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Establishing Rights Over Fences & Boundaries

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 14 Aug 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Fence Disputes Neighbours Boundary

Adjoining neighbours can sometimes get into a dispute about the position and ownership of a particular boundary, be it a fence, wall, barrier or some other kind of boundary line. Often the Boundary Disputes will arise when one party wishes to use part of the land for something particular and the adjoining neighbour opposes that on the grounds that the other is encroaching upon their land.

Alternatively, arguments also arise where damage has been done to a particular fence or wall, for example, which then needs repair and the decision over who is going to foot the bill.

How to Establish the Boundary Lines

Usually, the most common way of establishing boundary lines is to check the deeds of the properties involved and, more often than not, there will be a clear demarcation of exactly where the boundaries are. However, this is not a foolproof method as previous owners of the houses concerned may have agreed to alter the boundaries for one reason or another yet have not informed the Land Registry.

Another point to consider is where one party has been using the disputed area of land continuously for the past 12 years. This is something that is termed as 'adverse possession'. It can be quite complex to understand and in this situation, it's better to seek legal advice if the dispute cannot be resolved amicably.

Establishing Boundary Areas Which Aren't on the Deeds

There are certain boundary areas that will not be included within the deeds, such as party walls, hedges and ditches and fences. Most of the time it's simply presumption that determines who owns what and whose responsibility it is to maintain certain boundaries or barriers.

Common presumptions:

  • A fence where the posts are supported on one side would be the responsibility of the person whose side contained the posts
  • If two properties are divided by a hedge and a ditch, the person whose side the hedge is on is responsible as the rightful owner, although there's no presumption if there's a hedge only
  • Interior walls which separate a semi-detached property are usually deemed to be the responsibility of both parties, and any repairs which might be needed are, in most instances, divided between both parties if the damage affects both sides

If you wish to fix an exact boundary, you need to:

  1. Try to agree any unclear areas with your neighbours and all sign an agreement to that effect
  2. Ask a surveyor to draw up a detailed plan
  3. Send both the signed agreement and detailed plan to the Land Registry, along with a completed application (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/exact-line-of-boundary-registration-db), and your application fee (£90)

If you can't agree the boundary line, there are steps that you can take to determine the boundary (see below).

Ways to resolve your dispute

There are several ways in which you can attempt to resolve any issues you have over boundaries:
  • Amicable discussion
  • Mediation
  • Adjudication
  • Courts
Here's an overview of what's involved in each of the above:

Amicable discussion

Disputes over boundaries and your rights can run into several thousand pounds and even six figure sums in more complex cases should you decide to take the matter to court. This can cause immense stress.

The best way to resolve any boundary issues is to try to reach an agreement between both parties. Once an agreement is reached, you can inform the Land Registry of the agreement and fix the boundary. However this comes at a cost, and it may be that you and your neighbour can resolve the issue without needing to formally "fix" the boundary line.

Mediation

In mediation, an independent person is jointly appointed by both parties to "police" discussions. It is very much up to the two sides to reach an agreement. Having someone to help ensure that discussion stays on relevant issues can help with this, but both parties need to approach the discussions with a genuine intent to resolve the matter and appreciate that this will involve some compromise on both sides.

This can be a great and comparatively cheap way to reach an agreement that all parties are happy with. Further, the Courts will often stay (put on hold) proceedings to give parties chance to try to reach a settlement via this method. However the "down side" of mediation is that either party can walk away at any point, and so there is no guarantee that the problem will be resolved.

Should you wish to undertake mediation, an RICS accredited mediator (who specialises in boundary disputes) can be found at http://www.ricsfirms.com/accreditations/mediationaccreditationscheme.

Adjudication

Adjudication involves both parties jointly appointing an independent expert who will decide the dispute for you. Both parties agree to be bound by the adjudicator's decision. Many barristers chambers offer this service.

The advantage of adjudication is that it is speedier than trying to resolve the matter via the courts, and a definite solution will be reached. Further parties will usually not be required to make an appearance in person.

The disadvantage is this can be a very expensive option, and in some cases can be more expensive than using the Court system. It can also create further dispute by parties failing to agree an adjudicator, and spending more time arguing over who will resolve the argument than actually working towards a resolution!

Courts

The Courts are of course available should parties be unable to resolve their dispute amicably. Sometimes this may be the best way of resolving your dispute. However I would advocate careful consideration of the following before applying to the Courts.

1. You will usually need to instruct a solicitor to guide you through the Court processes and assist you to best present your case. Solicitors range from approximately £120ph to over £200ph. You will need a number of hours to allow for consultation with your solicitor, receipt of advice, and preparation of your claim / defence with your solicitor.

