The fencing market in the US was worth an estimated $8.6 billion in 2020. Moreover, experts project this sector to grow further at a compound annual growth rate of 4.9% from 2020 to 2027.
All that proves how important fences are to property owners. After all, these barriers allow households to enjoy more privacy. Moreover, they can help deter the millions of property crimes that occur in the country each year.
However, if you plan to install one on your Florida home yourself, it’s a must to know the state’s fencing laws first. From heights to locations, regulations govern these facets of fence installation.
To that end, we put together this FAQ guide on what the Sunshine State has to say about fences. Read on to discover the legal dos and don’ts of putting up a fence around your property.
Do You Need a Permit for a Fence in Florida?
Some counties and cities in the Sunshine State require a permit before a property owner can put up a fence. An example is Orlando, which requires a building permit for fence installations. Therefore, property owners must first secure the permit before doing any fence work.
In other municipalities, lot fencing permits are usually not mandatory. For example, Hillsborough County laws don’t require building or zoning permits for fences.
In places around the state where permits aren’t mandatory, exceptions still exist. An example is if the planned fence will exceed the allowable height. In this case, the property owner must apply for building or zoning permits.
There are also fencing laws in Florida that specifically deal with required fences. Pool fences are an example of required fencing systems in the state. This means that property owners must erect fences around them for safety reasons.
How High Can Fences Be in Florida?
In many Florida cities and counties, fences on the side of a residential property can be up to six feet in height. This drops to four feet for fences placed on the front building line facing the street. Most commercial properties can erect fences up to ten feet in height.
Should Fences Be Transparent?
Aside from height, there are also laws governing a fence material’s opaqueness. Opaqueness is a quality that makes a material impenetrable by light.
Some areas around Florida only allow front yard fences to be no more than 50% opaque. That’s why in many cases, these fences have spaces between the panels. The spaces, in turn, allow light to penetrate.
Some examples of opaque materials are solid brick, concrete, masonry, vinyl, and wood. These are among the most common materials used in privacy fences. For a more in-depth look at such fences, you may want to check out this complete guide.
Where Can You Put Fences on Your Florida Residential Property?
You can install fences anywhere on your property, so long as it doesn’t go beyond the boundary lines. These lines define your property’s legal boundaries, and any piece of land within it is yours. As such, it’s vital to know what your boundaries are to avoid disputes with your neighbors.
Besides, the last thing you want is to build a fence and end up encroaching on your neighbor’s property. If this happens, Florida fencing laws require you to remove the fence from that spot. You’d then have to replace it somewhere on your property, within your boundary line.
If you’re not sure what your boundaries are and neither does your neighbor, call a surveyor. Surveyors are experts specializing in taking precise measurements of a piece of land. They use high-tech devices and math to determine the location of property lines.
Your other option is to visit your local assessor’s or county recorder’s office. Ask them for help in determining your property’s boundary lines.
What About Fences on Adjoining Land?
Adjoining land refers to real estate property with common boundaries. An example is the above-mentioned boundary line. This area is the common boundary you share with your neighbor.
You can install a fence on that specific line itself, so long as your neighbor agrees. However, it’s in your best interest to put this into legal writing. You never know when you may have a dispute with your neighbor, even if you’re on good terms now.
If that happens and you don’t have a contract, you won’t have proof that your neighbor agreed to the fence.
Also, note that even if your neighbor agrees, the law doesn’t require them to chip in for fencing costs. So, they don’t have to contribute to its purchase, installation, and maintenance.
Regardless of the terms of your agreement, make sure you prepare a written contract for it. It should contain facts about the fence, the agreement terms, and the names of those involved. You then need to have this notarized in the presence of two independent witnesses.
What Do Spite Fences Mean?
Spite fences are fences built for the sole reason of spiting a neighbor. Florida prohibits all types of spite or nuisance fences. The state can regard fences as spiteful if they don’t serve any lawful purpose.
Let’s say you’re part of the 31% of Americans who know all or most of their neighbors. Then, one day, you got into a serious disagreement with them.
If your neighbor puts up a fence on the boundary line to block your view, it can be out of spite. In that case, your neighbor may have installed an illegal spite fence.
Do note that the law applies to you too; if you put up a fence after an altercation, your neighbor may say it’s out of spite.
Abide by Florida’s Fencing Laws to Avoid Legal Woes
There you have it, your ultimate guide on fencing laws in the State of Florida. Now that you know, you can install one legally and not worry about encroaching on your neighbor’s land. Just make sure that you stay within your boundary to avoid legal disputes with the folks next door.
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