If you are planning to replace a garden fence or build a garden wall it is advisable to research your local garden law on fence boundaries. Property law can vary between different counties. Knowing the rules and regulations set out by your local council can help to avoid disputes with neighbours over shared boundaries.
What is the garden law on fence boundaries?
After a long winter of stormy weather, you may wake up one morning to find that your neighbours garden fence has blown over, exposing your property. What can you do if your neighbour refuses to repair the damaged fence?
Who owns the boundary fence?
It is generally considered that every house is responsible for the fence or wall to the left side of the property. But what if your neighbour refuses to repair the fence? Even if the deeds show that they are responsible for the boundary they are not legally obliged to put up a garden fence or wall. They can, if they choose to, leave the area untouched.
The title deeds to your property will usually mark out property boundaries and who is responsible for the boundary fence. However, in most cases it is simply noting responsibility for the boundary fence. The property owner can choose to do what they wish with the boundary line, providing they are not causing any damage or present a safety hazard to others. If you do not have a copy of your title deeds you can contact your solicitor or HM Land Registry for a copy of your property plan.
Who is responsible for the cost of the boundary fence?
The upkeep of fences is not generally a shared cost. Even if the deeds state that the boundary is shared you cannot force your neighbour to do maintenance and repair. It is always advisable to enter friendly negotiation and offer to share the work and cost. Unless stated on the deeds there is no legal responsibility for owners to keep their boundaries in good repair. If in doubt, check the deeds to your house. The owner’s boundary line is marked with a `T` and a `H` mark shows that the boundary is shared.
What if your neighbour refuses to repair the fence?
If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where the boundary fence or wall is damaged and your neighbour refuses to repair the structure, you could politely point out that if the damaged fence or wall causes any damage to your property, your neighbour will be liable to pay for any damages.
You could offer to help with the cost of installing a new fence if money is an issue for your neighbour. You should gently remind them though, that they are still responsible for the boundary fence if future issues occur.
Alternatively, you could erect your own garden fence inside your property boundary. Although this would be at your own financial expense, you will have full control over the design of the structure.
Do you need planning permission for a garden fence?
In most regions a fence or wall can be built up to 2m (6ft 6in) high without the need for planning permission. However, planning restrictions can vary depending on where you live. For example, conservation areas and covenants may have certain planning controls in place to protect the historic interest of the area.
You may need to apply for planning permission if your house is a listed building, you share a boundary line with a listed building or if your property fronts onto a public road and you wish to build a wall or fence which is higher than 1 metre (3.3ft).
Installing a fence or garden wall can transform your garden into a unique place to sit back, enjoy and relax. It can provide you with security, provide a safe place for children to play and keep family pets in a safe enclosed environment. The design of your garden fence or wall can also add a traditional or contemporary decorative look to your garden space.