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Neighbor Law

A guide discussing issues that may arise between neighbors on topics such as fencing, trees and noise.

Fences & Boundaries


Fences

A common dispute among neighbors is who owns, as well as who is responsible for maintaining the fence between their properties. Texas does not have a specific state law that addresses boundary line fences. Cities or property owner associations will often try to regulate things such as fence height but for disputes involving ownership or maintenance, those will often need to be settled in court if the neighbors cannot come to an agreement on their own. 

Below you will find references to areas of Texas law related to fences. If you find these statutes difficult to understand, please see the Understanding the Law resources below for a "plain English" explanation of these laws.

Texas Law

Fencing may also be regulated by Texas municipalities. Be sure to also check your local code of ordinances to see if any additional laws exist. See our Municipal Laws and Ordinances page for assistance locating your local laws.

Understanding the Law

Boundary Lines

Boundary line disputes may arise between adjoining neighbors for a variety of reasons. See the resources below for more information on how to resolve these types of disputes.

Fencing for Livestock

Under common law, Texas is an "open range" state, meaning that a livestock owner does not have a legal duty to prevent animals from getting onto the roadway. Since 1876, however, the Texas Legislature has allowed Texas counties to vote on whether to become "closed range". State law also mandates that all State and US Highways are closed range. See the resources below as well as our Livestock guide for more information

Adverse Possession

While rare, adverse possession is a legal concept that allows a trespasser – sometimes a stranger but more often a neighbor – to gain legal title over the land of a property owner. Texas law places the burden of proof to establish a claim of adverse possession on the trespasser. Whoever holds legal title is presumed to be the owner unless and until the adverse possessor can meet that burden. See the resources below for more information.

Check out our Abandoned Property research guide for more on adverse possession. 

E-books at the Texas State Law Library

You can borrow the e-books below with your library account. Don't have a library account? Texas residents can register for a library account online! Learn more about how to register online.