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What Fence Is Mine In The UK

2 August 2023

They say that "good fences make good neighbours" and anyone who has been involved in boundary disputes will tell you that this saying is more true than you might think. That's why it is important to figure out which fence bordering your property belongs to you, especially because the answer can sometimes get a little complicated. If you need advice from fence experts, don't hesitate to get in touch. At Fence Forge, we have many years of experience with erecting garden fences and understand the rules and regulations inside and out.

Doesn't Everyone Own The Left-Hand Fence?

No, this is a common misconception. There is no general rule about which side of the fence belongs to each property. The property boundaries can be in any configuration so it can take a little figuring out to determine which fence belongs to which property.

How Do I Find Out Which Fence Is Mine?

There are two main avenues you can take to determine ownership of a fence.

Search For Clues

If things are relatively agreeable with your neighbours then you can come to an understanding based on some clues. Generally speaking, the property where the fence was initially constructed will be the owner's land.

So if the fence posts are on your side of the fence, you can reasonably assume that the fence belongs to you. Another way of determining boundary fence ownership is to see where the "good" and "bad" side of the fence is facing.

When erecting garden fences, it is usual practice to have the good side face your neighbour's property. Here, "good side" means the smooth side with just fence panels and no visible fence posts. The "bad side" with both fence panels and fence posts will usually face the owner's property. That way, everyone has one good side and one bad side of a garden fence.

So if you can see visible fence posts, then it is likely the fence belongs to you.

You will need to have a chat with your neighbour to make sure you're both on board with going by these assumptions and, if you are, then you're all set.

Check out: How To Fix Fence Panels

Check The Deeds

If it isn't obvious which side of the boundary the fence was built on or you want a more official answer, then your next step is to check your title deeds. These will usually, but not always, have all of the boundary ownership information displayed on them.

When you look at the plans, you will often see little markers on the property boundaries that look like a "T". If the "T" is on your side of the fence, then you own it. If it faces your neighbour, then they own it.

Sometimes, there will be two "T"s on each side of the boundary fence, which are connected to form an elongated "H". This indicates that you and your neighbour have joint responsibility over the boundary line. These types of boundary lines are also known as "party lines".

If you have a party fence, then you will need to work with your neighbour to decide how to manage the responsibility of maintenance, repair, and replacement of the fence. Or, if they are willing, it is possible to buy out the property boundary from them so that you have sole responsibility.

If The Deeds Aren't Clear Or You Can't Find Them

If you can't put your hands on the title deeds, then you can check the information on the Land Registry website or get in touch with your conveyance.

Displaying boundary markers is a newer convention with title deeds. And you will often see older deeds with no information at all about who owns the boundary lines on the title plan.

In this situation, it is usually a good idea to talk with your neighbour calmly to decide how to decide which neighbour owns the boundary. Often, if the issue is discussed before any problems arise, you can come to a reasonable understanding. If you wish, you can get it put in writing as a boundary agreement, witnessed by a solicitor.

Check out: How To Make Fence Taller

Do I Need My Neighbour's Permission To Build A New Fence?

If you have established that it is your own fence then you can erect a new one without needing any permission from your neighbour.

What About Planning Permission?

As long as your garden fence is below two metres high then you usually will not need planning permission. If your property adjoins a road or pavement, it has to be less than one metre. This includes any additions to the top of the fence panel such as a trellis.

In some situations, you may need permission from your local council planning department, however. This could include:

  • If your property is listed
  • If your home is in a conservation area

If you are in any doubt, it is always a good idea to get in touch with your local authority planning office just to be sure that you are within the regulations for your new fence. Our team at Fence Forge is also happy to help if you are unsure about the rules surrounding the height and placement of your new fence.

Check out: Are Fences Covered By Home Insurance

Can I Make My Neighbour Repair Their Fence?

If your neighbour's fence is in disrepair, it can be unpleasant to be in your garden. Unfortunately, you can't make them repair a broken fence if they don't want to. You also can't make any repairs to the fence yourself without their permission.

In fact, your neighbour has no legal obligation to have any fence on their boundary at all. So even if the fence were to completely fall down, their only responsibility would be to remove the rubbish from your garden. They would not have to erect a new one if they didn't want to.

So What Can I Do?

You have two options if you are tired of looking at your neighbour's broken fence. The first is to come to an agreement with your neighbour about what can be done. As the boundary's owner, the fence is their responsibility and they may be willing to work with you to ensure that it isn't an eyesore.

What If We Can't Agree?

Alternatively, if you can't agree, a simple fix is to erect your own fence in front of theirs so that you can no longer see it. The actual boundary line doesn't truly have any width. It is simply an imaginary line that separates the two properties. So the fencing on the further edge on your side can be as close to their fence as you like. It can even be touching, although leaving a small gap between the two fences is probably less likely to trigger a boundary dispute.

In some situations, your neighbour may be legally responsible for repairing their fence. For example, in situations where the broken fence is creating a potentially dangerous environment for you.

The Bottom Line

Boundary ownership can be a thorny issue that can cause no end of hard feelings between neighbours. Looking at where the fence is placed can help to figure out the issue or examining the property deeds can often give you a more definitive answer. If you need to erect a new fence erected and want to be sure that you're doing so within all of the rules and regulations, get in touch. At Fence Forge, we can help to guide and advise the best course of action for your new fence. And make sure that it looks great once it's done.

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