Fences are among the most common causes of disputes between neighbours. The poet Robert Frost stated in his 1914 poem Mending Wall that “good fences make good neighbours”. The idea of this poem is that it is our nature to want some barriers between us and in maintaining the division between the properties the narrator and his neighbour are able to maintain their individuality and respect for each other.
With this in mind we recommend that before starting work on any fences you should first ensure your neighbour is happy with what you are planning to do!
If a dispute does arise then we would highly recommend a compromise is sought before involving lawyers as the law on boundaries is complex.
How do I know where my boundary is?
Post and fence positions are no guide to ownership. You must consult the property deeds. These are the only guide to the property’s boundaries, which do not always coincide with the position of fences.
If you see a “T-Mark” on the deeds, then this will indicate that the fence, wall or hedge belongs to the owner on this land.
If there is no indication on the deeds of ownership, then if there is a fence with posts or struts on one side, the law presumes that the owner on that side owns and is responsible for the repair/replacement of the fencing.
Am I obliged to maintain my boundary fence?
Unless the deeds say differently – as on some modern estates – provided a fence is not encroaching on neighbouring property and it is not a nuisance, you are not obliged to maintain it. In fact, you need not have a fence at all!
What rights of access?
The need to repair or build a fence does not give anyone the right to trespass on a neighbour’s land so you must obtain their permission to enter their property.
Are there any restrictions to the type and size of fence I can install?
The good news is that unless you live in a conservation area or listed building, almost anything goes. There is, however, a height limit. The maximum allowed without planning permission is 1M facing a public highway, 2M elsewhere.