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Can My Neighbor Paint My Fence?

Do you want to know whether or not your neighbor is allowed to paint your fence? The answer is in this article.

Blue sky, wooden fence along sidde of street in a neighborhood, sunny day

Let’s be honest, not every next door neighbor relationship is borrowing eggs and milk. We have all had our neighborly disputes. I still remember when I caught mine pulling weeds and tossing them over his fence into my yard!

As a general rule, your neighbor is not allowed to paint the fence on your property unless you give them permission. However, if the fence is on their property, they can do whatever they want with it. When the fence has been built on the property line that separates you from your neighbor, they can paint it but only the side facing them.

Speaking of fences, have you ever gotten into a squabble over one? Who does it belong to, which way should it be facing? I definitely have! But when you’re approached by your neighbor who claims they can paint your fence whatever color they want without permission, can you stop them?

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Old man peaking through open space in a fence

Whether or not your neighbor can paint your fence all depends on where the fence is on your property. 

There are instances where neither of you can agree on whether or not the fence is on your property, theirs, or the property line that separates you. Should you get the police involved? What if it turns out to be their fence after all?

No one said that fences could be this complicated!

But after you read this article, I know you’ll be able to approach your neighbor confidently with the dos, don’ts, cans, and can’t of painting your fence!

Mans hand holding a paintbrush, painting a wooden fence a teal blue color

My Neighbor Painted My Fence Without Permission

So, your neighbor painted your fence without getting your approval. What can you do now?

The first thing to do is to be absolutely sure where on the property your fence sits. Knowing where the property line is will help you figure this out. If you don’t already know, you can contact your local county recorder’s office to get a look at maps and identify the borders of your property.

Or, if you’re looking for an easier way out, check out Ownerly.com! All you have to do is type in your address, clarify that you’re searching for your property information with one click, and then get the details emailed directly to you! Easy, right?

Once you have confirmation that the fence is on your property, you can approach your neighbor and tell them that they have to repaint the fence to the original color or remove the paint altogether. If this doesn’t work, you’ll probably have to get in touch with the authorities.

Man in red overalls. a lime green shirt and a tan colored ball cap using an electric sander, sanding a wooden fence

Such a hassle, right? Only do this if you’re really serious about it. Otherwise, you can repaint it yourself and make sure they know not to bother your fence again.

If it happens to be that the fence is on the property line, your neighbour does have the right to paint it – but only the side that faces them! If they have painted the entire fence, your side and theirs, then you can follow the steps above. Ask them to repaint, do it yourself, or involve the authorities.

The last option: you find out that the fence was built completely on your neighbor’s property and isn’t actually yours, meaning they can paint it however they want. Just in case this happens, I recommend that you play nice! Why? Because the same rules stated before can be applied in reverse. If you wish to paint your side of their fence, all you need is their permission.

Are you a renter? In this case, your neighbor painting your fence may be more problematic. Approval from the landlord is often required before any changes can be made to the property. Whoever painted your fence will have to answer to your landlord, and likely to the authorities as well!

An older man outside leaning on short fence, wearing a yellow sweater waiving at neighbor lady, green trees and white house in background

Who Can Paint My Fence?

Can just anyone come along and paint your fence? Of course not! You have to give your express permission for anyone to be allowed to paint your fence. Otherwise, it could be considered vandalism.

If the fence sits on the property line of you and your neighbor, your neighbor has the right to paint their side only. But, if the fence is on your property, only you can decide who, when, or what color!

A little boy wearing a white shirt, khaki pants and a red ball cap with his dad in jeans, a white shirt and a red ball cap, both painting a wooden pallet yellow, green grass, sun shinning

People you might give permission can be but are not limited to:

  • Contractors, or those who installed the fence.
  • Family members
  • A neighbor
  • A landlord
  • Friends
  • Any hired worker
Man in white hard hat, plaid shirt and a neon yellow reflective vest, painting a metal fence, tall green trees, cloudy sky

Anyone who paints or stains your fence without consulting with you or getting your permission can and should be held accountable!

Keep in mind that if you are on a rental property, you have to get approval from your landlord first.

Can You Legally Paint Your Side of Your Neighbor’s Fence?

You can legally paint your side of your neighbor’s fence as long as you get permission, or it sits on the property line.

To answer your question completely, everything in this article can be reversed. Because you can give your neighbor permission to paint your fence, you can be given permission by your neighbor to paint their fence. If your neighbor claims the fence separating your yards is theirs but it sits on your property, the fence is yours.

Bright green grass, red antique bike with flowers in basket leaning against a short teal picket fence, tall green trees and flowers blurred in background

You can also be held accountable for painting your neighbor’s fence without first getting their permission to do so.

This is why I recommend you to just have a quick talk with them beforehand, establish a little trust and agree on where the fence sits on the property. I know it can seem a little out of the way, especially when you’re sure who the fence belongs to, but you’re better safe than sorry (and being forced to undo your hard work!).

Another more important reason to have a chat with your neighbor, other than to gain their approval, is to make sure they aren’t renting the property from someone else! Many rental properties have restrictions, and you could get in trouble by painting their landlord’s fence!

Can I Paint My Fence Any Color I Want?

Typically, yes, you can paint your fence any color you want. Whether that means a bright, neon green or the classic, picket-fence white is completely up to you.

Well… maybe not completely.

Close up of a lime green fence

Have you ever heard of a Homeowners Association?

A Homeowners Association, or HOA, is a community built up of homeowners in your town or city district that has the power to set rules and restrictions when it comes to what you can and can’t do with your house and the property it sits on.

When you drive through a small town with a tight-knit community, seeing houses that are beautifully painted with yards that are clearly tended to – a storybook type of town – there is more than likely an HOA keeping it that way.

Tiny gray with white trim house, fenced un by a white picket fence, tall green trees along sidewalk, blue sky with white fluffy clouds, bg pink flowered bush on the side of ther house

So, how does this relate to painting your fence? If you live somewhere with a Homeowners Association, you will have to contact them to ask if you can paint your fence the color you desire. If the fence is already beginning to look run down, chances are they will contact you first. They care about the appearance of their towns and neighborhood.

If it isn’t a Homeowners Association, then it’s your landlord. When you’re renting a property, I’m sure you already know that you have to ask their permission before altering the house or yard in any way. That includes installing or painting a fence on the rental property.

If there is no HOA in your area, and you don’t have a landlord to check in with first, you can feel free to buy a gallon of that neon green paint!

Fence Painting Etiquette

Maybe you are aware of general fence etiquette, which is to install the fence with the most appealing side outward and to make sure you’re building the fence on what you are certain is not intruding on your neighbor’s property. But what about painting etiquette?

Do you have to tell your neighbor when you’ve decided to paint your fence? No. Nothing requires you to inform them beforehand because the fence belongs to you. However, letting them know might be the right thing to do.

MMC Fencing & Railing advises that you should discuss your fencing project with your neighbour, if only to remain in a good relationship with them. Assure them that you aren’t trying to see less of them.

“It’s not you, it’s me.”, right?

In that Fence Etiquette 101 article, MMC Fencing & Railing also recommends that you consult with your Homeowners Association if you have one. There is a possibility that you unknowingly violate restrictions they have set in place. This could be anything from height and upkeep to color and even the type of fencing.

Trust me when I say you don’t want to find out about those restrictions after you’ve already done all the work!