University of Maryland Extension

Understanding Agricultural Liability: Maryland Fencing Law (EB-419)

There is an old adage about good fences and neighbors.  This is especially true for agriculture.  A good fence can keep livestock in the pasture, or can act as a barrier to trespassers/unwanted visitors.  But what exactly are 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.

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.

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