Tennessee Laws About Fences & Property Lines

Home and garden with white picket fence
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Cities and counties in the state of Tennessee have established a number of zoning laws, some of which regulate the height of fences and the materials you can use to construct them. In addition, some specific laws address where you can place fences on property lines and what you can do if a neighbor disputes a fence on a boundary line.

Tennessee Laws About Fences

A fence is defined as an open barrier or screen. Such open barriers or screens do not include some barriers that protect vegetation and construction sites. Fences must be free of barbed, electrical, razor wire and other hazardous material. A permit is not required to construct a fence, but all structures must be in compliance with zoning regulations. In general, a fence that is placed between two properties belongs to both property owners. Individuals who want complete ownership of fences should place the structure at least 4 feet away from the property line.

Height Restrictions

Artificial or constructed backyard fences may not exceed 6 feet in height, while front yard fences may not surpass 4 feet. Artificial fences are typically made of plastic, and are sold at local hardware stores. Natural fences, typically constructed of wood, sometimes have height restrictions of 5 to 8 feet. Such restrictions, however, should be listed in city or county zoning rules. Fences close to roads must be 5 feet away from the street and should not pose safety hazards to commuters.

Consider Zoning Laws

Owners of single and double family homes not located in historic districts may construct fences without prior approval as long as the structures comply with established dimensional regulations. Individuals living in historic districts may also construct fences, but must first receive approval from city or county zoning and planning departments. An application and blueprint may be required in such instances, and the process should take place before the fence is installed. Individuals owning commercial property adjacent to residential communities may be required to install a fence around their property.

How to Report Violations

While cities and counties do not specialize in locating fences in violation of zoning rules, residents may report structures in violation to city officials. An individual found guilty of violating zoning rules pertaining to fences may be warned of the violation and eventually fined. In some cases, the city or county deems it necessary to sue an individual or business for fence violations. Such action is probably taken when a person or corporation refuses to comply with zoning rules and the structure poses severe hazard to other residents.