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Home > Boundaries… who is legally responsible for what?

Boundaries… who is legally responsible for what?

Aug 27, 2020 | Garden

Walls and fences can often cause big problems between neighbours, with the on-going debate over who is legally responsible for what. For those who have fences that sit between two different properties – who does it officially belong to? Who is responsible for paying for a new one?

This is often an issue of boundaries, which is something that isn’t always clearly outlined when purchasing a property for the first time. When you first purchase your home, you will be given a title plan drawing created by HM Land Registry, which shows the general boundaries of your land.

When it comes to features such as fences and walls, it can get confusing. These are referred to as ‘boundary features’ and are more than likely not included within these documents. Sometimes, information provided by previous owners will indicate who owns what, but this may not always be relevant once they have moved out.

If you are lucky, the property deeds will clearly highlight whether it is yours, your neighbour’s, or joint ownership. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases there isn’t a definitive answer, and this is where the problems arise.

The first thing to determine is whether anyone has previously assumed responsibility for the fence. Did you originally purchase the fence? Has your neighbour paid for repairs in the past? If either of you have done any of these things, that person is technically responsible for the fence. But without legal documents, neither party can legally be forced to do or pay for anything.

If no one is officially responsible for the fence, then any changes, such as purchasing a new one, needs to be agreed beforehand.

If you do pay in full for the fence, you should then ensure that this is erected on your property line to avoid these issues from arising again in the future.

We believe that the best (and easiest) thing to do is to simply speak to each other. By having an open conversation about who should be responsible for repairing or replacing a fence, you could easily settle an issue that could become messy. We suggest going into the discussion fully prepared to contribute to the costs of maintaining the fence – whether old or new. This will go a long way to making them more willing to do the same AND help to avoid any unnecessary arguments over who pays what.

Even if you are fully prepared to pay the costs yourself, it’s always best to inform your neighbours of your intentions before carrying out any work.

Worcester Timber Products offer a complimentary site survey to aid any planned replacement or installation of new fences.