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Property Surveying Blog
February 3, 2020

Boundary Fences

Written by Tughan Musa

This time of year one of the joys of living in the Uk is the weather tends to be wet and windy.

In the aftermath of a storm, fences can be blown down and hedges up-rooted. We can anticipate neighbours will be debating the replacement of these boundary features. But what happens if one neighbour doesn’t agree with the position of the new feature? For example, your neighbour erects a fence onto what you believe is your land.

What can you do?

Many immediately turn to the Land Registry and obtain official copies of the register and title plan for their registered title. You may believe the boundary lies in the location of the red line on their land registry title plan and seek to argue that the “offending fence” lies within the land edged red on the plan. Neighbours may also argue over ownership of a boundary feature itself.

These events will highlight the fact that the neighbours may have a different view on whose land is whose. However, the Land Registry plan does not determine the legal boundary. Section 60 of the Land Registration Act 2002:

“(1) the boundary of a registered estate as shown for the purposes of the register is a general boundary, unless shown as determined under this section (2) a general boundary does not determine the exact line of the boundary”.

This situation gives rise to confusion over the relationship between:

  • the position of the boundary;
  • the position of the fence;
  • the ownership of the fence.

The most important piece of evidence in establishing the boundary is actually the transfer, which first split the land out of common ownership. This is the first conveyance separating your land from your neighbours. The boundaries are fixed at this point in time. Therefore, in the absence of any contrary evidence, this document evidences the position of the boundary.

Who owns the fence?

The conveyance (or the transfer) plan may show T-mark to those boundaries for which responsibility rests with the owner of the property. If responsibility for the boundary is shared (for example, in the case of a “party fence wall”) then an H-mark (effectively two T-marks mirrored on the boundary line) is the conventional symbol that is used.

What can I do if the fence is on my neighbour’s land and they won’t repair the fence?

You cannot force your neighbour to repair their fence if they wish not to. What you can do is erect your own fence within your own land alongside your neighbours’ fence. If your neighbours really dig their heels in, you could point out that if the wall or fence becomes so dilapidated that it falls over onto your land, they’ll be liable to pay for any damage caused by the collapse.

How high a fence can I put on my boundary?

Generally, fences are allowed to be erected up to 2m high, but it usually differs to each local authority planning policy

It will normally be necessary to pull together as much information as possible to try to establish evidence of where the boundary lies and there are numerous factors to consider. This might include obtaining and considering title deeds, sales particulars, pre-contract enquires/replies, witness testimony, maps/plans, photographs (including aerial photographs) and videos.

If you have evidence that a fence has for example been in place for more than 12 years (which is the necessary period of time) then you may have a right to claim an advantage or change to the boundary based on the legal concept of adverse possession.

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 you and your neighbour, but the matter cannot be resolved, the parties could jointly instruct a Berry Lodge surveyor to advise where the boundary lies. You can then follow this by entering into a boundary agreement, which can be sent to the Land Registry. The fence can then be positioned to act as a border and a clear boundary line.

If you would like to discuss Boundary Surveying or Boundary matters with our Surveyors, get in touch with us now and we would be more than happy to assist.