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Responsibility for Fences

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  • 24-04-2019
Responsibility for Fences

A fence is a permanent structure that surrounds premises and offers security and protection for those within. There are no stipulated laws that demand that it is compulsory for one to surround their premises with a fence. If you have purchased a property with existing fences, the conveyance deed may include a specific agreement requiring the purchaser of the land and property to maintain the fence.

Why it is necessary to erect a fence?

  • Defining property boundaries: a fence will assist in establishing borders of your premises.
  • Decorative purposes: to decorate the area around your premises. Some fences have beautiful and unique designs to increase the appeal of your property.
  • Security: fencing is the best way to keep away intruders from accessing the property, as well as stop children and pets from escaping the property.
  • Added privacy: fences also add privacy to your home in a significant way, particularly if your home is set close to the street, so passerbys can easily look into your home.
tall timber fence
farm animals behind metal fence

Nevertheless, the law clearly states that some specific areas should be well-fenced due to the danger they pose to the surrounding communities. Such areas include:

  • Along railway lines: Railway Consolidations Act 1845 demands that areas alongside the railways should have permanent fences. 
  • Around mines and quarries: Mines and Quarries Act 1954 clearly states that mines and quarries should be surrounded by mine to ensure the safety of the surrounding people and animals.
  • Buildings that are near highways, roads and path: Highways Act 1950 is very definite on the need to build a fence on buildings near any form of transportation.
  • Livestock habitats: Animals Act 1971 makes it apparent that you should fence around your premises to prevent livestock from straying from their fields.

Can you demand that your neighbour repair their fence?

If the fence is entirely on their property, you must respect their decision as they are not bound by the law to maintain their property. The only exception where the law can step in is if they have livestock; only then is it their responsibility to maintain a reasonable enclosure for their animals. If you are worried about your safety, you can reinforce the fence on your property, but take care not to pass the border and enter the other person's property as this may result in conflict. Ensure you will leave a small gap near the edge or depending on how you agree with your neighbour.

Who is responsible for the fence?

A conveyance deed may stipulate who the owner of the fence is. Some title deeds also include the wall and defines the party responsible for its maintenance. However, if the title does not clearly define who is the owner of the fence, you may have to rely on the seller's information about the wall, especially if the wall is at the centre, as it may be unclear who is responsible for maintaining the wall. Both parties should consult the seller of the property and reach a conclusive agreement. 

Get in touch with our RICS chartered surveyor today to discuss identifying your boundary line.