming

  • In Vermont, each city has a "tree warden" that oversees the removal of public trees.
  • Regarding trees on private property, typically landowners have the right to "self help" by trimming encroaching tree branches up to the property line.
  • In Vermont, it's considered civil trespass for a person to destroy and timber growing on the land of another person.

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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