Virginia Laws on Property Disputes Between Neighbors

A breakdown of Virginia laws on neighbor disputes involving trees, fences, and the right to farm.

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Virginia Tree Damage Laws

In Virginia, if someone damages your tree, you can recover your actual damages (usually, what you paid for the tree or what it would cost to replace the tree). (To learn what you must prove in order to get actual damages, see Nolo’s article When a Neighbor Damages or Destroys Your Tree.) In some states, specific laws allow you to recover additional damages if someone deliberately damages your tree. To find out whether Virginia has such a statute, check the table below. The table will also tell you the amount you can sue for (the number is usually represented as a multiple of your actual damages).

In addition, intentionally damaging a tree is a crime in some states and can result in arrest, jail, fines, and other penalties. Check the table below to find out if there’s a Virginia criminal statute on causing intentional damage to a tree. If Virginia does not have such a law, general Virginia criminal statutes, such as those related to theft or property damage, may still apply. (To learn more about damages and criminal penalties in tree injury cases, see Nolo’s article When a Neighbor Damages or Destroys Your Tree.)

Additional Damages and Criminal Penalties for
Intentional Damage to Trees in Virginia

Virginia Statute for Additional Damages

Additional Amount You Can Sue for in Virginia

Virginia Criminal Statute

None

No additional damages

Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-140

Virginia Boundary Fence Laws

A boundary fence is a fence that is located on or near a property line, though the exact definition can vary by state. Sometimes even a hedge can act as a boundary. To learn more about boundary fences, including how they are defined, when a neighbor is allowed to build a boundary fence, and who is responsible for repairs and maintenance, see Nolo’s Fences and Neighbors FAQ.

To find Virginia’s boundary fence statutes, see the table “Boundary Fence Statutes,” below. If your state does not have a specific law defining and regulating boundary fences, there might be a local ordinance (in your city, county, or town) that has rules on boundary fences.

 

Virginia Boundary Fence Statute

Va. Code Ann. § 55-317

 

Virginia Right to Farm Laws

All states have enacted laws that exempt farmers and other agricultural operators from complying with run-of-the-mill nuisance laws -- laws that restrict certain kinds of noisy activity like operation of heavy machinery, or prohibit the use of pesticides, for example. States vary as to how “farming” is defined and how long the agricultural operation must be in existence in order to get protection under right to farm statutes. Some states also list specific things (for example, odor, noise, or dust) that don’t constitute a legal nuisance when they’re a byproduct of farming or agricultural activity. You can find Virginia’s right to farm statute in the table below. (To learn more about right to farm statutes, see Nolo’s article Rural Neighbors and the Right to Farm.)

 

Virginia Right to Farm Statute

Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-302

For other Nolo articles on neighbor disputes involving adverse possessions and easements, see Adverse Possession: When Trespassers Become Property Owners and Easements: Overview.

To learn more about the property issues covered in this article and other disputes between landowners and neighbors, get Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries & Noise, by Cora Jordan and Emily Doskow (Nolo).

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