Iowa Fence Law Before Legislature

I'll admit that the Iowa Fence Law (359A) has become a side project of mine.  I have blogged about it on two separate occasions in the past, first noting that as written and determined by the Iowa Supreme Court, the law applied to both urban and rural property.  The update noted that the mechanisms in the law to handle disputes are outdated.

The Iowa Senate is reviewing a bill to address the first issue.  Senate File 2102 seeks to modify the fence law to only require an adjoining landowner with livestock (or who has owned livestock in the last five years) to help pay for the neighbors' fence. 

However, the problematic dispute resolution mechanism still exists.  Power to resolve problems under this code section are still within the purview of a group called "fence viewers," who are essentially township trustees.  In areas where township trustees no longer exist, it is unclear how disputes are resolved.

The Legislature should completely abandon 359A as currently written and start from scratch.  The piecemeal amendments to the fence law that have occurred over the last century make it completely impractical. 

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Comments (2) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Darrel Crawford - April 2, 2012 10:10 AM

I disagree about fences being a thing of the past. I believe, as a land owner, that there are many reason for having border fences today. As well as being able to run livestock on the land I believe that their are many other issues that can and do come up in land ownership. Habitual trespass is one that is becoming a bigger issue every year in my area. Liabilities continue to increase in many ways that didn't seem to come up as much as today.
I believe that weather someone has had livestock in the last five year or not has nothing to do with weather fences are needed. If two neighbor agree to take out the fences, that is one thing but just because one doesn't want to fence the the other does doesn't make it right to change history on a short term basis.

Dave Brown - October 31, 2012 9:15 PM

Well Mr Crawford. Here is the deal.Never saw a fence I couldn't climb over unless it was razor wire...Trespassing is TRESPASSING,fence or not. You obviously own livestock and as many livestock owners you can defray the costs of building fences by forcing your neighbor to help you out....... Look at it this way, lets say I want to grow flowers. Gee wiz, I don't want to invest in this business all on my own so I'm going to enlist a 150 year old law flower growing law forcing you (my good neighbor) to buy half of the pots to contain my flowers.The pots must meet a certain criteria also. The flower growing board will meet and indeed state you must do so or it's coming out of your taxes like it or not. Not only that but for the rest of your life if any of "your" half of the pots get broken or need replacement you will need to do so. What? You have no interest in growing flowers? Tough petunias!!!And don't think that all my flower growing legislator buddies are looking to change the flower growing law anytime soon. It serves us well.....

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