Frequently Asked Questions About private property

We often get questions about various private property matters. In this article, we'll break down some of the most common ones that are asked:

What control does the City have over how private property is used?
The City of Maryland Heights has rules called zoning regulations. These rules control how private properties can be used and developed. Each property has a zoning classification that tells us what kinds of activities are allowed and how much of the land can be developed.

Does the City enforce subdivision rules?
Some neighborhoods have rules called indentures that homeowners must follow. These rules cover things like fences, sheds, pools, decks, or other improvements. These rules are stricter than the City's zoning laws, but they are private agreements between property owners and trustees. The City can't legally enforce these indentures, but we can help you find out if your neighborhood has them.

Where can I find my property lines?
Property lines are defined by a boundary survey, which is done by a licensed surveyor. This survey shows where your property ends. Usually, you get this document when you buy your home. If you don't have it, you can hire a licensed surveyor to create one for you. They can also physically mark the property corners on your land. To get a rough idea of your property lines, you can use the City's interactive map at or contact the Department of Community Development at 314 291-6550 to obtain a copy, but keep in mind that it's not 100% accurate. For precise information, consult a licensed surveyor.

What's the difference between a building setback and an easement?
Building setbacks are areas on your lot where no structures can be built. Each property has minimum front, side, and rear setbacks based on its zoning. Easements, on the other hand, allow someone else to access your property. Utility easements are common and let utility companies work on private land to provide and maintain services. "Right-of-way" refers to publicly owned property like streets and adjacent land.

Property line illustration that shows side, front, and rear yard lines

Do utility companies need City permission to work on my property?
Usually, utility companies don't need City permits to work within their easements on your property. However, they do need permits to work on City right-of-way, like streets.

My neighbor's fence is on my property. Can the City help?
Property line issues like this are a matter of civil law. The City requires fence permits for new installations to ensure they follow zoning rules, but we don't verify property lines. It's your responsibility to know your property lines, and you can consult a licensed surveyor for accuracy.

Does the City plant or remove trees on private property?
No, the City only deals with trees in City right-of-way. This includes the land between sidewalks and streets or nearby areas. We can trim overhanging trees in the right-of-way to maintain safety.

My neighbor's tree bothers me. Can the City do anything?
If your neighbor's tree is dead, the City can require them to remove it. Otherwise, the City has no authority over trees on private property. You can trim branches that hang over your property, but be careful not to harm the tree's health, as you might be responsible for any damage.

We hope these answers help clarify some of your property related questions. If you need more information, feel free to reach out to us at (314) 291-6550.