A Spite Fence In New York? You Could Get Sued
In the poem "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost, there is a line that reads 'Good fences make good neighbors'. Fences aren't just for marking territory, they can be used for safety and privacy as well. However, there is one particular kind of fence that could get you sued by your neighbor in New York.
If you have neighbors that you don't get along with, installing a fence is one way to 'keep the peace'. You could have a split-rail, iron railing fence or the classic picket fence to name a few. One you might want to avoid is called a 'spite fence'.
Cornell Law School defines a spite fence as 'a fence built maliciously, with the sole purpose or intent of annoying, injuring, or spiting an adjoining owner'. You might have purposely built this fence to be very tall, blocking your neighbors view of a lake, for example. Maybe your neighbor has a sun room and you build a fence to block the sun. These could be considered spite fences.
According to Find Law, in New York, a spite fence is one that exceeds 10 feet high and was built to block your enjoyment of light or air. If you decide to build one of these fences, your neighbor could sue you for private nuisance.
A private nuisance means there has been a loss of the use or enjoyment of property without an actual physical invasion of that property. This could be a difficult case to prove but possible. If there is a dispute typically a town 'fence viewer', or inspector. will settle the disagreement.'a fence built maliciously, with the sole purpose or intent of annoying, injuring, or spiting an adjoining owner'