Fencing and Boundaries for your property

In the United Kingdom, fences and boundaries play a crucial role in delineating property lines, providing security, and maintaining privacy. The regulations and norms surrounding fences and boundaries are generally governed by property law, local planning authorities, and sometimes specific agreements between neighbors. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Ownership and Responsibility:
    • Property owners are typically responsible for maintaining the boundaries of their land, including any fences or walls.
    • It’s essential to know the exact boundaries of your property to avoid encroaching on your neighbor’s land or vice versa.
  2. Planning Permission:
    • In most cases, you won’t need planning permission for a fence or wall unless it exceeds certain height limits or if you live in a designated area, such as a conservation area or a listed building.
    • Check with your local planning authority for specific guidelines and regulations regarding fence height and materials.
  3. Common Boundary Features:
    • The responsibility for maintaining a common boundary fence is often shared between neighbors. It’s advisable to discuss and agree upon responsibilities with your neighbors to avoid disputes.
  4. Disputes:
    • If a dispute arises concerning boundaries or fences, it’s recommended to seek a resolution through amicable discussions with your neighbor. If this fails, legal advice may be necessary.
    • The government provides guidance on resolving disputes over boundaries through the “Party Wall Act” and other legal frameworks.
  5. Highways and Public Spaces:
    • Fences near highways or public spaces may have additional regulations to ensure safety and visibility. Check with local authorities for specific requirements in such cases.
  6. Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings:
    • If you live in a conservation area or have a listed building, there may be additional restrictions on the type of fencing you can install. Check with your local planning authority for guidance.
  7. Access Rights:
    • Ensure that any fences or gates do not obstruct access rights, such as footpaths or public rights of way.

Always consult local planning authorities or legal professionals for the most up-to-date and specific information pertaining to fences and boundaries in your area. Local regulations can vary, and it’s crucial to be aware of any restrictions or requirements before making changes to your property boundaries.

How do I handle a situation where my neighbour refuses to repair their fence?

If you’re wondering how to approach your neighbour to fix or replace their fence, the reality is that you likely can’t force them to invest in the maintenance if they’re unwilling. Ultimately, it’s their fence, and if they choose to let it deteriorate, it’s within their rights.

It’s important to note that there’s no universal legal obligation requiring your neighbour to fence their property boundaries. Relying on legal avenues to change their stance may not be effective.

Engaging a boundary and disputes expert to create a report may not be a worthwhile investment. If your neighbour is unwilling to spend on the fence, presenting an expert’s opinion might not sway them, and you could end up spending more money than it would cost to install a new fence.  So, what are your options?

Do nothing: You could choose to let the fence decay without taking any action.

Install your own fence: Leave the existing fence in place and erect a new one on your property, parallel to your neighbour’s fence. In this scenario, there would be two fences— one on your land and one on your neighbour’s land—with the boundary running between them, even if the fences are touching.

What is the maximum height for a fence on my property boundary?

Determining the allowable height for fences depends on local planning policies. To obtain the exact regulations in your area, speak to the planning office of your local authority. Typically, as a broad guideline, fences in rear gardens are permitted to reach a maximum height of 2 meters.

Determining Responsibility for Boundary Fences

  1. Retrieve your title register from your filing system or obtain an “official copy” from Land Registry.
  2. Request your neighbour’s title register or acquire an “official copy” from Land Registry.
  3. Examine both title registers to identify the specified responsibilities for fencing. Note that road frontage is usually not mentioned, and it’s generally assumed you are responsible for the boundary fence along your road.
  4. In cases where pre-registration title deeds are inconclusive, especially for open-plan front gardens, the front boundary may not be clearly marked.
  5. Locate the Sellers Property Information Form (SPIF) from your records or your solicitor’s. Ask your neighbour for their SPIF, as Land Registry doesn’t provide an “official copy” for this document.
  6. Compare both SPIFs to determine the designated responsibilities for each party. Discrepancies between SPIFs, title registers, and pre-registration deeds are not uncommon.
  7. Ideally, at this point, you should have a clear answer to the question of fence maintenance responsibility. If not, engage in negotiations with your neighbour to determine responsibility. Possibilities include: a) Your responsibility b) Your neighbour’s responsibility c) Shared responsibility, indicating a party fence to be jointly maintained.
  8. It’s uncommon for individuals to amend their title registers to reflect revised fencing responsibilities.
  9. When either party intends to sell their property, they must answer the relevant SPIF question about fence responsibility. This information is crucial for potential buyers.

Can I force my neighbour to lower the height of their fence?

If your neighbour’s fence adheres to the height regulations specified by your local authority, measured from the ground on which it stands (not from your side of the fence), there is no actionable recourse.

However, should your neighbour decide to reduce the fence height, for instance, from 1.8 meters to 0.9 meters, it could potentially lead to privacy concerns within your property, as such a low fence might allow your neighbour to easily see over it.