Looking to repair or replace your fence in North Texas? There are some basics you should know when it comes to the related laws and regulations. We’ve compiled some of the most important information to consider before starting your fence project.
They say good fences make good neighbors- and it’s true! It can sometimes be unclear who owns (and therefore is responsible for maintaining) a fence that is shared between properties. Boundary line fences are not specifically addressed by current Texas law. Given that, it’s advisable to make sure you know your property lines before removing any old fences or constructing new ones. Many times the City has the Assessor's Parcel Number (APN) and can look up where the property lines run. If the property has not been assessed, it is highly advisable to hire a land surveyor.
Once you know the lines of your property, you can proceed with your plans to remove or build a fence within the areas solely under your ownership. You can also then determine if any fence lines are shared with a neighbor. For shared fence lines, we recommend you get in contact with your neighbor to discuss the best approach for fence style and any possible cost sharing.
While different cities and homeowner’s associations can establish their own regulations within city guidelines, disputes over shared fence lines that cannot be settled between neighbors will actually fall to the jurisdiction of the courts. It’s best to just take a friendly approach with your neighbors before embarking on a fence project.
Regulations and requirements surrounding fence permitting will vary from city to city and between residential and nonresidential areas. Special fences, like those built in neighborhoods designated as ‘historic’ or around pools will also have a separate set of regulations associated with them. For that reason, it’s always advisable to utilize a professional contractor, as reputable contractors will be familiar with the specifications in a given area.
Here are some high level regulations to keep in mind for some of the larger cities in North Texas. For a full list of cities in North Texas and their unique fence regulations, refer to the Municipal Laws and Ordinances page of the Texas State Law Library.
The city of Fort Worth makes a distinction between solid and open fences. Solid fences include traditional dog ear style or picture frame styles, whereas open designed fences include the picket style with gaps or spacing in between each picket so you can see through. You don’t need a permit for backyard fences less than six feet tall or eight feet tall in an open fence style. Similarly, you can build an open design front yard fence that’s up to four feet tall without a permit. Fort Worth also prohibits chain link fences in the front yard.
In the city of Dallas, you do not need a permit to build a fence unless it’s taller than four feet in the front yard and six feet in the backyard. The regulations specify that no fence panel having less than 50% open surface area can be located less than five feet from the the front of the property line, making the open vs. solid fence distinction similar to that of Fort Worth.
The city of Arlington does require a permit for most fence types. City code specifies that fences in residential front yards must be no taller than four feet and be at least 75% transparent. Chain link is not permitted, unless you’re replacing an existing chain link fence. Additionally, the city has very stringent rules against poorly maintained or damaged fences. For example, you can be cited if the fence on your property has more than 20 % damage to any eight-foot section, or is leaning more than 15 degrees.
In Grand Prairie, all fence projects including repairs to existing fences require a permit. The City of Grand Prairie requires fences to be in good shape and free from blight or deterioration and has a detailed code about fences in the city.
In the city of Irving, the max height for front yard fences is four feet with a required minimum of 50% transparency. All fence materials must be approved for exterior use and able to resist weather and decay. Irving also requires fence contractors to register when building a fence and pay a $125 permit fee.
In the city of University Park, there can be no fences in the front yard past the wall of the main structure. You must obtain a fence permit before erecting, moving, repairing or replacing more than 25% of any one side of a fence. Additionally, the Community Development Department must inspect all fences and retaining walls upon completion. Similarly, the town of Highland Park requires permits and inspections for all fencing projects.
Safety is key. Every property has underground lines for things like water, gas, etc. Hitting a line can cause major damage to your property and even serious injury. Texas811 is a free service offered across the state that homeowners can utilize before doing any digging. Texas law requires homeowners to contact 811 at least two business days before digging. Reputable contractors will have familiarity with this process, which is another reason that it’s smart to hire a professional for your fence.