Legal with Leah: How line fence law addresses weeds along the fenceline

Spring and summer have their fair share of rainy days, and along with the rain usually comes unwelcome weeds. When those weeds grow along a shared fence line between two rural neighbors, Ohio’s law spells out what and how much needs to be removed by a landowner along the fence line, according to Leah Curtis, OFBF’s director of agricultural law.

“If brush, briars, thistles or noxious weeds, those four things specifically … are within 4 feet next to that line fence, they need to be removed,” she said in a recent “Legal with Leah” podcast.

A friendly conversation between neighbors often resolves the weed problem. When that doesn’t happen, that’s where the legal process begins. Landowners upset about the weeds, which can spread, be harmful to livestock or make fence maintenance difficult, must give their neighbor 10-days notice to remove them, Curtis said. If the neighbor doesn’t comply within that time frame, the complaint goes to township trustees who look at the property to determine if weeds need to be removed within that 4-foot strip along the fence line. If that determination is made, the landowner is notified to remove the weeds in so many days or the township will remove them at a cost.

“They can then tax that neighbor for the cost of removing those weeds,” Curtis said.
And while the law doesn’t require it, she recommends having proof of that initial 10-days notice.

“Under the law it doesn’t specify what that notice must be, but as a lawyer my favorite words are ‘get it in writing,’” she said. “You (then) have some sort of evidence to show the trustees that you did your duty under the law.”

Curtis explains the issue in this “Legal with Leah” podcast:

Listen to Legal with Leah, a podcast featuring Ohio Farm Bureau’s Director of Ag Law Leah Curtis discussing topics impacting landowners.

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3 thoughts on “Legal with Leah: How line fence law addresses weeds along the fenceline

  1. Avatar BB says:

    Does this apply only in rural areas? What about in the Suburbs where a neighbors vine weeds are destroying a privacy fence?

    1. Avatar Leah Curtis says:

      This law does not apply inside of municipal corporations, or to adjoining properties laid out into lots outside of municipal corporations (i.e. subdivisions). In those areas, city codes or homeowner’s association guidelines will typically control fence issues.

  2. Avatar LW says:

    what about if you have wind break of trees and the neighboring farmer chops cornstalks in the fall but does not work them under and they blow and clog up all along the neighboring trees and into others yards (not just a few corn husks, I mean 200 lawn sweeper fulls of husks)

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