If you're thinking about building a fence in Baltimore, Maryland, step one is researching your local fence construction regulations. In most cities across the United States, fence construction is regulated at the state, county or city level. In Maryland, fence laws exist at the local level meaning different counties might have different fencing laws or requirements.
Most of Baltimore does not belong to any county - fun fact! It is an independent city that broke away from Baltimore County in 1851. Legally, it is considered on par with county jurisdictions in Maryland. So for fence permits Baltimore City has its own set of local laws and ordinances to regulate fence or property line disputes.
Those regulations along with the permit application process can be found on the city's Department of Housing and Community Development website. In Baltimore, like most cities in Maryland, a permit is required to construct a new fence.
Now, just to make things complicated, Baltimore City is bordered by Baltimore County, Howard County and Anne Arundel County and these counties encompass some of the Baltimore City metropolitan area. So if your property happens to be located in those counties, be sure to check out your county websites to see if they have different fence regulations and then complete your fence permit applications there.
Baltimore fence laws don't include any ordinances regulating what materials you can and cannot use for your fence. Wood fences, or fences made out of chain link, and vinyl are commonly used in fences and usually not restricted. In some places, though, cities make it illegal to build a fence out of some types of materials. Examples include materials not meant for fence construction. Other types of materials could be restricted include barbed wire, razor wire or electrified fences.
As always, you should check in with your home owners association, or HOA, to make sure there aren't prohibited fence materials in your neighborhood.
If you are working with a reputable fencing company, they will help you better understand any rules that apply to your fence installation project and whether or not you need to apply for a building permit. Below are a few examples of laws you need to be aware of for your fence project in Baltimore, Maryland.
In this section we will delve into the specific regulations and considerations regarding fence heights within three distinct areas of your property: Front Yard, Side Yard, and Back Yard.
Most cities have zoning laws that require front yard fences to be less than four feet tall. Baltimore is no exception. The maximum height allowed for a front yard fence in Baltimore is 3.5 feet. Keep in mind that even if you get approval from the city, if you live in an HOA they might not allow front yard fences. That's because the HOA makes its own rules for properties in the development that owners agree to when buying a home there.
Side yard fences around your property in Baltimore City have a height restriction of six feet.
In your back yard, you can build fences as high as six feet. This is the standard height for a back yard fence in most cities. In some cases, you can talk to the office in charge of permitting and see if there is a special permit available to build a taller fence and whether you would qualify for that permit.
Maryland employs common fence laws on the state level, holding both property owners responsible for shared fences situated along their boundaries. However, a homeowner cannot force their neighbor to agree to contribute to building a fence, even if it is constructed on the property line.
But if both neighbors agree to the fence, then both are equally responsible for maintenance and repair. When considering privacy fence ideas, it's essential to keep these legal aspects in mind to ensure a smooth installation process.
In Baltimore, you need a permit before you can begin construction on a fence. You'll apply for a permit from the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development. Getting a permit means that your work and the site plan will be reviewed by a City inspector and they will verify that it complies with the City's building code.
Permits can actually protect the value of your home because they serve as proof to future buyers that any construction, like a fence for example, was done safely and correctly. If you don't get a permit when you are legally required to, you could be subject to fines and other penalties.
In Baltimore City, you can apply for your fence permit online. Just create an account, pay online, and if the permit is approved it will be issued online as well.
In Maryland law, there is a specific ban on building spite fences. Spite fences are built by one neighbor to annoy the other neighbor. In some cases, spite fences are constructed to lower the property value of the next door neighbor. It's important to understand the difference between a good neighbor fence, which fosters cooperation and mutual agreement, and a spite fence, which may lead to legal issues and disputes.
Another consideration you'd expect is special permits for fences built in floodplains. While Baltimore City is subject to the threat of flooding, the city doesn't have specific permit requirements for fences constructed on 100-year floodplains the way that other cities do, like Houston for example.
As explained at the beginning of this post, most of Baltimore is not in a specific county, and the larger metropolitan area includes homes in neighboring counties. Baltimore County does have a special regulation for fences built on floodplains. One example is that all fences - regardless of height - need a permit if they are going to be built on a 100-year floodplain. Baltimore County also requires a permit for any fence planned in a historic district.
In Howard County, there are specific rules for fences in front yards when the property is a corner lot. In that case, homeowners must make sure that any fence in the triangle formed by straight lines joining points 25 feet back from the point where the roads intersect. Those are known as clear vision areas and many cities regulate fence height to keep drivers safe.
Anne Arundel County, to the south of Baltimore, defines a fence as a residential accessory structure and as such requires a permit. You can look on the county website for how to complete the application process which can take place online, in person or by mail.
Some fence laws have more to do with safety than appearance - and one of the most common of these governs pool fences. Do you have an in-ground swimming pool in your back yard? In Maryland, fences around in-ground pools have to be at least 4 feet tall with a self-closing, and self-latching, gate.
Another safety law in Maryland requires you to call 811 at least two business days before starting your fence project. This is a free service that's important for homeowners to use because every property has underground lines for things like water and gas.
Hitting one of these lines could cause major property damage if not serious injury. Contacting 811 first will help prevent you and your family from harm, prevent utility services interruptions and avoid costly damage.
Besides the issue of underground lines, replacing a current fence or constructing a new fence on your own without experience is not advisable for safety reasons. Building fences requires the use of things like nail guns, dealing with fence panels falling over, and the difficult and potentially dangerous job of removing fence posts.
Before starting your fence project, make sure to check out Baltimore City's website for fence construction permit information. Also contact your HOA if you have one. Each city can have different regulations, and every HOA has the potential to have their own specific rules about fences. You'll need to be familiar with these to find out if the fence you want to build is allowed, or requires a permit or special review.
And remember, check out your local ordinances in Baltimore County, Howard County or Anne Arundel County if your home is located in any of those, because they could be slightly different.
Check out Ergeon's Baltimore page for more information on popular packages in the area and local reviews!