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Establishing Rights Over Fences & Boundaries

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 5 Aug 2020 | 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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[Add a Comment]
Hi can you advise me. My neighbour has taken down a joint boundary hedge and erected a six foot fence but moved the fence onto her land and left me with concrete posts that have been cut down leaving them about a foot sticking up out the ground. She said she had given me more land well 6 inches hardly enough to develop. Is this legal to leave the cut down posts on my land.
Viv - 5-Aug-20 @ 3:56 PM
My neighbour has just bought her house off the council and all she has done since is made my life a misery,I bought my house years ago not from the council.I had put a new shed up as it was the boundary she didn’t like that so when it was finished she hung a great big planter on it then she had a new fence and she attached it in front of mine saying the bricks under the concert on my side were hers I’ve been to a lawyer who sent out letters I got the boundaries measured everything was in order but she is a law of her own !! Court is next but she won’t take note
Star - 24-Jul-20 @ 3:28 PM
I once had a girlfriend...I rode her bareback.... ...she didn't get up the duff...but still wanted me to give her baby money... ...should I stick up a fence and tell her to do one?
McLovin - 7-Jul-20 @ 9:33 PM
Kip - I realised the same after posting - Maybe the admins no longer monitor the site and there's no useful means to respond to a particular comment and create a thread! Good Luck :-)
jonno147 - 30-Jun-20 @ 8:06 AM
Who is it if anyone is going to answer any of the questions/problems on this site? It seems to me that it's only use is to let off a little steam has anyone ever got an answer?
Kip - 25-Jun-20 @ 3:57 PM
Our neighbours are responsible for the fence. Their fence is in poor condition, and by their garage there is only a very small gap between their garage and the fence. This length of fence from the garage comprises posts and 2 horizontal planks. This construct continues, past their oil tank, to their back garden. Trellis is attached to the sections at the rear. The horizontal planks have rotted away by the oil tank. Last week They have lifted up the fence (- the bases of the posts have rotted -) and moved their fence on to our property to enlarge the gap by the garage. They have wedged concrete and wooden slabs on their side of the fence. The final post by the oil tank is about 3 to 6" out of alignment with the fence at the rear. They are a v. Fit couple, late 70's, but are extremely awkward neighbours. None of their immediate neighbours gets on with them. (He is ex RN so seems to think he can order people around.)Their property was built after ours, abt 2000, and they bought it with this limited access. Had they been more pleasant, we would be obliging, but a number of incidents have left us bearing them no goodwill. We are minded to send them a solicitor's letter. Has any one else any experienceof this sort of problem.
Oh dear! - 23-Jun-20 @ 6:35 PM
Our neighbour decided to remove a row of conifer trees from her land and then proceeded to put a fence up on the boundary line even though we are technically responsible for the boundary.She then demanded money for the fence which we said no as money was tight at the time, she is now threatening to remove the fence. Leaving the two gardens exposed to each other. Can she do this?
Phil - 22-Jun-20 @ 7:00 PM
Hi all, When I bought my property, fences existed on 3 sides of my rear garden, which were all different shapes and sizes and didn't offer me any privacy - I see these as the original boundary of my property and I own the land up to the existing fence(s) at that time. I decided to erect a 6ft wooden around all sides of my rear garden - approximately 6 inches onto my own land (within this boundary) and checked with all the neighbours they were ok with this. And they were. 6 years later, one of the properties was sold on. The new owners have since removed their rear fence, decided to paint the back of my 6ft wooden fence and remove the cat spikes attached to the top of the fence. I spoke with them nicely (while they were busy painting my fence) and explained this was my fence and they were not allowed to paint it or alter it without my permission. To confirm: I spoke kindly with them. After being called an abusive name, they said if I was to re-attach the fence spike they would remove them - they have 4 cats and I was not allowed to attach these to a boundary fence - it's against the law - they said!! Cats seem to use my raised flower / veg patches as a toilet and that is the reason I attached the spike (years before the new neighbours moved in). Any advice would be appreciated.