2. If you are not successful, there is a risk that you may have to pay at least a portion of the other party's costs, as well as your own.

3. The Courts will usually expect you to have considered and attempted a form of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation (as discussed above).

4. The Courts often have a several month backlog. When you will be able to have your case heard will depend upon your local court's timetable. However in large city centres, this could be as long as six months, particularly if you have a number of witnesses or a large amount of evidence to be considered.

What is the best way?

Before taking steps to try to determine a boundary, first consider why you need to determine the boundary. The above options have varying costs, however all do come at a cost, and it may actually be cheaper to for example jointly pay the cost of repairing a fence rather than spend money determining whose responsibility it is to do so, particularly if this is likely to be a one-off repair. Also remember that disputes with neighbours may have to be declared should you wish to sell your house, potentially making your property less attractive to buyers.

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Just having purchased an end terrace . I own the right of way there a covenant of easement with regard to 3 houses to my left . The right of way runs from the right hand of my drive to the in straight line to the border at the back then goes behind my neighbours rear gardens which is fine . Their access was known to me when i purchased the house. While i was on holiday the neighbour to the right put a gateway onto my property hinges on my side so gate swings over my side . I asked why she had put the gate in ,as it was my land . She replied " its my fence can as i like with " asked what she was going to use it for replied " its non of your business.Legally what am i allowed to do with the gate .
Millrace - 14-Aug-19 @ 5:52 PM
I have moved into a semi detached house and recently discovered my neighbours patio that he built some 25 years ago encoaches onto my land by 12 inches. I am building a patio to the same height. Am I within my rights to reclaim the boundary linethe previous owner and my neighbour have never notified the land register office of any changes.
Paulwt - 9-Aug-19 @ 7:58 PM
We live in a twitten (alleyway) and consists of four 200 year old cottages.Facing the twitten from our cottages is a 10 foot wall that was built at the end of the garden of the main property in front of us.It was in bad condition, dirty and rusty motorbikes etc. lodged against it. In the recent years we (all of the cottage owners) have painted the wall and now have plants in pots along the twitten in front of our cottages and also along the base of the wall. We also have some hanging baskets which are nailed to our facing side of the wall.The owner of the wall does not come to the property anymore due to ill health but he liked what we had done with the plantsthe last time we saw him.He has a man who does odd jobs in his house and who has threatened us with "I am going to rip off your flowersetc. and that we have no right to put anything on or against his side of the wall."It has become rather nasty and threatening due to our removing ivy that came from the garden and grew up a telephone pole in the twitten and BT told us that the ivy had to be removed - which we did but since then we have had so many nasty confrontations etc. Can you please advise us as we are pensioners and feel a bit anxious over his behaviour including shouting etc.
Ellie - 17-Jul-19 @ 12:21 PM
Hi I have an house which is joined by neighbour however my neighbour says I cannot leave my car on my drive as he has the right to use my drive to take out his bins we have the drive which is just on our side he says this is on his deeds we have looked into this however this is not on the land registry is this legal
Max - 10-Jul-19 @ 8:11 PM
Hi. My house was split in the '70s to form two properties and this along with property boundaries are clearly recorded by land registry. There is a third property (detached) adjoining ours that was part of the original 'farm' area. Our registry documents show the adjoining boundary line with the third property but there are no land registry documents available for the third property as the house has been in the same family for many years. The third property is tenanted with the elderly owner living in another county. The person ‘purporting’ to be authorized to manage the owners' affairs has commissioned a boundary assessment with the intention of disputing positions of current fencing. Our registry documents, during conveyancing, are clear on the boundaries. The previous owner left his conveyancing documents with us (he had lived in our property for 20 years) and these documents clearly show the boundary for our property as it is today. How many years must a boundary be in place in the UK before a landowner can reclaim land? I believe that the boundaries are as they were when the land around the now three properties were distributed (when the farm was split up). Where do I and my attached neighbor stand if the third property has no public records for us to view to establish if the boundary survey commissioned by the owner is accurate as there is no reference point from which to argue the position other than our registry documents? Thanks for your help with this
Angela - 5-Jul-19 @ 1:12 PM
