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POSTED 28 September 2018 General

Boundary and Garden Fence Laws

It’s a very common sight to see gardens separated by fences – in fact, the idea of a garden without this physical barrier seems odd. So, it might be surprising to learn that there is actually no obligation in law to fence the boundaries of your land.

  • Alongside railways
  • Around disused mines
  • Around building sites adjacent to highways, both road and path
  • To prevent livestock from straying from their fields

However, these regulations are in place for safety reasons, whereas the simple garden fence just affords a homeowner a bit of privacy from their neighbours, and vice versa.

Despite their ubiquity though, there is a fair bit of uncertainty around the subject of garden fences, perhaps key among which is:

Who owns which fence?

It is sometimes speculated that the answer to this much-vexed question is that the fence to the left of your house belongs to you. In reality however, there is no such rule of thumb.

But you can find out the answer to this question.

The best place to start is the title deeds to your property. Your solicitor should have given you a copy of this when you bought your home; however, if you don’t have it, you can get one from H. M. Land Registry.

If the deeds don’t provide you with the information you’re looking for, then it might be time to dig out the Seller’s Property Information Form that was given to you by the previous occupant of the house. This should tell you which fence is yours and which is your neighbour’s – on the subject of which:

fencing law 

How can I make my neighbour repair their fence?

Unfortunately though, there is nothing you can do to force a neighbour to repair a broken fence or damaged panel. However, if you really can’t stand the sight of the thing, you can put up a separate fence right next to the offending item, on your side of course. The boundary between your and your neighbour’s property will then exist in the space between the two fences.

If you do want to put a fence up, it can be as high as two metres, above this you'll need planning permission. On the other hand, if your neighbour has recently installed a new fence, there is no law saying which side of the fence should face whose property, for instance the smooth side.

Can I attach anything to my neighbour’s fence?

Technically no.

Nor are you allowed to use it as a support, or even stain or varnish it. Of course, in reality, hanging the odd plant on your side of your neighbour’s fence is unlikely to cause too much trouble. However, anything you do to your neighbour’s fence without their permission is tantamount to criminal damage – so if you’re on the fence, it’s always worth checking first.