Homeowners across the UK are cleaning up after days of severe storms that have caused millions of pounds worth of damage.
One of the most common types of damage seen to homes is to fences and boundary walls – with high winds often pulling up panels or posts or bringing down whole structures.
As the fences lie between your property and your neighbour’s, it can be difficult to tell who is responsible for the fence and who should put the damage right.
One of the common misconceptions is that, looking from your house, the fence on the right belongs to you.
Experts at Jackson’s fencing say this is not the case, adding: “Contrary to common belief, there is not a designated side of the fence to each property.
“The only way to know for certain who owns what side, is to refer to the Title Plan or country registry.
“In this, the T mark is used to indicate who the boundary belongs to and therefore who is responsible for its upkeep.
“There is currently no obligation for boundary ownership to be clarified in title deeds across England and Wales, with rules differing in Scotland and Ireland. Therefore, in some cases not all boundaries will have been specified.
“In this case, you will need to either conduct further research into the Registry of Deeds or reach a boundary agreement with your neighbors.”
Without looking at the dees, there are some clues – they add: “Typically, you can guess who owns a fence by seeing where the rails are, with the fence typically facing away from their property so that their neighbor gets the ‘good’ side of the fence. This is the most secure way of facing fencing so there are no rails for anyone to use to climb into your garden. This is then repeated with the neighbor on the other side to ensure that each home has both a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fence side. This isn’t always the case however so always good to check legal documents.”
To further complicate matters fences and walls can be co-owned, with both neighbors having responsibility for maintenance.
According to AXA Insurance, a ‘T’ mark on one side of the boundary indicates that the person on that side is responsible for the fence.
If a ‘T’ is marked on both sides, responsibility is shared between both neighbours.
This is known as a party boundary.
One of the main issues with title plans is that there is sometimes no ‘T’ mark at all.
When this is the case, you will need to find out whether there is assumed responsibility for the boundary.
Assuming responsibility occurs when either you or your neighbor take charge of placing and maintaining the fence on your own accord.
However, if both parties have been maintaining the fence, responsibility should continue to be shared.
Ian Aitch at Rated People said: “Contrary to popular belief, there’s no rule that says the fences on the left side of your home belong to you.. The transfer or conveyance deed might state who owns it, but if it’s not in writing, then look out for any T-mark to the boundaries.
“The stalk of the ‘T’ will sit on the boundary and come out into your garden or property, which means that fence is your responsibility. If responsibility for the boundary is shared, like in the case of a party fence wall, for instance , then a H-mark (two T-marks mirrored on the boundary line) is the symbol conventionally used and it’ll indicate that any repair bills should be split 50/50.
“If the deeds don’t make it clear who owns a fence, then you may need to dig out the Seller’s Property Information Form which you can find at https://www.lawsociety.org.uk.
“It’s sometimes possible to establish who’s responsible for a fence by working out who owns which fence along the same side of the street.”
He added: “There’s no law which says your neighbor has to repair their fence, even if it’s rotting away and making the side of your property look bad.
“While you could opt for a boundary demarcation and hire a disputes expert to write a report, you could end up wasting your money as it’s unlikely they’d change their mind.
“What you could do instead is leave the old fence where it is and erect another one right next to it. The boundary would then be a thin line that runs between the two fences, even if they’re touching each other.”