Property Line and Fence Laws in West Virginia

If you're a property owner, you know first-hand that disagreements with neighbors sometimes arise. Frequently, these disagreements are related to property lines, fences, and trees near the boundary line. For this reason, many states have passed laws to help property owners resolve conflicts. Read on to learn more about fence laws in West Virginia.

West Virginia Property Line, Fence, and Tree Trimming Laws

Boundary fences, referred to as "partition fences" by the West Virginia Code divide one parcel of property from another. In West Virginia, the laws governing partition fences don't apply to all landowners, only those who live in agricultural areas. Some states also have "spite fence" laws which prohibit maliciously building a fence for no other purpose than to annoy or harass a neighbor. At the state level, West Virginia doesn't have laws addressing "spite fences;" however, many local jurisdictions have ordinances limiting the height and placement of fences.

Many states also choose to regulate tree trimming, and give landowners the right to "self help" by trimming encroaching tree branches up to the property line. West Virginia doesn't have state laws specifically regulating boundary tree trimming. However, it's illegal under West Virginia law to enter the land of another in order to break, cut, or carry away trees or timber.

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

Statutes

Boundary Fences: West Virginia Code Sections 19-17-1, 19-17-4, 19-17-5, 19-17-7, 19-17-8, and 19-17-9

Spite Fences: Local West Virginia ordinances

Tree Trimming: West Virginia Code Section 61-3-48

Boundary Fences

  • Partition fences must be "lawful" as defined by West Virginia Code, unless the adjoining landowners agree in writing to build a fence of different specifications.
  • Adjoining landowners in agricultural areas bear "a just proportion" of the cost of constructing, repairing, and maintaining a partition fence between the two pieces of property.
  • Any owner intending to build or repair a partition fence must give written notice to the other landowner, who has 10 days to object.
  • Disputes regarding partition fences can be resolved through civil suit in the magistrate or circuit court that has jurisdiction.
  • A landowner who refuses to keep a partition fence in good repair may be liable for damages.

Spite Fences

  • West Virginia doesn't have laws at the state level prohibiting "spite fences."
  • Cities and counties in West Virginia have building ordinances that govern how high a fence can be, and how far fences can be from property lines.

Tree Trimming

  • West Virginia doesn't have laws specifically governing trimming trees on a property line.
  • It's illegal in West Virginia to enter the land of another in order to break, cut, or carry away trees or timber.

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

Speak with a Lawyer About Your Property Dispute

Disagreements between neighbors can be frustrating. If you have a problem related to property lines, boundary fences, or encroaching tree branches, understanding how the law applies to you is a great first step. Also, depending on your circumstances, you may want to consider speaking with a local real estate attorney to understand what legal remedies are available to you.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.