• April 7th, 2016 - 
  • Posted by SEOCLD

Who is Responsible for Fence Repair?

Are you still picking up the pieces from all those storms that visited over the Winter Season? Apart from the odd bit of rubbish and bins going astray, some of you might have more trouble in the form of fallen or broken fences.

But the big question is; who owns the fence and therefore needs to fix it?

There are some common preconceptions when it comes to fence ownership, such as owning the fence to the left or right of your property. These may well be true, however you can’t be sure unless you check the plans in the title deeds. (If you don’t have your title deeds you can contact the land registry for a copy).

Title deeds look similar to architect plans, however we’ve drawn up a simple diagram to illustrate plainly, how to determine the ownership of a fence.

Fence Ownership

A ‘T’ mark facing inwards indicates the fence belongs to the owner of that land to which the mark faces inwards.

An ‘H’ mark between lands indicates joint ownership/joint party fencing. Meaning repairs or replacement of the fence should be split equally.

There are exceptions to this T and H rule, however.

Occasionally, neighbours may construct fences that aren’t technically their responsibility. Keep in mind that they may be building on their own land; so refer to your plans to see where the boundaries lie.

People who do this normally have a reason for doing so; otherwise they would be unlikely to spend unnecessary money!

A common reason is that they aren’t happy with the current fence in place. If you aren’t the fence owner, you can’t force your neighbours to fix it – even if it is on the brink of collapse. Constructing a new fence on their own side of the boundary allows property owners to get around this problem.

Alternatively, a fence may be constructed in addition to a natural hedge boundary to provide additional privacy.

Take note: If you are the owner of a hedge, bear in mind that it is your responsibility to maintain it. A common practice is to plant the hedge with at least a 1.2metre gap inside your boundary line and try to keep it trimmed to no more than 3 metres in height; this will save you any disputes with neighbours in the long run.

Trespassing and Adverse Possession

Deed plans will normally show a red line detailing your land boundaries. However, this is often relatively inaccurate and will not always reflect the exact location of the boundaries.

This can cause problems between neighbours in the form of trespassing.

If the trespassing is judged as minor, in the view of the court, no action will be taken. However, if a neighbour has built a fence that significantly surpasses the boundary onto someone else’s land, they can obtain an injunction from the court. This will result in the removal of the fence and compensation to the other party.

When it comes to boundaries, keep in mind that there may have been movements over the years due to land being acquired by adverse possession. Although not common since the Law of Property Act 2002, some properties could still be affected by undocumented boundary changes.

Remember if you think there are errors in your plans or they overlap with those of your neighbours, be sure to contact the Land Registry so it can be rectified.

To sum up.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you on your quest to unravel the complex topic of fence ownership and responsibilities.

If you’re a landlord be sure to keep an eye on your fences as storms, and even tenants can cause damage that could lead to disputes with the neighbours…and no one wants that!

GNB Software are specialists in property maintenance software, which allows you to monitor each maintenance job and ensure that all repairs are completed within a suitable timescale. To find out more about our Property Maintenance Software why not give it a free trial or contact us today for more information.

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