Property Line Disputes

See also: Decks, Fences, Property Line ChangesSheds

What Is It?

A black man with a thought bubble with two houses and a property line.Property line disputes are disagreements between neighbors about the location of their property line and whether structures have been built on or over that line. While we do not become involved in private disputes, our land use and building codes do regulate where you can build a structure, such as a shed or deck on your property. Our Land Use Code also has rules about the space required between structures and the property line (called setbacks).

What It Isn’t

We cannot become involved in private civil disputes between neighbors. If you believe your neighbor has built something that crosses your property line, you may need to obtain a survey and legal advice to resolve the dispute.

Rules to Follow

Our codes require that you:

  • Do not build in side yard setbacks
  • Obtain permits for most structures, including decks higher than 18 inches, and build according to approved plans
  • Limit fence height to 6 feet in most cases; you can build a fence anywhere on your property

Read the Code

Read more about building near your property line in the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) and the Seattle Residential Code (SRC).


Our penalty for a first-time violation of the rules about structures in yards is $150. Our penalty for additional violations is $500. You may also have to pay inspection charges. Our penalties for building without a permit start at $500 per day.