We brought a new build detached house 10 months ago, all in sudden my neighbour moved his back garden gate forward stopping my access to other side of my house and putting all his rubbish towards my house wall causing unpleasant look and closing my vent. When we brought the house estate agent sated that whatever space come after footpath belongs to you. But we noticed when we received the land registry it looks belong to them. there is no space between our house wall and the land between my house wall and footpath. My question is are they allowed to move gate forward stopping my accessto other side of house , my bathroom window open to that side also. this isour dream home and ended up like this. Estate agent ignoring the fact that space between by wall and footpath.Where can I get some help to sort out this problem please?
MARY - 26-Jun-19 @ 9:39 AM
Hi just want to ask we have a shared pathway with fence each of us at our backyard and it was at both boundaries and we use that for more than 10 yrs but my neighbour close their door going to the shared pathway and instead they used their back for entrance in their driveway and house but a new owner want to move their fence at the boundaries of the shared pathway are they allowed to do that ?
Marnie - 26-Jun-19 @ 4:47 AM
my mum had to erect a fence from the centre of the two properties losing six inches the people who lived there said you cannot put the fence in the centre of the drive my mum has lost 6 inches erecting a fence due to there drive being higher the neighbours have screwed a fence into one of our concrete posts I know it is not right have I got the authority to cut the screws that is holding their fence we have 6ft 3ln on our side they have 6ft 9in on theirs my mum has lived there snide the houses were built in 1972the neighbours had a dropped curb and said if you want to erect a fence it will be on your side so we have a boundary fence they have no rights to hold a fence screwed into our concrete posts am I right
dirtyrotten - 25-Jun-19 @ 7:24 PM
I am selling my house and about 14 years ago my neighbour got a conservatory and asked me if she could take 10ins of my decking as she was to close. I had no problem with this .my neighbour has since moved and never gave any information to the new buyer.I have no problem with my new neighbours but i would like to no if my selling my property will not affect them as it was done alot of years ago
hazy - 15-Jun-19 @ 3:27 PM
My neighbours have nailed new slats onto our boundary fence on top of the original slats which are 2m high being 20cm higher than the previous slats and the posts which are 1.8m. Is this deemed to be outwith the parmeteres of blending in with the existing fence?I am also concrened about the weight the posts will now burden from the additional slats. My view is now very unsightly from my garden. What are my legal rights?
Moo - 12-Jun-19 @ 3:00 PM
Hi, by law is there a required distance that has to be kept between a neighbours back door and my boundry fence? Thanks
Becky - 11-Jun-19 @ 7:06 PM
i want to build a 3 ft fence my side of a boundary line separating my neighbors garden with my driveway. The reason behind the request is to stop children from running across my drive. The neighbiur has declined and has advised it is illegal and that due to the estate being open plan it cannot be actioned. Can someone advise me ?
Milster - 31-May-19 @ 10:24 PM
Hi my neighbours have put a new 6ft fence they did ask me if I wanted to keep my side of the panelled fence I said yes as this forms the back drop to my late mums memorial garden and would also leave a space between my decking and their new fence making it some what unsafe.The fence has gone up and there is a gap between my fence and their new fence as she says she has lost 6 inches I have asked her how she plans to maintain the piece of land which is still technically part of her garden and the fence as again this is technically only in her garden and not mine.Where do I stand she is avoiding answering me.PS the fence only went up on Tuesday and as we used to be good friends I am finding this all rather upsetting but don't want to be taken for a fool either :(
Caz - 30-May-19 @ 9:17 AM
I have owned my property since 1979 and all previous owners of next door property and myself have kept the fences, front and back, to the line across the boundary. Successive neighbours have always maintained the fence as that property is on a higher level to ours and the edges of their land are not properly retained. In other words, previous neighbours kept the fencing down the boundary, using the fencing to retain their land.However, the present neighbours have just erected new fencing placed much further away from the boundary, thus exposing the crumbling concrete and tarmac which is falling onto our land and looks unsightly. They refuse to retain what is effectively their land and expect us to do this and pay for it! Even worse, because they moved the fence back, we now have their inspection chamber/manhole protruding in to our back garden. They had resited this, some time ago, but it was not a problem when the fences were in their former position - and had been, since at least 1979. We believe it is up to them to remove the chamber to behind the new fence, and also retain their land properly which is now crumbling onto ours. They disagree! What do we do?
Gee - 16-May-19 @ 12:19 PM
