There is an old adage on good fences and neighbors. This is especially true in agriculture. A good fence can keep livestock in the pasture, can keep livestock off your property, or can act as a barrier to potentially detour trespassers/unwanted visitors. But what exactly is the fencing laws in Maryland? Like many states in the East, Maryland does not have a specific state statute defining what a fence is and the duties for two neighboring landowners in erecting a fence. Instead, Maryland’s fencing law is based on county ordinances (where available) and previous court decisions.
This week, a publication I put together on Maryland’s fencing law was released. The publication, Understanding Agricultural Liability: Maryland Fencing Law (2014, EB-419), provides a general overview of previous court decisions related to fencing in agriculture and examples of county ordinances that impact fencing duties. For example, counties potentially have ordinances that impact the maintenance and construction of fences, specify how costs should be split between neighboring landowners, and liens to force non-paying landowners to pay their share of the costs.
For counties without ordinances dividing costs between neighboring landowners, the publications discusses how to utilize a fencing agreement to fix how costs will be split on current and future landowners. Use of agreements is one way to make sure neighboring landowners and future landowners understand how costs will be allocated with regards to the fence.
For other publications by the Agricultural Law Education Initiative, please see http://umaglaw.org/publications-library.html