Iowa Fencing Laws

Discussion in 'Legislative Forum' started by Obsessed, Jun 6, 2019.

  1. Obsessed

    Obsessed Active Member

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    Looking for input.

    I have a shared property line fence between my acreage and my neighbor's acreage to the North. None of our shared property line fence has been maintained for years. My neighbor recently rented out the East 1/2 of his property for a cattle pasture. The renter stopped by my place a month and a half back and asked me when I was going to be fixing my fence, because he was going to be placing calves in there within a week. I wasn't aware of the law that states that neighbors facing each other at the center of their property line are responsible for their 1/2 of the fence for everything to their right hand side of the property, so I looked it up and reviewed it.

    To be a good neighbor, I re-built and fixed my 1/2 of our fence within a week of the original request, (100% of 5 strands of barbed wire and 99% woven wire as well).

    The law states that a written request is required and I have 30 days to comply. Also, I am to construct my 1/2 of the fence up to spec of the law, to similarly match the condition of my neighbor's 1/2 of the fence. Like I said, the entire fence hadn't been maintained in years and my neighbors 1/2 is still completely dilapidated.

    The renter texted me yesterday claiming that deer must have broken my fence because it's broken in a few places and his cattle are getting out.

    What are my lawful responsibilities to fix my 1/2 of the fence? Written request required? What time-frame do I have to fix it? Am I even required to make repairs if my neighbors 1/2 is much worse than mine?

    Thanks in advance, Obsessed.

    I've got a ton of stuff I'm trying to get done this summer and maintaining a livestock fence for someone else's livestock, that was probably damaged by THEIR LIVESTOCK, is NOT at the top of my priority list.
     
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  3. Daver

    Daver PMA Member

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    Below is an old thread on the subject, I would start by reading through that and then seeing if you have additional questions. In my county, Davis, there are Fence Committees at the township level I believe that are available for advice and direction, I don't know if that is true though in other counties.

    https://www.iowawhitetail.com/forum/threads/fencing.53535/#post-602758
     
  4. IowaBowHunter1983

    IowaBowHunter1983 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Funny law in my opinion. On one hand I understand it, kinda. On the other hand, common sense tells me the person benefiting or in need of a fence should be responsible for all of it. Common sense would also tell me the only time you would split it, is of there are cattle on both sides. Yes I know this is not the law... thinking out loud. Strange deal.
     
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  5. Obsessed

    Obsessed Active Member

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    I like my neighbor, but the cattle owner / pasture renter and I 'had words' earlier today. I informed him that I was on work calls and in meetings all day, so we'd been texting instead. He accused me of being a jerk and that I wouldn't answer my phone and talk about this like a man. Well, a 4 hour call ended about 2 hours early and I gave the dude a call. I was HOT! I told him that I'd read up extensively on the law and informed him about a few of the things that I'd discovered. He snapped back with how there was no livestock within my neighbors 1/2 of the fence, to which I said it didn't matter. Then he prattled off that he would just install a full panel fence for my neighbors 1/2 of the property fence and I'd have to match it for my 1/2 of the fence. I responded, Sweet! Knock yourself out dude. I get a nice new expensive privacy fence, and all I have to do is make sure my 1/2 meets law specs. It ended with me telling him that he doesn't want to get in a pissing match with me. I'm the property owner, he's the renter, and I have the law on my side. I may or may not have told him to go F himself too.

    I had a lengthy conversation with Kristine Tidgren (Director - ISU Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation). She confirmed all of my interpretations of the law that I shared with her. Since I've contributed 100% of the costs and labor to build / rebuild 1/2 of my shared property line fence, (in an expedited fashion), and the other 1/2 of the fence line is still dilapidated and has not been touched, it would be extremely hard to have negligence proven against me or for me to be held liable for my neighbors renters livestock escaping through 'my' fence. I might be hauled into court if his cattle escape through 'my' fence and get hit by a car or something, but I shouldn't sweat being found even 1% liable.

    I also got a chance to physically inspect the fence line. One of the 2 top strands of barbed wire are broken in a 3 or 4 spots, but I don't think cattle are escaping there. I can't say what snapped them. Maybe deer. Maybe cattle. Maybe added tension from the sliding hillside. Whatever the case, these are easy fixes and I'll knock them out tonight after work with some splicing. About 3/4 the way down the fence line though, the entire wet hillside is sloughing off and sliding down toward the creek. It has been for years. The barbed wire strands and woven wire fence have both broken here once again. It was a pain in the butt to repair this segment earlier too. Kristine provided HF 2340 (https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/publications/LGE/87/HF2340.pdf). Basically, it addresses how the livestock owner is responsible for rerouting a fence around any area where it is not feasible to run a property line fence line, solely at the livestock owners expense. This area easily qualifies for for HF 2340, as I can't be expected to maintain a fence line across a dang active / separating fault line, to contain someone elses livestock.

    I love being right.
     
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  6. IowaBowHunter1983

    IowaBowHunter1983 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    .....boils down to one simple thing. I hate cows.... unless they are on my dinner plate. : )

    good job
     
  7. Obsessed

    Obsessed Active Member

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    I don't hate cows. No matter how stupid they are, they're still one of God's creatures, and mighty tasty. They can really ruin a good bow hunting spot though. My other neighbor to the South has cattle that got onto my land all of the time, until last year. Not through 'my' portion of fence either... Following multiple phone calls and offers to help fix his fence, I drew on one and had plans to haul his carcass up to the shed with the skid-loader for a quick and dirty backyard butcher job, before my better sense ruled out and I realized just how much trouble that could get me in... I called him again and explained the situation a little better following that encounter and haven't had a problem since.

