Information on local and state fence laws is available at local public law libraries and online, explains Nolo. Local building codes, zoning ordinances and miscellaneous rules may also contain regulations relating to fences, notes the 'Lectric Law Library. In general, fence laws regulate aspects that include height, appearance, setbacks and types of materials that can be used to create fences.
State laws regulating rural fences tend to be either open range or closed range, according to the 'Lectric Law Library. Open range ordinances allow animals to wander freely while requiring neighbors to erect protective fences. In areas where such laws apply, those without fences cannot take legal action if neighbors' animals stray into their properties and inflict damage.
In contrast, closed range regulations require animal owners to fence in their charges, notes the 'Lectric Law Library. In some states where such laws apply, authorities do not hold owners liable when their animals break out and inflict damage on neighboring properties as long as they've constructed fences that conform to established regulations. However, some states consider such owners liable no matter the type of fence they've built.
Laws regulating fences in urban and suburban areas tend to be very strict, warns the 'Lectric Law Library. Such ordinances encompass all structures that serve as barriers, partitions and enclosures. In many residential areas, local regulations typically limit the height of artificial backyard fences to 6 feet, and restrict the height of front yard fences to 4 feet. Most local stipulate maximum heights of between 5 feet and 8 feet for natural fences.