Jonno147 - 19-Jun-20 @ 3:41 PM
Hi all, When I bought my property, fences existed on 3 sides of my rear garden, which were all different shapes and sizes and didn't offer me any privacy - I see these as the original boundary of my property and I own the land up to the existing fence(s) at that time. I decided to erect a 6ft wooden around all sides of my rear garden - approximately 6 inches onto my own land (within this boundary) and checked with all the neighbours they were ok with this. And they were. 6 years later, one of the properties was sold on. The new owners have since removed their rear fence, decided to paint the back of my 6ft wooden fence and remove the cat spikes attached to the top of the fence. I spoke with them nicely (while they were busy painting my fence) and explained this was my fence and they were not allowed to paint it or alter it without my permission. To confirm: I spoke kindly with them. After being called an abusive name, they said if I was to re-attach the fence spike they would remove them - they have 4 cats and I was not allowed to attach these to a boundary fence - it's against the law - they said!! Cats seem to use my raised flower / veg patches as a toilet and that is the reason I attached the spike (years before the new neighbours moved in). Any advice would be appreciated.
Jonno147 - 19-Jun-20 @ 3:28 PM
i live in a council house and have paid and put up all the surrounding fencing in my back garden which is inside the boundary as when i put this up my neighbour took their fence down which was on the boundary,my neighbour is wanting to paint the side of the fence that faces their garden, but i don't them to as they haven't contributed to the fence. what rights do i have if any to not allow them to paint
damo - 19-Jun-20 @ 12:02 PM
We moved into a detatched house and realised after we had moved in that we couldn’t access one side of our house. The neighbour has a fence attached to our garage which is quite new. It looks to us like the neighbour has moved the fence line and taken some shared land. She maintains that the fence was there when she moved in several years ago, but a man that came to quote us for a new fence on the other side, says it is around 3 years old due to its colour. And the old fence post holders that are in our garden, he says, shows it was at a different angle and that it is illegal to attach her fence to our garage. She actually ran back into her house when she neared my husband querying it. We think that she has taken the no mans land between the hoses that should be used to access our property. Can we tell her to remove her fence from our garage at the very least?
Doggymum - 4-Jun-20 @ 11:58 AM
I'm wanting to put fencing up on the right hand side of my garden there are concrete post and wire fencing between me and my neighbour she said the concrete post are the boundary and I'm not allowed to take them out is this correct
Mel - 31-May-20 @ 6:15 PM
Hi I live in a purpose built flat, the house next to me has a fence with slats in it so it means they can see in to my bedroom and kitchen. I have no privacy at all, should it not be a complete fence.? They rent like I do, can I complain to there landlord as I don’t feel I can go into my garden without them always looking over, any advice would be great.
Trine - 30-May-20 @ 8:53 AM
hi my neighbours patio is raised and for us to put fencing it would need to be more than 6ft as they would still be head and shoulders above our fence which gives us no privacy are we allowed to put it higher in order tohave privacy. San
Archie - 30-May-20 @ 8:16 AM
I live in a detached house which I’m renting. The right side of my garden I have my kitchen window and garden door. Now when I open my garden door I’ve got my neighbor’s garden door and what separates us is literally one meter ground and one meter high concrete fence. Basically when I open my door he’s literally in my face. He can see everything from my kitchen window. I find it very frustrating as I feel I don’t have privacy at all.. can’t even leave the garden door open in this hot weather as I can see him poking inside. I’ve put a 6 ft plastic garden wardrobe by my kitchen window to block a bit the view and he complains that I block his light and that I’m gonna ruin the wall with damp which is nonsense. All of this so he can keep looking. My daughter is a teenager now and wants to sunbath in the garden but he keeps going out annoying her and feels intimidated. So I asked my landlord if I can make a fence with my own expense to have more privacy and he said by all means do what you like your side of the fence is yours. Can he cause me trouble by law if I attach wooden fence on my side of the wall of course not more then 6 feet tall. I have to state that there is no way I will be blocking the light cause the sun rises from the end of the garden not from the side and on top of my kitchen there is a bedroom and an attic so there is no way my fence will be blocking any light more then it already is. I really need privacy cause he is getting on my nerves.
Jen - 29-May-20 @ 11:19 PM
I live in a detached house which I’m renting. The right side of my garden I have my kitchen window and garden door. Now when I open my garden door I’ve got my neighbor’s garden door and what separates us is literally one meter ground and one meter high concrete fence. Basically when I open my door he’s literally in my face. He can see everything from my kitchen window. I find it very frustrating as I feel I don’t have privacy at all.. can’t even leave the garden door open in this hot weather as I can see him poking inside. I’ve put a 6 ft plastic garden wardrobe by my kitchen window to block a bit the view and he complains that I block his light and that I’m gonna ruin the wall with damp which is nonsense. All of this so he can keep looking. My daughter is a teenager now and wants to sunbath in the garden but he keeps going out annoying her and feels intimidated. So I asked my landlord if I can make a fence with my own expense to have more privacy and he said by all means do what you like your side of the fence is yours. Can he cause me trouble by law if I attach wooden fence on my side of the wall of course not more then 6 feet tall. I have to state that there is no way I will be blocking the light cause the sun rises from the end of the garden not from the side and on top of my kitchen there is a bedroom and an attic so there is no way my fence will be blocking any light more then it already is. I really need privacy cause he is getting on my nerves.
