Fence ownership is a typical source of concern among homeowners. Some people are fortunate enough not to have to share theirs with anybody, but others are fighting with their neighbors over the issues of “Who owns the fence?” and “Which fence belongs to my property?”
Fences can also deteriorate over time due to general wear and tear, which is often a huge indicator that your fence needs replacing.
Alternatively, you might decide to change the look of your fence to better complement the overall aesthetic of your home. When considering such modifications, homeowners may find themselves wondering who the fence legally belongs to. Before making any major adjustments, you must first determine whether the fence is yours.
Examining where a fence falls on the property line is the best approach to establish if it is yours or not. The fence belongs to you if it is positioned on your side of the property line between your property and your neighbor’s.
In this article, we’ll guide you through determining who owns a certain fence and the requirements for maintaining and repairing it.
How to Determine Who a Fence Belongs To
Getting your hands on a transfer, title plan, or conveyance document is the most convenient way to discover who owns the fence between two neighboring houses and who is the legal owner of the barrier.
If you can’t find it in writing, look for the T-mark on these documents, which signifies the right of possession if it’s on your side of the fence.
If, on the other hand, you uncover an H-mark, responsibility for the fence is divided between you and your neighbor, and the answer to the question “Which fence is mine?” is, therefore… both.
There are times when the deed does not include this information, which can be annoying. Some of the most common property disputes involve disagreements over fence ownership and obligations.
No need to worry; another technique for solving the case and determining which side of the fence you are accountable for is to put on your detective hat and locate the Seller’s Property Information Form.
This is a questionnaire completed by the previous owner for you when you purchased the property from them. If they knew who owned the fence, the answer would be in there.
If the fence is not on your side of the property line, you may have a more difficult time renovating. If the fence is on your neighbor’s side of the property line, it is completely theirs. However, if the fence falls precisely on the boundary, you and your neighbor share liability.
We recommend discussing with your neighbor before beginning any renovations, regardless of where the fence is located. Because pulling down and rebuilding a fence between properties would eliminate that boundary for a short period of time, an agreement is required to ensure things go smoothly.
So, who’s responsible for repairs?
Even if the fence is crumbling apart as you read this, there is no law requiring your neighbor to repair it. You can pay a dispute resolution professional to produce a report, but you may end up wasting money because most people do not change their minds.
A decent alternative is to construct a new fence adjacent to the existing one. Even if the two fences are not touching, it will form a barrier between them. Keep in mind that if you choose this option, the highest height you can go for is 2 meters. If you wish to build it higher than that, you’ll need to get a permit.
Does my neighbor need my permission to put up a fence?
A 30-day notice (in writing) from your neighbor is required if they are erecting a new barrier, whether this is a fence or a wall. If they do not do so, you have the legal right to sue them.
Keep in mind that if your neighbor has told you in writing and you have not responded, the court may order you to pay for half of the building work. The law, of course, applies to both parties. Another thing to remember is that the fence can be removed without having to replace it. The material type can also be altered.
What if they don’t look after it?
Sadly, there isn’t much that can be done legally to remove an unattractive fence. If your neighbor neglects the fence and refuses to conduct general upkeep, you may be trapped with an unappealing yard for the foreseeable future.
Of course, you can always talk directly with your neighbor about your worries, but we urge exercising caution if your neighbor isn’t the friendliest type.
Who is responsible for the cost of a new fence?
There is no definitive answer to this question because it all depends on your rapport with your neighbor as well as who owns the fence in terms of the property line. If you both use the fence and have a good friendship, consider dividing the expense of a new fence.
This is a popular strategy to save money on something that will benefit both of you. If your neighbor agrees that the fence needs to be repaired, they will most likely pay their fair amount without complaint.
If you decide to build a new fence out of your own money, you must be willing to pay for its upkeep over time. Maintenance and upkeep are not your neighbor’s obligation, just as a new fence is not.
Can I attach things to my neighbor’s fence?
Only with their permission can you hang anything on your neighbor’s fence, paint it, or use it to support your plants. Leaning or hanging things on the fence, or using it as a makeshift retaining wall, will place a considerably higher strain on the fence’s supporting posts and panels than it was designed to handle.
This could result in damage, and you would be responsible for the expense of any repairs. Furthermore, you’ll still have to complete the work and pay for it, so it may end up costing you more than you bargained for. If you need assistance fixing the fence, a professional gardener can help.
Can I paint my side of my neighbor’s fence?
The quick answer is that you can only do so with your neighbor’s permission! Again, this isn’t usually a problem amongst neighbors, but keep in mind that any paint or stain you use will likely bleed through to the other side of the fence.
As a result, it’s a good idea to plan your annual fence treatment day with your neighbor, so that any bleed-through may be addressed while the treatment or paint is still wet.
As mentioned above, you are not officially permitted to hang objects from or lean against your neighbor’s fence unless your neighbor has given you permission to do so.
It’s doubtful that your neighbor would object to you growing climbing plants up your side of the fence, but keep in mind that plants might become heavy over time and compromise the structural integrity of the fence.
Is a garden fence covered by my home insurance?
In most cases, your home insurance policy will cover ‘other structures’ related to your property, such as sheds, garages, and garden fences. While some types of garden fence damage are covered by your homeowner’s insurance, there are always some exclusions.
For example, if your garden fence is damaged by a fallen tree or during a storm, most insurance will normally exclude this.
As usual, it’s best to verify with your insurance to confirm exactly what is and isn’t covered. Before filing a claim on your garden fence, you should consider getting an estimate for any damage repair to ensure that it is truly worth claiming.
What if I’m renting?
None of the preceding information applies to you if you are renting a property. It makes no difference if the fence is on your side of the property line because the property does not belong to you; it simply implies it belongs to your landlord.
Consult your landlord if you believe the fence is damaged and needs to be repaired, or if your neighbor is failing to maintain it. They should be able to help you out.
Before you buy or move into a house, it’s a good idea to verify with the estate agent, landlord, or previous property owner regarding garden fence responsibilities.
A simple conversation with a neighbor may generally simply fix any potential future concerns. If possible, gain access to recent house surveys or documents that include land plans.
In many cases, these will already have defined limits labeled on them. This should resolve the question, “Which fence is mine?” and spare you from going to court.