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Most people who own their own home are looking for privacy. A fence is therefore often part of it. But are you allowed to build it on the property line? What does the law say and what rights does the neighbor have?
In a nutshell
- Admissibility depends on public and private areas of law
- Ask the district office to find out about all public law issues relating to your fence project
- Talk to neighbors before building a fence to avoid arguments afterwards
- Fences are permitted anywhere unless this right is specifically restricted
Areas of Law Affected
Unfortunately, the question of the fence on the property line cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. Depending on the local circumstances, very different legal areas can be affected and have to answer the question:
- building planning law
- Building Code Law
- conservation law
- neighbor right
If you now look at the individual subject areas, you should urgently differentiate between two areas: public law and private law
The public areas of law include building law and nature conservation law. “Public” means that these topics are binding on you, regardless of what your neighbor says about them, for example.
building planning law
In general, there is no provision of building planning law that prohibits the erection of a fence on the property line. In most federal states, this measure is even permitted without any form of building permit.
Building Code Law
As an appendix to a development plan, however, a municipality can issue design stipulations that regulate and limit the construction of a fence system. For example, information about:
- Necessary border distance
- A maximum height
- Materials to be used
- Local bans on fences for design reasons or e.g. traffic reasons (view at intersections)
In fact, nature conservation law does not regulate the development of private residential property. An exception occurs, however, if your property is on the outskirts. Then nature conservation law can prohibit a fence to the outside in the direction of the great outdoors. Whether this is the case depends heavily on the individual framework conditions of your property.
Tip: The lower building law authorities, usually the respective district offices, are responsible for all of the public law issues mentioned. Before you get lost in the multitude of possible regulations, you should ask exactly there with your specific request whether there is anything against erecting your fence in the desired position, size and material.
In contrast, private law in the form of neighboring law is of a completely different nature. This is about law between two private parties, i.e. usually between you and the neighbor on the other side of the fence. The decisive factor is that the neighbor's law only applies if one of the two parties demands it. For the question about the fence on the property line, this means:
If your neighbor demands compliance with the neighbors' law, the requirements of the neighbors' law for fences on the border apply in the same way as building law and nature conservation law do anyway. According to neighbor law, the following applies to fences:
- generally permitted immediately on the border
- Height restriction up to 1.50 meters
- For each exceeding of the 1.50 meter required limit distance in the same dimension
- 1.20 meters height allowed on the border
- 1.50 meters height allowed on the border
- 1.80 meters in height must keep a 0.30 meter (exceeding the 1.50 meter limit) limit distance
Tip: Ask your neighbors before you start erecting the fence. In most cases, any objections can be cleared up quite easily and completely eliminated with small changes to your fence.
frequently asked QuestionsThe development plan speaks of "green fences". What do you mean with that?
Again and again, planners do not want classic fences in residential areas. The term “green fences”, for example, allows wire mesh, which must be greened with shrubs and perennials. From a distance, it is primarily the plants that appear and not the fence system itself.The resident of the neighboring property first agreed to the fence system and after the erection now demands the reduction to the specifications of the neighboring law. What am I doing?
An agreement that has been made applies in principle. However, proof is difficult here. You are safe if you record your agreement in writing so that you can refer to it at any time.Do the same requirements apply to my garden property as to my house?
Building law and neighbor law initially regulate fences within built-up areas. Outside, for example in orchards, garden plots, etc., there is generally an absolute ban on fences under the nature conservation law. Exceptions are possible. However, you must coordinate this directly with the nature conservation office.