Boundaries – Your Questions Answered

I heard that every house owns the fence on its left side. Is this correct?

This is not correct. Unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule as to who owns which boundary.

How do I find out who is responsible for the boundary fences?

The first step would be to look at the property title deeds. Within the historic documents, there may be information on who is responsible for which boundary structure (i.e. the fence or hedge separating the two properties).

In some documents, the responsibility for the boundaries is shown by “T” marks. The plan below shows that Number 10 is responsible for the front boundary, as it is marked with a “T” facing in to the property. The boundaries with 9 and 11 are marked with a “T” on each side of the boundary, forming an “H”. This means that the neighbours are jointly responsible for the boundary.

T Marks

My neighbour is responsible for the boundary. Can I make him repair the fence?

In short, no, unless there is something in his deeds which means that he must keep his fence in good repair. However, there is nothing to stop you, for example, leaving the old fence where it is, and erecting a new fence on your side of the boundary.

Do the Land Registry plans show where my boundary line lies?

In most cases, the Land Registry title plan will not show you exactly where the boundary lies, but will just give you an indication as to where it is.

Where the two neighbours have agreed where the boundary lies, this agreement can be lodged at the Land Registry and will be recorded on the title to both properties.

The Land Registry can ‘determine’ a boundary. It will not get involved in a dispute, but if it is satisfied by the evidence given by the property owners, it will confirm the correct location of the boundary. If this has happened, a determined boundary plan will be filed at the Land Registry, showing the exact location of the boundary.

How do I find out where the boundary line lies?

If it is not clear, it is usually advisable to instruct a specialist surveyor and/or solicitor who will investigate. They will usually consider all of the historic documents, look at what is on the ground, and potentially look at what has historically been on the ground (where it is thought that someone has moved the boundary fence for example).

Is there a maximum height for a boundary fence?

Sometimes there will be a clause in your deeds which sets out the type and height of fence, which you should adhere to. If there is not, then there is no height limit, although you will need to obtain planning permission to erect a boundary fence over 2 metres high, as well as in other circumstances, for example where your property (or your neighbour’s) is listed.

Can I take the boundary fence down?

If the fence is your responsibility, then, in theory, yes you can take the fence down. Unless there is something in the deeds to your property, there is no obligation for a boundary to be marked by a fence or hedge.

If the fence belongs to your neighbour, we would not normally advise you to remove the fence as doing so could be construed as an act of trespass. Further, if you damaged the fence, this could potentially be a criminal offence.

It is advisable to speak to your neighbour before taking any action in order to avoid disputes down the line, and if in doubt, seek legal advice.

I have a dispute with my neighbour about the boundary. How can I resolve it?

The first step would be to discuss the matter with your neighbour. It may be that there has been a simple misunderstanding.

If relations are good between neighbours, but the matter cannot be resolved, the parties could jointly instruct a surveyor to advise where the boundary lies, and enter into a boundary agreement, which can be sent to the Land Registry.

If matters cannot be resolved and are causing you difficulties, we would advise you to seek legal advice. There may be various options available, including seeking further expert opinion, proceedings in a tribunal or a court for a determination of the correct location of the boundary, proceedings for an injunction to stop your neighbour encroaching over your boundary, or mediation.

I am selling my property and have had a dispute with my neighbour. Do I need to tell my buyer?

When you sell your house, you will need to complete the Seller’s Property Information Form (‘SPIF’). Within this, you should set out any disputes you have had with your neighbour, including boundary disputes. If the dispute has been resolved, then you should mention this. If you do not disclose a dispute, your buyer could potentially bring a claim against you in the future. Your conveyancing solicitor will be able to advise you on this further.

If you would like some advice regarding your property boundaries, please contact our property disputes team on 0113 244 9931 to arrange a free consultation. Boundary fence