Boundary Law FAQs – Your Top 5 Questions Answered

It is never a good idea to get into any dispute with a neighbour as it can create ill feeling and an unhappy atmosphere in your home. You may be having issues with identifying which fence is yours or persuading a neighbour to fix their deteriorating fence, but the truth is that there are certain laws and guidelines that you must abide to.

You may be surprised to hear that the law does not actually require you to fence your garden, unless you are subject to certain guidelines such as the Animals Act 1971. Fences are generally a popular option for people who are looking to protect their children, stop pets straying or gain a little privacy in their own home.

There may also be covenant included in the conveyance deed or transfer deed that requires the purchaser to fence the land and make sure the fence is taken care of thereafter.

How high should my fence be?

Generally, your rear garden fences are allowed to be up to 2 metres and high and 1 metre on front fences. Fence heights are however a matter of planning policy. If you want to find out what is permitted in your area, you can contact the local authority planning office.

Who owns which fence?

It is not definite whether you own the fence on the left or the right of your property. The vendor who breaks up the land into smaller chunks before selling each chunk individually is the one who assigns responsibility for the boundaries of the new land ‘parcels’ that he creates. The boundaries should be outlined in the conveyance deed or transfer deed, as stated by the vendor.

My neighbour won’t repair his fence, what can I do?

If your neighbour is adamant about not repairing his fence or has not shown any interest in doing so, there is not much you can do to change his mind. By law your neighbour is not required to fence his boundaries, however you are faced with a possible option.

If you do not wish to do nothing and see the fence rot away, you could erect your own fence alongside your neighbour’s fence, within your boundaries. Then there will be two fences running alongside each other, creating a boundary and disguising the look of your neighbour’s fence.

What can I do to my neighbour’s fence?

You will not be allowed to hang items from your neighbour’s fence or lean things against it, unless you have been given permission from your neighbour to do so. You are also not permitted to paint, stain or apply preservative without suitable permission.

If you use your neighbour’s fence as a makeshift retaining wall, you may place a heavy burden on the fence panels and supporting posts and could end up causing damage to the fence.

Any work you do that has not been consented to by your neighbour will result in you being liable for the costs of any repairs so make sure you ask before you consider carrying out any works on your neighbour’s fence.

What can I do about my neighbour’s unsightly fence?

Again, there needs to be permission from your neighbour to carry out any works on their fence. Whether you want to improve or disguise the look of your neighbour’s fence through painting, staining or adding trellis for climbing plants, unfortunately you are unable to do so unless you have permission.

Your best option may be to either erect your own fence alongside your neighbour’s fence or alternatively, you could plant free standing shrubs or a hedge to disguise the fence in your garden.


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