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The neighbors are a source of recurring joy. Especially when it comes to the common border, there is often disagreement. One of the most common questions is who owns the fence on the property line.

In a nutshell

  • Each federal state can regulate the ownership structure for fence systems on the border individually
  • Most federal states grant the residents of border fences equal ownership shares
  • The perspective of so-called “legal enclosures” is clearly specified

Location and construction obligation

Who owns an enclosure depends on two main factors. On the one hand, this is the ground on which the plant is located. On the other hand, a possible statutory installer obligation also has an impact on the acquis.

Whose reason, its enclosure

From a very general point of view, the principle applies that a building, including a fence, belongs to the person on whose property it is built. This means that enclosures a little off the boundary line can clearly be attributed to an owner. Plants immediately above the property line therefore belong proportionally, usually in equal shares, to the two adjacent owners.

Attention: In many federal states there are specifications for height limits etc. for fences on the property line. It is therefore not always worth moving the structure slightly into your property in order to prevent the neighbor from having a say.

The Mandatory Enclosure

A special case, on the other hand, is a fencing that must be built. It can result from different areas of law and can therefore also be necessary from a wide variety of perspectives.
At present, such an obligation applies from the state-specific, legally binding law for the regulation of neighborly interests - the neighbor law:

  • Baden-Württemberg (outside only)
  • Rhineland-Palatinate
  • Saarland
  • Saxony-Anhalt
  • Thuringia

Other areas of law that require a regulation of the separation between right and left or steer it in predetermined directions are the so-called development plans. However, they are not a universal law, but only cover individual building areas. They are not legally valid at a municipal, regional or even national level.
Anyone who owns a fence structure erected directly on the property boundary is subject to the obligation to erect it in the case of this so-called enclosure request. Anyone who has to build the fence has to maintain it, but at the same time it also belongs to them.

The common enclosure

One form of clarification of ownership in legal enclosures is joint enclosure. It is used in these states:

  • Baden-Wuerttemberg
  • Hesse
  • North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Rhineland-Palatinate
  • Saarland
  • Saxony-Anhalt
  • Schleswig Holstein
  • Thuringia

The rule here is that mandatory fences on the border belong equally to the two parties involved.

The Enclosure of Law

The federal states of Berlin, Brandenburg and Lower Saxony are taking a different approach to clarifying the ownership issue. The concept of legal fencing is not - as one might mistakenly assume - about legally binding fences to be erected. Instead, right and left are actually decisive here from an optical or orientation point of view. The viewing direction is prescribed. With a view from the street to the entrance, the right owner has to build and maintain the fence. The building belongs to him.

Notice: If a building has its entrance from the back, the view for the property line fence is still from the leading road to the house.

frequently asked Questions

Do these ownership rules also apply to hedges on the border?

The construction obligations for enclosures can also include what are known as “green fences”, i.e. pure plantings or planted fence systems. In most cases, however, there is a clear differentiation in neighbor law and development plans.

Can my neighbor vote on a fence I own?

If a boundary fence belongs solely to you, your neighbor can only insist on compliance with the applicable legal regulations. All other matters can be freely determined by you. However, you are free to give your neighbor a say in the cost sharing.

Does the viewing direction in the right enclosure determine the direction of the front side?

No. The "show side" of an enclosure is merely an optical feature. The practical function of a separation or subdivision is fulfilled independently of this.

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