How Do I Become a Fence Viewer?

Jeremy Laukkonen
Jeremy Laukkonen
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Woman posing

There is no set procedure you can follow to become a fence viewer, since this position is different in each municipality that uses it. Fence viewers typically are not employed full time in that capacity, though some jurisdictions do appoint them for specific terms. In most other areas, the local government appoints viewers only when they are needed. The necessary qualifications to be appointed as a fence viewer also differ, though most jurisdictions try to select people with a good knowledge of the local area and the applicable laws. To become a fence viewer in an urban area, you have traditionally needed to have a construction background, while agricultural experts have been preferred in rural areas.

The position of fence viewer has existed since at least the 17th century in New England, prior to the establishment of the United States. Other areas, such as Ontario in Canada, have also had this position for hundreds of years. The duties of a fence viewer have varied somewhat throughout the years and from place to place, though the position typically includes settling fencing disputes. Fence viewers typically are not able to address property line issues, though they can judge whether a fence is on an established property line, determine what heights and construction materials are appropriate, and order a property owner to pay some of the cost associated with building a fence.

If you want to become a fence viewer, you will first need to consider the area you live in. Most jurisdictions in the United States and elsewhere do not use the services of fence viewers, as they have other methods in place for dealing with fencing disputes. Many places in New England still use fence viewers, so if you live there you may want to check if your particular area does. In order to become a fence viewer in one of these areas, you will typically need to be appointed by the general population at a town meeting or by the mayor, aldermen or other elected officials.

Local governments such as city councils are responsible for appointing fence viewers in areas such as Ontario, Canada. There are no requirements stipulated in the relevant acts, so you do not even have to be a Canadian citizen to become a fence viewer there. The local officials typically try to select fence viewers who possess knowledge about the area and fencing laws though, so you will need to have some experience in a related field. Staff members of the local municipal government are often appointed as viewers, though this can vary from one location to another. The one hard requirement to become a fence viewer is that you must have no personal interest in any of the properties that lie on the fence line.

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