    I agree with the common sense / logic about the fence. A property line is a property line. No fence is required. If I have livestock, or pets, or kids, etc. that I want to keep within my property, it should be solely my responsibility to pay for and maintain any and all shared property line fencing. If my neighbor uses the fence after I've installed it, to fence in whatever, then they shouldn't be on the hook for recouping me for any of my cost or labor, but they should be responsible for paying for or repairing any damage their critters do to my fence.
     
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  8. Daver

    Daver PMA Member

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    FWIW, that is the law in other states as I understand it. They call it "fenced in", meaning if you need it fenced to hold your livestock, you as the property owner need to pay for/build all of the fence. In Iowa, it is pretty much "right hand rule".
     
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  9. JNRBRONC

    JNRBRONC Moderator

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    There is the saying that good fences make good neighbors.

    One neighbor wasn’t interested in rebuilding an old fence, which was a slight relief. Got a call from the neighbor at another property, he’d like the fence rebuilt because it looks bad, neither of us plans to run livestock. I found that puzzling.




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  10. Obsessed

    Obsessed Active Member

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    'Fenced in' is the way it should be in every state. Kristine Tidgren from ISU said that the 'right hand rule' isn't law in IA. It's more of a 50/50 law in IA. So, the 'right hand rule' would equate to 50/50, but isn't binding. It may be if neighboring landowners enter into a property line fencing agreement, that is then officially recorded with the county.
     
  11. Obsessed

    Obsessed Active Member

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    I enjoy being a good neighbor and having good neighbors, and I built a good, spec meeting, fence within 5 days of being asked, because I was told cattle would be moved in in 7. I shouldn't be on the hook though for checking and repairing the fence weekly/monthly if it gets damaged by livestock that isn't mine, free range wild deer, or a sliding hillside, etc. It should be the livestock owners responsibility to make sure their livestock is within their property on a daily basis and make repairs to fencing where necessary. I'm not going to walk my property line daily to check & fix my fence line and check on someone elses livestock. That's absolute BS. Now, if I've been notified that one of my trees has fallen on my fence and don't do anything about it for 30 or 60 days or so, then that's neglect, but I wouldn't do that.
     
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  12. Elvis188

    Elvis188 PMA Member

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    In Kansas we use the Right Hand Rule. That said, I have had neighbors who didn't have cattle (I Did) that wouldn't fix their fence because they didn't care if my cattle got onto them. We and many others I know in the same situation just fix it all border fences every year including the neighbors half so we can protect OUR investment. It all just depends on if you want to get into a pissing contest with the neighbor. I would bypass the renter and go to your neighbor and let him know that you will keep your half up so it is ready when his renters cattle go in, but it is the renters responsibility to keep it up while they are in the pasture. Shake on it and have a gentleman's agreement. I would also tell him the renter is being a d*ck and you would appreciate him renting to someone new in the future!!
     
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  13. Obsessed

    Obsessed Active Member

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    This makes sense. I didn't talk directly with my neighbor yesterday because I was still hot and didn't want to say anything out of anger that may damage our relationship. I'll talk to him today or soon. I'm still pretty warm about it yet this AM.

    My talking points will be that I contributed 100% materials costs and labor to rebuilding 1/2 of our property fence just prior to cattle going in, (5 strands barbed wire and woven wire). I was only given a weeks verbal notice about my fencing 'responsibility'. His 1/2 of the fence has not been touched and is still in horrible condition, (mostly down and broken). It isn't feasible for me to rebuild and maintain a segment of fence over an active fault line where the land continues to slide, separate and break fences. I expect him or his renter to maintain the fence in order to keep their livestock in, now that I've built it, and/or to erect a segment of fence around the active fault line, (on his property), in order to keep their livestock in.

    I'm not very pleased with my neighbor for not providing me with more advanced notice that he expected me to rebuild that section of fence. He made the agreement to rent out his pasture some time last fall, well prior to me being approached by the renter this spring. My neighbor could have called me or stopped over and we could have had a conversation. (As, I had no prior knowledge of or experience with Iowa fencing law prior.) That way, I would have at least had a lot more time to rebuild the fence.

    I also wonder about the 'buddy' status between my neighbor and his renter too. My neighbor and I are friendly with one another, but we don't really have any type of relationship outside of being neighbors. I pray our conversation goes well and level heads prevail.
     
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  14. Ishi

    Ishi PMA Member

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    Please keep a level head with your neighbor.... going ballistic will make it worse (but I wouldn’t blame you if you did) sounds like your going to have a long summer but hoping for the best
     
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  15. Elvis188

    Elvis188 PMA Member

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    If I understand you correctly now, it sounds like the 1/2 that you neighbor should take care of doesn't have cattle in it. If that is the case, then you would start from corner post to corner post of the pasture that have cattle in it and you are responsible for your half of the property line of that pasture. You would also be responsible for your half of the vacant pasture but since there are no cattle there it is not an issue. It sounds like the renter has gotten you to fix both halves of that boarder fence. What a great guy.

    As far as the landowner goes I would be friendly and explain the situation. Heck, if he doen't hunt, maybe you could pay him the same money as the cattle guy to keep that guy out and you also get the hunting rights. This way you never have this issue again and the neighbor makes money which is his goal. Could be a good way for you both to keep peace.
     
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