With the country being battered by storms, boundaries, trees and fences are taking a beating. If yours is one of the fences that has been, or is about to be, damaged by Ciara or the oncoming Dennis, it is important that you know your rights and responsibilities.
It isn’t always clear who is responsible for fencing, and often homeowners don’t even consider the issue, until the fence becomes damaged or needs to be replaced. We take a look at what the law says about boundaries.
Dispel the myths
The notion that all properties are responsible for the fence on their left is a sensible idea, but it is sadly a myth. There are no rules regarding boundaries, and the only way to know for sure is with a good look at the title deeds.
Check the deeds
Assuming that you are on good terms with your neighbours (and you are not arguing over who is responsible for a damaged fence), the quickest way to find out about boundary responsibilities is to ask them! If that’s not possible, your next port of call is to check the deeds. Until 2013, the title deeds were handed over with a property. However, if you bought a property after 2013, the deeds will be electronic. You can get a copy of your deeds from HM registry for under £30 – click here for more information about deeds.
Know your duties
If a fence, boundary wall, or hedge is yours, that doesn’t actually mean that you are legally obliged to maintain it. It just means that it is your liability. So, providing it doesn’t do any damage, to other property or people, you can do what you like with your property. Likewise, if a neighbour is liable for the boundary, they can let it fall down, legally, as long as it doesn’t cause damage.
When you are in the process of buying a house, you can avoid conflict by checking with your solicitor to see if there are any boundary issues. In England and Wales, there aren’t specific boundaries for properties, but the title deeds will usually indicate who has liability – one or both neighbours. If there is no indication, each neighbour is considered responsible for their side. So, theoretically, you could erect two fences or walls, one on each of your properties.
The best way to avoid conflict is to be fair, honest and clear with your neighbours. If you notice a damaged fence, be friendly and open and ask if they know who is responsible; you could agree to share any associated repair costs.
If you do need to repair your boundaries, find a trusted fence specialist on Trust A Trader. If you have dangerous branches hanging from trees, don’t risk further harm; get a tree surgeon to inspect the damage before it gets worse.