My neighbours are lovely -moved across the road to a bigger house- they are renting the house next door to me for the time being. Their front garden and mine share a lawn. I spoke to them saying would they mind if I put up a small fence only 3ft that was ok with them. I also said as they weren't living there I would cover the cost . It is a smooth natural wood , posts and wood with knobs on each posts . My house Windows etc are all white my front door is midnight blue. My house is the end town house one of 5, their house is a detached also whitewith a midnight blue door. They know I am painting the fence blue .I just want to know what my legal rights are , as I have paid for the fence and it probably approx 2/3 inches over on my size of the existing lawn which I am replacing with a landscaped slate and gravelplus evergreen shrubs . Can I paint both sides of the fence blue , I have asked do they want me to paint their plank fence that ajoins my gate , set back at the side ofour two houses , they said because they have another gate at the other side of their house, it's ok just leave that because it matches the gate at the other side of their house. They know I am painting the fence blue . They didn't say they didn't want their side blue, and I know they want to keep their fence just stained. Can I legally because I own the fence paint both side blue. Very dark blueto match the doors . It wouldn't look right different one side because of the knobs on the post couldn't be half and half. They are not living there. We spoke very amicably regarding everything , see them most days , just want know my rights .
Bear - 12-May-19 @ 2:38 PM
My parents neighbours have put a 6 ft 6 fence up (12 panels - 3ft width panels long) and painted both sides of the fence red/ orange (on the side facing my parents garden). So my parents get to look at this colour from their side of the garden. We would like to paint my parents side oak brown a more natural colour. The fence has been built on the boundary line with posts sitting on the boundary line between both gardens. Please can you clarify the uk legal position? Many thanks.
None - 28-Mar-19 @ 11:50 PM
I want to extend our kitchen at the back of the house roughly 2x3m. To follow on an existing extension of the lounge, thus running the full length of the back of the house. We will be taking the flat roof off the existing extension and have it pitched with the new kitchen extension. Having had a few builders round to quote, they have said they will need the neighbours fence panel down to build the wall. When we moved in in 2000 she accused my children of setting of her burglar alarm, they were aged 4,6,8. and threatened to call the police as my children were unruly according to her. She has also made it clear the fence is hers even though the posts sit on our property by about a brick length. She pushes large stones under her fence into our garden in the summer of which we push them back. She is not the easiest neighbour but we have held the peace. We desperately want the kitchen done but we feel she is going to say know or at the least say yes then change her mind when the build gets underway. How do we stand on this matter.
Jeffers - 3-Mar-19 @ 3:13 PM
I recently replaced a fence using the same fence line that has been in existence since occupying my property nearly 40 years ago. However, for some reason that I do not understand, my neighbours are accusing me of trespass saying that the fence has been erected on their land. We're talking about 6 inches here so even if they were right they wouldn't be able to do much with it. I've received a nasty letter from their solicitor which is full of lies telling me to move my fence otherwise they'll take legal proceedings. I'm sure they're doing it out of spite because I didn't ask the fence company that they recommended to put up my fence. I've always had a good relationship with all of my previous neighbours and there has been no other dispute over the common boundary that we share. It's all so petty.
Sheila - 10-Feb-19 @ 10:12 PM
My Neighbour is building an extension which was approved. He took down the boundary fence so the wall will be the boudry. I was against it but i decided Let it go, it has now been 3 months and no wall built. It's beginning to feel my garden is part of a building site, no idea when the wall will be built. Do I have a legal right to urge him to either build the wall now or a fence has to go up? How long before I can challenge him. Regards Huda
Hud - 20-Jan-19 @ 8:05 PM
Our drive is owned by us and our neighbour has right of way over it.My neighbour is installing a new drive adjacent to ours, which he has plenty of room, however the road frontage on his deeds states 25' but he can only get this measurement if he encroaches on our existing drive by approx 2', which will restrict our access. We have both used the existing drive, for over 21 years and he actually tarmac the drive to the current width - there are no measurements for the original drive on any deeds but it measures approx 12' He will need to have new deeds drawn up so we have asked if we could compromise in order that we are both happy with the access. As yet he has not replied Any advice would be appreciated Chris
Chris - 20-Nov-18 @ 11:59 AM
We live in a new build property andour garage form part of the boundary that sepearates is from the people behind us. The soffits/fascias/guttering to our garage is technically over their garden. Last week I noticed the back of the garage was lit up I just figured that they had put in garden lights, then I noticed electric cables poking up in the garageand upon further inspection it seems that they have cut holes in the soffits/fascias of our garage and wired in spotlights that is linked to their electricity supply. They have not asked us for permisson to do this and I am very concerned that we have someone elses electrical work running in the garage without any fireproofing etc.Can we just remove the cable and lights and cover up the holes in the soffits/fascia?
Hardysmart - 26-Oct-18 @ 6:30 PM
