Who owns fence?

14 Nov 2005
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United Kingdom
Long time ago a neighbour replaced the fence between me and him with a six foot fence. He paid for this. However, the existing fence and boundary is mine, he has installed new fence along existing boundary line by removing the existing old fence. Not a problem as looked lovely. Now, house sold couple of years ago and new neighbour and I got talking and he said the fence is his. I told him it was my boundary and the old owner had replaced it on the original boundary line. I also said that if the fence needed work or replacing it is my responsibility as it's my boundary. Neighbour says it's his fence, l said I don't care whose fence it is, it's my boundary therefore my responsibility. My question is, who owns the fence as it's my boundary marking?
Thanks in advance.
Jack C
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Fence should be on your deeds, and his deeds. Dig yours out and take a look.
Maybe estate agent told him it was his fence - I know from experience that some estate agents will just tell you what you want to hear, if you look at and question a fence, they will say its yours so you think you can do something about it.
Many years ago, (20+), when I bought my first garden house I was told the support posts are on the neighbours side so the fence was mine, after all, who would erect a fence and have the good side showing to the neighbours?
A few years after moving in the fence was damaged in high winds so I asked neighbours on both sides if they wanted to help with replacement costs. Both declined so I paid for the whole lot and lodged a letter, co-signed by both sets of neighbours, that I had paid for and erected the whole garden fence and therefore claimed it as my property. Saved a whole lot of hassle when I sold up years later.
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It used to be normal for the posts to be on the owner's side, but it's never been a reliable indication.

To establish ownership of the fence, it doesn't matter who is responsible for maintaining the boundary. More relevant is whose land the fence is on, ie which side of the boundary (a boundary is a line with no width - you can't own a boundary). Unfortunately it's often not possible to establish a boundary with that amount of precision. Unless the fence is very obviously on your side of the boundary, I'd say that since your neighbour's predecessor paid for it, your neighbour is reasonably entitled to say it's his.
There's a good website (think it's gardenlaw or similar).

Basically a boundary is just that. It's a pencil-thin line. You could mark it out with string. Maintaining the boundary can be done with anything - chicken wire, fence, wickets driven into the ground. Doesn't matter unless there are dogs involved (in which dog owner has the responsibility of keeping dogs out of neighbours' gardens).

Fences are typically installed either on your land (in which case you own it), your neighbour's land (in which case neighbour owns it), or it sits on the boundary (in which case, it belongs either to whoever paid for it (eg if you installed it), 50:50, or whatever). Title deeds might show who is responsible for maintaining the boundary (and hence the fence) but not always.

If you want to waste some money, you can hire surveyors etc who will tell you where the boundary lies (I gather there's a variability of 40cm), or you can accept that neighbour paid for it and therefore it's neighbour's responsibility to maintain. If you want, you can offer to pay half the cost for "joint ownership".
There's a good website (think it's gardenlaw or similar)
https://www.gardenlaw.co.uk is full of stuff like this.

I don't actually see a problem here. The fence was paid for by the neighbour's predecessor, the neighbour thinks it's his fence, therefore all you've "lost" is the need to maintain a fence. You also have the opportunity not to fall out with the neighbour :)

Unless there's a clear indication on the deeds, responsibility for boundaries can chop and change on a whim, in any case. My neighbour on one side is convinced that he is responsible for none of his boundaries, which can't be right but no-one can prove otherwise. When we almost moved a few years ago, I discussed with the neighbours on the other side whether they would prefer I said a hedge we had planted together belonged to our house or theirs.

It all seems pretty academic when (a) anyone can erect a fence (or grow a hedge) on their own land, and (b) there is no obligation to erect one in any case.

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