Jen - 29-May-20 @ 11:18 PM
Hi my took the wire fencing off with out my consent n she had wooden fence n has come over my land n now i have told her ahe agreed she has come over the line and when i said i wil be have new fencing done n wil put it right she is saying i cant do it is there anything i can do please
Ruhela - 29-May-20 @ 10:15 PM
We moved in in 1995. One neighbour had problem on both sides. constant harassment false reporting to the council /police - Council and police had to go away as it was false anyway. Dogs without leash fowling the lawn and we live in reasonably well to do area. The fence was put by the neighbour in 1995 [25 years ago]and now she is claiming the land on my side. In Nov. we replaced the fence I paid for it .Suddenly she is bare sake, removed the fence put on my side replaced the fence but taking 2 ft of my land. Police soy it is civil matter. Council does not want to know and it is nightmare. I am 75 live on my own with heart attack and sleepless. Land registry plans show she has no right on my side of the land. [she had also extended her garden at the back nearly 20 ft in woodlands and was accusing me gaining the land- which is not true. Stole my plants and stuff from garden when I was working. End of tether Now I had to get my solicitor involved. worried about the expenses. Two letters from the solicitor-but doe not give fig. any advice. I don't like altercation
Michi - 22-May-20 @ 10:43 PM
I need to replace a wall in my garden that is falling down and because of cost i have decided to replace it with a fence. I would like to put up a 6ft fence on my side but my neighbours garden drops by 3ft on the other side. Am i allowed to do this or does it have to be 6ft to them?
jls - 18-May-20 @ 6:40 PM
Hi there. Our new neighbour who moved in not long ago, removed his boundry fence facing the back alley which runs along 3 terraced houses. They all have a fence and gate towards the alleyway. So our neighbour, to make his garden bigger, removed his fence and put a bolted gate into the alleyway as his new protection gate. As we the end terraced, we have a right of way but the alleyway belongs to the other 3 houses. Since the built of these houses, all houses have a fence and gate, keeping the alleyway private. Now by removing their fence, we have to cross over their garden which is uncomfortable as they are very nosy and very rude people. Are they allowed to take it down even if in the deeds it states they have to maintain it?
Rosie - 8-May-20 @ 11:01 PM
Hi My brother is concerned about his next door neighbour who is going to extend his decking right up to my brothers boundary fence and has already had a load of decking delivered and plenty of cement and at present their decking is quite largeand my neighbour and his neighbour attached to the same house is a bouncer and they are conspiring together and talking about extending their decking right up to my brothers boundary fence and they are already looking over at him from where the decking is now and when they are looking over now you can see the top half of them and to their waists when they are peering over the fence looking at his garden and him to, so is there a law against neighbours like this, the neighbours garden is on a higher level than my brothers aswell so can someone advise me on this matter please.
Terry - 25-Apr-20 @ 3:27 PM
Hi l am looking for some advise for my Friend, their neighbour purchased their house about 1-2 year ago and the back garden fence posts and fencing is in his garden and he has tried speaking to the neighbour about moving the fence but the neighbour has said that they are no moving it and basically the fence will be staying where it is, how can my friend resolve this or can he remove the fence as this is in his garden and on his boundary
jules - 20-Apr-20 @ 9:45 AM
Our neighbours have replaced some fencing as its their border.However, they have put the bestside to themselves (facing inwards) I thought if it was their border they should put the fence facing outwards so the I get the best side.Then each neighbour has a best side and their own border side. So I have a good side from my neighbour but the I have to put my border fencing facing outwards. The thing that annoys me is Ive done right by my neighbours and the next door but 1 has done the right thing so the middle neighbour has ended up with two best sides and ive got 2 inward sides. On top of that they have added extra posts so I have 11 posts on 1 side whereas before there was only 5. Is there any law about this.I thought the whole purpose of facing your fencing outwards shows its your border.Any advice would be much appreciated.I have spoken to them and they said the posts are theirs so I can not touch them even if they are on my side because they are on the boundary line.
