Which Fence Am I Responsible For? Garden Fence Law Explained
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Which Fence Am I Responsible For? Garden Fence Law Explained

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Many homeowners are often caught off guard by garden fence laws. Boundary disputes can be expensive and frustrating, and garden fences are frequently at the center of conflicts between neighbors. So, what do you need to know? This article will provide insights into how to determine which fence you are responsible for and what to consider if you plan to build a new garden fence. Let’s begin!

Which Fence is Mine? How to Establish Ownership of Fences and Walls

To determine which fence is yours, start by examining your property deeds. A scale plan included in your deeds will indicate the boundary lines using a ‘T’ symbol. This symbol represents ownership of the existing fence or wall. In some cases, neighboring properties may share ownership of a fence or wall, indicated by two ‘T’ symbols joined together to form an elongated ‘H’. These are commonly known as party walls or fences. Here’s a mockup of two houses and their boundaries as an example:

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which fence is mine

While modern property deeds often clearly indicate boundary ownership, older deeds may not. In such cases, “presumptions” come into play. When it comes to fences, the presumption is that fence posts will be placed on the owner’s land, with the back of the fence facing them. So, always check your deeds to determine which fence you own.

Who is Responsible for Maintaining a Garden Fence?

In most cases, the owner is responsible for maintaining their fence, while party walls and fences are the joint responsibility of both neighbors. However, things can become unclear when deeds do not clearly indicate ownership or contain repair covenants related to the fence or wall. Land Registry documents can also be misleading. There have been rare instances where one party assumed maintenance responsibility for so long that they became legally responsible for the upkeep.

Can I Make My Neighbor Repair Their Fence?

Unfortunately, there is no law that forces a neighbor to repair their fence, even if it’s falling apart. In fact, there isn’t even a legal obligation to have a boundary fence. While some opt to hire a boundary demarcation and disputes expert to gather evidence and write a report, this often fails and can end up costing more than replacing the fence itself. If your neighbor is unwilling or unable to spend money on their fence, you cannot force them to do so legally. In such cases, you can leave their fence where it is and build your own on your land, as long as it is within your boundary.

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Erecting a New Fence: What You Need to Know

If you plan to put up a new fence, keep these points in mind:

Who is Responsible for Erecting a New Fence?

Typically, ownership and maintenance mirror each other. If your deeds indicate that the fence is your responsibility, then you should erect the new fence. Party fences are the joint responsibility of both parties.

How High Can a Garden Fence Be?

The maximum allowable fence height without planning permission can vary among local authorities. Generally, it’s two meters.

Do I Need Planning Permission to Erect a Fence?

Fences over two meters usually require planning permission. This includes any trellising on top of the fence. Listed buildings and fences that adjoin public roads and are over one meter high commonly require planning permission. If your property’s front is open to highways and public paths, it’s best to consult your local authority before starting any work.

What Does the Law Say about the Smooth Side of the Fence?

The fence posts must be on the owner’s side of the boundary, but there is no law specifying which way the fence should face. It is entirely their choice. However, it’s generally considered good practice to face the smooth side towards your neighbor.

Know Your Boundaries from the Start

It’s essential to understand your boundaries and the implications they have on your property ownership. Take the time to review your deeds and become familiar with all your boundaries to prevent future disputes with your neighbors.

If you’re thinking of moving, whether to the capital or West Essex, consider Ratingperson. Established in 1908, Ratingperson has been helping people make their move for over 100 years. As a family-run business, they are committed to making property dreams come true and providing a personal touch to every interaction with clients. If you’re looking for a better way to move home, give their friendly team a call today to find out why they stand out from the crowd.

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which fence am I responsible for

Remember, understanding garden fence laws is crucial to maintaining positive relationships with your neighbors. By staying informed, you can avoid unnecessary conflicts and enjoy a harmonious living environment.

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