Who Legally Owns A Fence Between 2 Houses In Iowa?
You want to make the property boundary clear with your neighbor but if the fence is on the property line, whose is it?
Not everyone gets along just peachy with their neighbors, either in the country or in the cul-de-sac. In fact, you might be thinking of one now that just absolutely works your nerve. When I was growing up, my dad built the shared fence that split our backyard from our neighbors but luckily, there was never any drama over who needed to fix any part of it. I think I remember just one time Dad needed to realign one of the boards but other than that it totally fine.
Illinois has really specific laws on who should deal with a shared property fence (you could take your neighbor to court for that in Illinois, if you felt petty enough). Iowa has it's own set of laws on fences.
Iowa's Boundary Fence Laws
According to FindLaw.com, in Iowa, if there are two adjoining landowners and one makes a written request for a boundary fence, it has to go up. Iowa State University says, like with Illinois, the cost of maintaining the fence is split between the property owners.
Also, if it's a boundary fence made of hedge, there are even guidelines on how that needs to be maintained. Specifically:
Boundary fences made from hedge must be trimmed back twice per year, once in June and once in September, to within 5 feet of the ground (unless neighbors agree otherwise)
Like with Illinois, if one neighbor starts getting sassy about the fence, a "fence viewer" can be called in for a hearing on the issue.
In Iowa, it's really kind of a confusing thing as to where the partition fence goes and who can remove it. Iowa State University says it like this:
A person building the partition fence may lay it upon the line between the person and the adjacent owners and has the right to remove it as if it were wholly on his own land. This means that an adjacent landowner won’t be trespassing if entitled to remove the fence. It does not mean that he has the right to remove a partition fence without permission. Even if the partition fence stands wholly upon one side of the division line, the provisions of partition fences apply.
Iowa's "Lawful Fence"
Here's where the detail gets intense. Iowa law defines a "lawful fence" with these specific factors:
- "Three rails of good substantial material fastened in or to good substantial posts not more than ten feet apart"
- "Three boards not less than six inches wide and three-quarters of an inch thick, fastened in or to good substantial posts not more than eight feet apart."
The most specific barbed wire rule I've ever seen:
- "Three wires, barbed with not less than thirty-six iron barbs of two points each, or twenty-six iron barbs of four points each, on each rod of wire, or of four wires, two thus barbed and two smooth, the wires to be firmly fastened to posts not more than two rods apart, with not less than two stays between posts, or with posts not more than one rod apart without such stays, the top wire to be not more than fifty-four nor less than forty-eight inches in height."
- four parallel, coated steel, smooth high-tensile wire
Hopefully you never have to get sassy with a neighbor about a fence but here's Iowa fence law for reference if you do.