Seeking an answer to the question ‘which fence is mine?’ can be a frustrating process. You may hear conflicting stories about which side you own, and which belongs to your neighbour. In this article, we answer the most frequently asked questions on the subject of property boundaries, so you can get some clarity about who’s responsible for your fences.
Which fence is mine?
If you’re seeking a clear and simple answer to the question ‘which fence is mine?”, then you may be disappointed. While there are ways to tell who owns the boundary, such as examining the fence or consulting the property deeds, there isn’t one definitive method of determining who owns which boundary on a property.
Some people claim you’ll own the fence to the left of your back garden, while others swear it’s the right. In truth, it can vary, and there’s no single, definitive way of finding out.
Can I tell who owns the fence by looking at it?
You may get a strong clue as to who owns which fence in your garden by looking at the fence. Most people ask for fence rails on a new fence to face the property that isn’t responsible for the boundary. This leaves the clean, ‘good’ side of the fence to face the boundary owners. However, this isn’t compulsory.
If you have an original chain link boundary fence, the same may be true. Any fence posts tend to be on the side of the property who doesn’t own the boundary. The chain link itself will be attached to the fenceposts on the side of the property that owns the boundary. This isn’t a universal rule, but it’s usually a good indicator regarding ownership.
Is boundary ownership documented anywhere?
The most surefire way to establish who owns what boundary is by consulting the property title deeds. This document establishes the chain of ownership of the property. It also usually illustrates where the property boundary lies, and which property owns which boundary.
The boundary line may have what looks like a capital T drawn on it. The T is typically on the side of the property that owns that boundary.
What happens if boundary ownership isn’t specified on the property deeds?
If the title deeds of the property aren’t marked to indicate who’s responsible for a particular boundary, then nobody has any legal obligation to construct a fence or boundary marker along that boundary. You may, however, reach an agreement with your neighbour to erect a boundary fence, for the sake of privacy.
Can a boundary be owned by two properties?
You may find that both you and your neighbours both assume responsibility for a shared boundary. If this is the case, the title deeds usually show a T on either side of the boundary line.
Do I need to put a fence along my boundary?
Although most people do choose to construct some sort of boundary between their property and that of a neighbour, there’s no legal obligation to do so. You may, however, decide that it’s best to make some effort to mark the boundary between the properties.
This can help avoid future disputes, while creating some privacy between the properties. You could decide to erect a fence, plant a hedge or use other creative solutions to construct a boundary fence.
Can I make my neighbours repair their fence?
If your neighbour’s fence falls down, or they remove it and don’t replace it, there’s little you can do to make them put up a new one. You may try to persuade your neighbour that it’s better for both households to have a barrier between properties. If you’re unable to do so, one option is to construct your own fence on your side of the boundary.
Can I paint my side of a neighbour’s fence?
If you want to decorate your side of a fence erected by a neighbour, you must seek their permission first. The fence is theirs and is on their side of the boundary, so any changes you’d like to make it must be done with their permission.
You may find that, because they’re not going to see your side of the fence, your neighbours will be happy to let you paint or stain your side of the fence. It could even make it last longer than if left untreated.
How high can a boundary fence be?
The highest your fence can be, without planning permission, is two metres. If you want to construct something higher, you’ll need to seek permission to do so. If your boundary is adjacent to a highway, your fence can’t be any higher than one metre without planning permission.
How can I resolve a boundary dispute?
If you’re in dispute with neighbours about a boundary between your properties, there are various ways to resolve it. If you have access to the title deeds, consult them first. If they confirm who owns the boundary, and its location, show these to your neighbour. If you’re unable to find the documents or they prove inconclusive, seek to have constructive conversations with your neighbour about the best way to proceed.
What if I can’t resolve a boundary dispute with a neighbour myself?
If you can’t resolve the boundary dispute with your neighbour directly, you could employ the services of a mediator. You can find local mediation services through your council. If mediation fails to solve the issue, or your neighbour doesn’t agree to enter a mediation process, you may need to pursue legal action.
Who can help with a boundary dispute other than the local council?
If the council cannot mediate a boundary dispute for you, there are solicitors who specialise in resolving this kind of issue. It’s worth noting, however, that the legal route can be costly, stressful and damaging to the relationship with your neighbour. Ongoing boundary disputes can make it difficult to sell your home, so it’s best to find a way to resolve any disputes that occur.
The quicker you resolve the boundary dispute, the better it will be for you and your neighbour.
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