Anyone who is informed about the legal circumstances surrounding the garden fence can avoid unnecessary disputes with their neighbors.© DoraZett - Fotolia.com
Neighborhood can be harmonious and sociable. Quite often an argument is literally broken off the fence. Who does not remember the famous Knallerbsenstrauch, to which Stefan Raab even dedicated a song. The garden fence becomes a point of contention because nobody is really informed about the rules regarding jurisdiction. Which neighbor has to actually build a fence where and do garden owners have to build a fence at all? Below we would like to shed some light on the dark and pave the way for you to work together in harmony.
Dispute object garden fence
Every year, judges in Germany have to make around 300,000 judgments dealing with neighborhood disputes. Objects in dispute are noisy garden equipment, piles of leaves, music noises, branches and bushes or the garden fence itself. In order for the garden to remain what it is supposed to be, an oasis of calm and relaxation, you should inform yourself on site about the laws of the individual federal states, because here there are some differences.
What is "local custom"?
The customary locality determines how high fences may be erected. Take a look around in your residential area or in your garden. If fences and hedges predominate there about one meter high, it is not customary for the location if you are thinking about building a two meter high fence. If the enclosures are of different heights, the customary location cannot be determined at first glance. Then the neighboring law laws of the individual federal states take effect.
Some examples of the customary location of enclosures: Berlin, Brandenburg
Hesse, Lower Saxony, Saarland
Saxony-Anhalt 1.25 meter high chain link fence
1.20 meter high chain link fence
fence two meters high
Fence is not just a fence
However, the term garden fence should not be taken so precisely here. It only serves as a synonym for the delimitation of two properties. In fact, there are several ways to delimit a property:
EnclosureThe property is delimited from the outside with a fence. This is done as a protective measure against prying eyes, before people and animals enter the property and as protection against the sun, wind or noise pollution.
Dead fenceFor this, garden walls or garden fences made of wood, stone or wire mesh are counted. These are structures that may have to be approved under building law.
Living enclosureGarden hedges are referred to as living enclosures. The distances for hedging planting specified in neighboring law must be observed. Hedge planting directly on the property boundary requires neighborhood approval. In this special case, the garden hedge becomes a border system.
Border facilitiesBorder systems are both dead and living enclosures that are located on the immediate property boundary. Constructional changes or the removal of the fencing require the consent of the neighbor.
Retaining wallsSlope plots are often secured by retaining walls. For retaining walls, regulations differing from the fencing apply, which can be found in the respective building regulations of the federal states.
Privacy fencesPrivacy screens do not differ in their function from fencing. A privacy fence can consist of a wide variety of materials. High privacy fences become structures and require approval.
A look at the Civil Code© Zerbor - Fotolia.com
If you want to consult the Civil Code to find out about the garden fence dispute, you won't find it. There are no regulations on the subject of fencing. However, there you can read: “The owner can deal with the matter as he likes.” A plot of land can therefore be fenced in, but does not have to.
" Tip: In § 921 and §922 BGB the fence on the property boundary is dealt with.
The individual federal states have made additional regulations regarding fencing in their neighboring law.
Only in the following federal states are there no corresponding regulations:
Who is responsible for the garden fence?
This question cannot be answered in one sentence. The federal states have found two different approaches to determine responsibility on the fence. This is referred to as a common enclosure and a legal enclosure.
The common fencing engages in:
- North Rhine-Westphalia
The legal enclosure is law in:
- Lower Saxony
This law states that a property owner, at the request of his neighbor, must fence in the right-hand property boundary as seen from the street. The legal fence was taken over from the Prussian General Land Law and is intended to enable an even distribution of costs and maintenance between the individual parties.
Enclosure is a private matter© auremar - Fotolia.com
Only when the neighbor wants the fence to be built does the legal obligation to fence in. If the fence construction is requested, the neighbor can also announce this verbally.
