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 The update noted that the mechanisms in the law to handle disputes are outdated.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.