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Which side of the fence is mine?

Jonathan Leggett
Written by  Jonathan Leggett
Alicia Hempsted
Reviewed by  Alicia Hempsted
5 min read
Updated: 27 Feb 2024

Disputes over fence damage are common. Read on and we’ll explain how to check who’s responsible and who’ll foot the bill.

Which fence is mine?

Picture the scene: the fence that divides your garden from your neighbour's patch has blown down in a storm. It’ll need to be repaired, one way or another. But with whom does the responsibility lie?

Usually, the simplest way to find out is to dig out the title plans for your home. Once you’ve got them, check to see the boundaries of your property.

You should be able to tell if the fence is your property by looking for a ‘T’-shaped symbol. This may show on one or both sides of the boundary.

If the ‘T’-shaped symbol is on your side of the boundary and yours alone, the fence is your responsibility.

However, if the ‘T’ symbol shows on both sides of the boundary you and your neighbour bear joint responsibility for repairs and upkeep of the fence.

In the event that you don’t have the title plans or title deeds anywhere to-hand or you’ve lost them, you can get fresh copies from the Land Registry.

It’s possible that the title plan or title deeds won’t show you the boundary information you’re looking for. In which case, your best bet is to see if you can find the seller’s property information form.

Alternatively, you may want to get in touch with your conveyancing solicitor who might have ascertained the answer from the seller when conducting checks.

garden fence damage

Can I work out who owns a fence by looking at it?

You may have been told that the fence for which you’re responsible always lies on the left hand side of your property, as you look at it from the street. Not so. That’s a common misconception.

However, you can make often an educated guess simply by appearances alone. Look out for the side on which the posts are located. In most instances, the posts will be on the fence owner’s side.

That said, to establish ownership with any real certainty you’re going to have to track down your title deeds/plans, or get in touch with the conveyancing solicitor you used.

Am I responsible for maintaining my garden fence?

That depends on your responsibilities as outlined in the deeds and legal documents for your home.

If you are responsible for a fence and damage has rendered it dangerous, there’s a possibility your neighbour could pursue legal action.

Who has to pay for damaged fences?

In the event of damage caused by bad weather or wear and tear over time, the owner of the fence is responsible for paying for repairs and maintenance.

However, if the damage has occurred as a result of your neighbour’s actions, they should pay for the repairs.

Locked in a dispute over damage to your property? Read our one-stop guide what you can do if a neighbour damages your property.

Does home insurance cover fence damage and repairs?

It should, but it depends on your policy. On paper, your buildings insurance policy, which comes under the umbrella of home insurance, will cover structures that lie within the boundaries of your home, including sheds, gates and fences.

But that’s not to say that all policies will necessarily cover you for all types of fence damage. That means you’ll need to check the small print for policy exclusions.

It’s not uncommon for policies to exclude storm damage caused by a tree falling on a fence. Conversely, fences are usually covered for damage caused by fire or vandalism.

Is my neighbour obliged to repair their fence?

Legally, there’s no obligation for your neighbour to fix or replace a fence – except when the damage represents a safety risk.

Circumstances that fall into this category include if the broken fence allows access to railways or a building site.

However, if a fence is just ‘unsightly’ there’s not much you can do, apart from speak to your neighbour or erect a fence of your own to cover the broken one.

It’s also worth noting that if a neighbour’s fence has fallen over so that it encroaches on your land and is damaging it, they’re obliged to remove it. But there’s no legal requirement that they erect a new one.

What if we can’t work out who’s responsible for a fence?

Even after referring to legal documents, you might not be able to discern for certain who, if anyone, is responsible for repair and maintenance of a fence. This is because there’s no legal requirement for this to be outlined in title deeds.

If you’ve checked your title deeds and title plan haven’t been able to establish where responsibility lies for repairs, you could try and work out an equitable arrangement with your neighbour by making a boundary agreement.

By doing so, you’ll be recording the boundaries between your properties, so it’s explicit to whom responsibility belongs for repairing fences.

Another option is to apply for determined boundary. This will cost you £90 and you’ll be liable for survey and solicitor fees too.

In return you’ll get a record of the precise boundary between your neighbour’s property. Find out more at GOV.UK.

What can I do if there’s a mistake on title plans?

If you think there’s an error on your title plan, you can make an application to get it amended.

You’ll have to write to the Land Registry to outline why you think there’s a mistake. It’s also incumbent on you to supply and supporting documents for evidence.

Will home insurance cover fences for subsidence?

Standard home insurance policies typically won’t cover damage to fences caused by subsidence.

Check the terms of your policy first, but in most instances you’ll need to sign up for additional cover.

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