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Posted on: 2nd April 2024

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Fence ownership – who’s right and who is left?

Fence ownership – one of the most common uncertainties among homeowners, along with overhanging branches and shared driveways.

Some people are lucky and don’t have to share theirs with anyone, while for others, it can develop into a full-blown neighbour dispute: “Who owns the fence?” and “Which fence belongs to my property?”

Contrary to popular belief, there’s no rule that says the fences on the left side of your home belongs to you.

The transfer or conveyance deed might state who owns it, but if it’s not in writing, then homeowners should look out for any T-mark to the boundaries.

The stalk of the ‘T’ will sit on the boundary and come out into your garden or property, which means that fence is your responsibility.

If responsibility for the boundary is shared, like in the case of a party fence wall, for instance, then a H-mark (two T-marks mirrored on the boundary line) is the symbol conventionally used and it’ll indicate that any repair bills should be split 50/50.

When looking at the boundaries and the responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of a fence separating two properties, the first step would always be to look at all the documents registered at the HM Land Registry. 

Documents such as the conveyances, transfers and deeds may outline ownership and maintenance obligations of the fence. 

Where the documents registered with HM Land registry are silent on the issue, there is a common practice that the property owners, either side of the fence, are jointly responsible for the upkeep and maintenance.

According to GOV.UK it may be worth the homeowner:

  • Checking the information they received when they bought the house including the register/deeds as well as any particulars of sale provided by the seller which may include details of which fence/boundary they have looked after. 
  • If they don't have a copy of the register or 'filed' deeds (if any) then obtain copies. 
  • Read, and ask their neighbour to read,  guidance on boundaries. 
  • Try and agree with your neighbours a way forward that works for you both. 

Other questions you may have:

Can I make my neighbour repair their fence?

There’s no law which says your neighbour has to repair their fence, even if it’s rotting away and making the side of your property look bad. While you could opt for a boundary demarcation and hire a disputes expert to write a report, you could end up wasting your money as it’s unlikely they’d change their mind. What you could do instead is leave the old fence where it is and erect another one right next to it. The boundary would then be a thin line that runs between the two fences, even if they’re touching each other.

How high can a fence be?

Fences in back gardens can be up to 2 metres high. If you want it to be higher, you’ll need to get planning permission.   

Can I attach something to my neighbour’s fence?

You can only hang things on your neighbour’s fence, paint it, or use it to support your plants with their permission. Anything you do to your neighbour’s fence without permission, including staining or applying preservative to your side of the fence, is tantamount to criminal damage.


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