Hi,I live in a semi-detached Bungalow with a Conservatory on the back, to the left the adjoining Bungalow owns the fence between us and also has a Conservatory which like mine is very close to the fence, we have had some serious leaks which we have got the workman back to fix, the problem is there is no room between the fence and the Conservatory to put a ladder so they had for a brief time to stand on the fence to fix the leak they were told by my neighbour to not to stand on her fence even though I did ask the day before there would be some disruption but she is adament! So as the leaks need doing is there anyway around this or the law on her side as she owns the fence? Thank Steve
Steve - 25-Oct-18 @ 2:11 PM
I have a property at the end of a residential close and have a driveway that runs separate and parallel to my immediate neighbour. My neighbour has extended his front porch to the point where it obstructs vehicular access to his own garage and insists on driving across our drive without permission. Since we have taken active measures to prevent him driving across our property, he has become abusive and prone to making constant foundation less petty complaints. In order to provide a separating barrier to remove all ambiguity, I intend to extend my front fence line along my drive to the point where it meets the pavement/walk way. I anticipate resistance from my neighbour so wonder where I stand on the matter?
John - 24-Oct-18 @ 9:20 AM
Boundary fence was on my property, my intention was to replace this with new. At the time my neighbour was okay about this, then he told me that he had a rockery on the fence which encroached the boundary. We agreed to get quotes for his side of the removal and then asked me if I was prepared to pay for half the cost of removing his rockery, no was my reply. He has gone ahead with the work on his side but removed three panels and a fence post from my garden and in doing so has dislodged my patio slabs. The cost of the repairs are approximately £3,000 to £4,000, what are my rights.
Jock - 18-Oct-18 @ 10:21 AM
Please advise. My house is a semidetached. Recently, my next door neighbour put a new fences in the back garden from the end of their kitchen extension to the end of their garden. I believe the built has encroached upon my land as the fences are standing 15 inches inside my back garden. 15 inches is the width of the gap from the end of our party wall to the new fences. To make matter worse, the builder who erected those fences damage the guttering on my conservatory. I have spoken in person to the neighbour about the fence and they are adamantthey are in the right and will not do anything about the fences.
Marah - 8-Oct-18 @ 5:03 AM
We bought our house 11 years ago and was told by the neighbour it was a shared drive, as our house had double gates and theirs had a single gate, the previous owner always parked in front of the double gates, which we also started to do. However in the last few weeks we have had builders in replacing our kitchen and this has obviously upset the neighbours Nd they have told us we can no longer park their. Unfortunately there is no way too resolve this with the neighbours, our question is, the boundary line in the title plans show the dotted line leading to the footpath, can we erect a fence to separate the two drives?
Kate - 4-Oct-18 @ 9:26 PM
I built a one meter high wall , after getting verbal agreement with my neighbour, in between our drives. The wall is in accordance to my land registry map . Gave him 3 week’s notice before starting work. Once work was completed he was unhappy but let matters rest. He approached me yesterday asking if he can build a pillar which rests on my wall . Telling me his builders are waiting outside and he needs an answer straight away. I said no - telling him neither of us will be able to make any changes in the future if we need to and he can build his pillar touching my wall. He was very cross - where do I stand ?
Dotty - 2-Oct-18 @ 4:51 PM
Hi my neighbour has built fence keeping some gap from original boundaries.There are concrete wall with wire net old fence as a old boundary,the problem is he is keeping all the junk Wooden pieces in the gap that is making my sights looking disgusting I was wondering if he is allowed to do that legally despite the space is belonging to him .Thank you..
Dhan - 1-Oct-18 @ 7:39 PM
After inheriting the house next door the son and daughter started renovating it, puilled down the 25ft leylandi (and my fence), said they'd replace said fence at no cost to me and are now selling the house (a year later) and when I asked when the fence was going up they said they'd changed their minds. They have taken the leylandi down, they did this ages ago, it was dead anyway. I refuse to pay for a fence as they destroyed it. Am I legally obliged to put up a fence or will plants or a ditch suffice. Where do I stand when the house is sold if I get neighbours who say its up to me to put a fence up as its on my side, (my left when I'm in front of the house). Should I let the Estate Agent know of this? Many thanks for any help anyone can ofer.
dogsallowed - 17-Sep-18 @ 8:05 PM
The driveway fence between our two homes was built and paid for by ourselves it is left hand facing from the road and we have always maintained it, the new neighbours have now painted one part andleft a mess where the paint has run down the inside and now they have pinned a brush type of screen to the several other sections, the fence was set at a height to insure privacy to both front doors and to allow the light in now we look out onto this screen which is higher than our fence can they really do that without asking us and can we have it removed
Caz - 30-Aug-18 @ 6:52 PM
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