Vinny - 14-Apr-20 @ 1:38 PM
When we purchased our house there was no boundary fence between myself & my next door neighbours, they have erected a fence which gives a gap of 35.5 inches between my front entrance & the boundary fence. Is this a legal. As it limits our access considerably.
Moo - 10-Apr-20 @ 5:38 PM
My neighbour died about 3 years ago and I do not have contacts of his representatives. During the recent storms the fence surrounding his land and shared parking area has blown down. I have checked my deeds and I believe the fence is not my responsibility. I have posted a note through the door but there has not been any action taken. What do I do now?
Di - 19-Mar-20 @ 2:42 PM
I shared the cost of the boundary fence on my neighbour's boundary as he told me that it was a shared boundary. I later found out there are 'T' marks on his deeds so it should have been purely his boundary. He has had his garden landscaped and many trees and shrubs planted. They are all wired back to the shared fencing arris rails. He has pyracantha that is roughly four metres high also attached to the fencing. I wrote to him two years ago asking him to remove all the attachments as the trees and shrubs could damage the fencing. He ignored my request.During the January gales this year one of the concrete posts has been pulled over by half a metre and cracked that post and another one near ground level. Is my neighbour responsible for the damage which can be seen from my side but not his as his tall pyracantha is covering it?
geco - 15-Mar-20 @ 12:22 PM
Hello.I’d be grateful for any advice. I was attempting to trim my hedge today when my neighbour demanded that I stop and has claimed that the hedge is now legally half theirs. The hedge does not show on the land registry but the name of my house does appear on the name of their garden. They have never previously maintained the hedge. Because we are now on the market to sell, the neighbour gleefully told me that they have put in a dispute to prevent me selling and also claim that they want the hedge to grow nice and high, despite flaying the hedge far too far back only 4/5 months ago. The hedge that they claim is now only self seeded Ash trees that aren’t part of the hedge. Can anyone provide any advice please?
Veebs - 9-Mar-20 @ 6:55 PM
Our neighbours have replaced some fencing as its their border.However, they have put the bestside to themselves (facing inwards) I thought if it was their border they should put the fence facing outwards so the I get the best side.Then each neighbour has a best side and their own border side. So I have a good side from my neighbour but the I have to put my border fencing facing outwards. The thing that annoys me is Ive done right by my neighbours and the next door but 1 has done the right thing so the middle neighbour has ended up with two best sides and ive got 2 inward sides.Is there any law about this.I thought the whole purpose of facing your fencing outwards shows its your border.Any advice would be much appreciated.Sorry if ive babbled but sue you will get my drift
Lainey - 23-Feb-20 @ 8:07 AM
I live in a detatched bungalow the boundary of which is to the north -at the back with a high hedge of conifers bordering the cricket club, and the west which is mostly panel fencing.I have maintained these two borders at not insignificant cost for the past 13 years.my neighbour on the other side -whom I get on well with, has a large hedge, 16 feet high which she had never cut.At the back she had a row of 6ft fence panels. I asked if I could cut the hedge at the front she said fine -even recommended someone. Then in the recent storm all her fence panels blew down.I went to tell her and ask if the guy who was going to ment MYfence panels on my side, could give her a quote. She insisted it wasn't her fence and that the previous owner had put up both the fence (with the posts on her side) and also had planted the hedge (whose roots are in her garden, bordering my tar mac drive) Ihave now cut 8 feet off the hedge and paid £250, repaired my fence -for £120, but am I also now responsible for removing her broken fence and building another one? I did get my solicitor to send me a copy of my lease, with my boundary, west and south, outlined in red and gave it to her -but only now does she tell me the previous owner built and planted all her fencing.Where do I stand?
Mc Call - 22-Feb-20 @ 5:04 PM
The fence at the rear of my garden belongs to the neighbouring property to rear. Neighbour recently removed ivy from top which has revealed a row of concrete posts of the type through which was originally passed a wire probably to secure a chain link fence between us. Currently there is a wooden feathered type fence which is secured to the posts by strapping the wooden cross members to the face of the concrete posts on what appears to be on my side which means the fence is approximately 3 inches on my side. Am I correct in thinking that the face of the concrete posts represents the boundary and that anything attached is on my property. The fence was in place when I purchased my house some 30 years ago and I know that my neighbour did not erect the fence as he moved in not long after me, so does the 12 year rule come into play when I could not see the posts because they are completely covered and I would have had to lean over the fence which is approximately 6ft. 6inches high?
Mal - 22-Feb-20 @ 12:50 PM
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