What is a Spite Fence?

In the quest for privacy, sometimes a homeowner can get out of hand. This urge can occasionally take the form of higher and higher fences or fence-type material which creates a barrier. In a moment, it will become clear why the topic of spite fences should be of interest to a fence owner or property owner who is considering building a fence.

Most people do their best to avoid confrontations with the neighbors.  But, not everyone.

Most people do their best to avoid confrontations with the neighbors. But, not everyone.

Emotions can run high

A spite fence is defined by the fact that it is built after some form of altercation or ill-will between the two parties. You may have heard the term spite fence before, and the reason for its name is the emotion which is attached to the building of the fence. Because a spite fence is a malicious form of retribution or revenge, it may be deliberately ugly or block off a roadway.

Maybe it isn't spite.

But, what constitutes a spite fence might be a little confusing. For example, in 2010, Sarah Palin built a 14-foot fence between her home in Wasilla, Alaska, and the house next door after a writer rented the home to write a book about her. It overlooked her garden, her daughter Piper's bedroom (yikes!), and the family swimming area. The writer, who has been criticized by both political parties for his intrusive methods, pretended offense. But, no one questioned the legitimacy of Palin's actions, according to the town mayor.

Another case was a man who built a tall fence between his property and his neighbor's but won his right to keep it because his neighbor was tossing garbage over his old fence. Keeping the trash out was a legitimate reason for the taller fence.

Unless there is a legitimate reason (think golf balls contained within a golf course), fences can't be overly tall. Cities in the Valley generally determine fence height. A fence can block the view from your property and still be considered legitimate unless the property owner who builds it does so without having a clear and valid purpose for the fence. As you can see, fencing can be a confusing issue.

Defendants have rights, but...

It's up to the plaintiff in spite fence cases to prove that the defendant acted in a way that interferes with the plaintiff's enjoyment and use of their property; and that the defendant's interference was substantial and unreasonable.

It should also be noted that courts usually hesitate to restrict the property owner's use of his land and give him the benefit of the doubt because property rights are a significant cornerstone of our law. Although this is the case, a property owner should realize that it never makes sense to build a tall or ugly fence as a form of revenge against a neighbor. There are other ways of resolving differences.

If you're considering a fence or gate project in the Phoenix area, Sereno Fence builds custom fencing, fence repair, custom gates, gate repair, RV gates, horse corrals, pool fence, pool gates, custom welding, and wood fences. For more information call (602) 481-1298 today!