" Tip: In order to avoid quarrels at the fence, it is advisable to write down the request for fence in writing and to have it signed by the neighbor.
A fencing obligation to protect the neighbor applies in:
- outdoors also in Baden-Württemberg
A customary general fencing obligation is:
Built-up or commercially used land in urban areas must be fenced in:
- Lower Saxony
- North Rhine-Westphalia
There is no fencing obligation in the following countries:
- Baden-Württemberg in the city
The most important questions answered briefly© AA + W - Fotolia.com
Do I have to build a fence at all?
Every citizen has the right to erect a fence to demarcate his property and protect it from unauthorized entry (BGB § 903). You are only obliged to build a fence if the neighbor insists on clearly separating the plots from each other. Most federal states have made individual regulations in this regard in building and neighborhood law.
Which side of the fence am I responsible for?
Property owners have to ensure a delimitation to the right of the main entrance. No regulations apply if the main entrances to the neighboring properties are on different street fronts. The boundaries at the back entrance are also not subject to the legal obligation. Here the neighbors should agree on a regulation.
How high can my fence be built?
Here you should inform yourself beforehand about the dimensions of the enclosures, which are determined by the individual federal states as customary for the location. Usually heights of up to 1.25 meters are considered acceptable. High walls and fences shade the neighbor's property. The latter does not have to accept this and can request the removal of the fence.
How can you tell which side of the fence it is?
The fence was already there and you are not sure whether you are responsible for it, look on which side there are columns, bricks, slats or stones. This usually marks ownership.
Uninvited guests - trespassing yes or no?
If a property is provided with a fence, anyone who passes this demarcation against the will of the owner commits trespassing (§ 123 StGB). The property boundary must be made clear. It is irrelevant whether it is a meter-high fence or just a low stone wall or hedge.
The most popular arguments on the fence© stephm2506 - Fotolia.com
In summer, smoke and stench on the garden fence quickly become a topic of controversy. Barbecue evenings in summer should not be overdone. Some judges consider five barbecues per season to be acceptable. In Brandenburg grilling is only allowed if the smoke cannot penetrate the windows of the neighboring properties.
" Tip: Invite your neighbors to grill in the garden more often, then they will hardly complain.
Nobody can object to kitchen smells. You do not have to tolerate the stinking compost heap if it is located directly on the garden fence.
❖ Plants that grow over your head
Nothing stands in the way of garden design at your own discretion. There may be certain restrictions in allotments. These can be found in the respective statutes. Plant trees and shrubs, it is worth taking a look at the regulations of the federal states. There are certain distances to the neighboring garden.
" Tip: Two-meter-high hedges must be planted at least 50 centimeters from the neighboring garden.
Branches that grow over the garden fence and root extensions that clear their way can be dealt with (§ 910 BGB). The owner is obliged to cut back the trees and cut the roots. However, only outside the garden season, more precisely between October and February.
" Tip: Fruit can be collected when the branches hang over the fence.
❖ Let's Party
There is nothing wrong with a garden party; after all, partying, like gardening itself, is part of the gardening season. However, the party-goers have to make room noise from 10 p.m. This means moving the party indoors or significantly reducing music and conversations. Otherwise, the neighbors have the right to call the police on the scene. You then face a fine for disturbing the night's rest.
❖ rest periods
Already in 2002 a regulation came into force, which restricts the use of garden tools. Hedge trimmers must not be operated on Sundays and public holidays and must be switched off after 8 p.m. on working days. Leaf blowers may only be switched on between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The municipalities and allotment garden associations have often made their own regulations regarding the midday rest.
The animals should be kept in such a way that no neighbors feel disturbed by noises or smells. Strict rules apply to dog owners; one court limited the barking of the four-legged friend to half an hour a day. Noise compensation money was even due for croaking a frog in the garden pond. Cats have to be tolerated. If there are more than two animals that are permanently in their own garden, the construction of a fence may be required.