I want to repair my fence, my neighbours want to replace it – do I have to?
FALLING out with neighbours in a fence row is all too common – and one disgruntled homeowner is seeking advice for just that.
When it comes to property boundaries and repairing or replacing them, it pays to know where you stand.
One homeowner found themselves asking who's responsible for their 10-year-old back fence.
In a Reddit forum, they explain that the current fence is constructed of six by six foot wooden panels and wooden posts – which they estimate will last another five to 10 years.
They add that the panel battens are rotting in places, but state they have patched them up on their side.
However, the neighbours believe that the whole fence needs replacing, and are asking the Redditor to go halves with them on the costs.
The user added: "They want to replace the whole fence with concrete posts and new wooden panels, so it matches their side fence and looks nice.
"I'm on a budget thanks to Covid, and would rather repair than replace. I don’t care if it looks patchy in places – they just have cash to burn."
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Who is responsible for the fence?
Before any action is taken, whether it be repairs or entirely replacing a wall, hedge, or fence, liability for the boundary must be established.
A common fence myth is that each property is responsible for its left hand boundary, which is not the case.
To determine who is in charge of what, you'll need to check your property deeds.
If you don't already have these, you can purchase them from the Land Registry using the government's website.
Note that you can buy title deeds to any property, not just your own – so it may be worth grabbing your neighbour's deeds too to see if any additional information is outlined.
Look out for any T's marked on the deeds, as these often denote which side is responsible for the boundary.
Are you obliged to replace a fence?
If you find that the fence falls within your neighbour's remit, it's worth pointing this out to them in a friendly conversation to avoid confrontation.
And though they may ask you to split the cost of the boundary repairs or replacement, you are not obliged to do so.
Similarly, if the fence falls within your property limits, it is yours to do what you please with.
According to property experts, HomeOwners Alliance, there is no legal requirement for the owner to maintain the fence unless specified to do so in the property deeds.
The only exception to this is if the boundary is posing a safety threat, in which case the responsible party is required to fix the issue.
If you wind up in a spat over these rules, it's worth trying to iron out any dispute amongst yourselves without involving the council or courts.
Doing so may rack up considerably high fees, and there are other routes to go down before this.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) offers a mediation service to neighbours for a fee, which is a good place to start if you find you can't agree.
One Brit painted their side of the fence and was threatened with police action by their neighbour as a consequence.
And this isn't the only Brit tangled up in a fence feud – one homeowner came back from their holiday to find their neighbour erected a fence.
Meanwhile, Storm Eunice stirred up fence fights for many other Brits.
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