Do you know your legal rights regarding fencing?
We are all accustomed with fences around the gardens of individual houses and around the fields. A wise house owner may choose to fence his land either to prevent his pet animals from straying or for the protection of his own children. But do you know your legal rights regarding fencing in Birmingham? It may come as a surprise find out that there is no obligation in law that requires to fence the boundaries of one’s land, however, there are certain legal rights regarding fencing that should be respected.
The only circumstances when the law requires to erect fences are erected are usually related to safety:
- around disused mines
- around building sites adjacent to highways
- alongside railways
- to prevent livestock from straying from their fields.
Also a transfer deed or a conveyance deed may include a covenant requiring the owner to fence the land and to forever maintain the fence.
In case that a dispute about the boundary between properties arises between neighbours, it will be necessary to establish who owns the disputed land. The legal documents must contain primary evidence about the ownership of the land. However, in certain circumstances the boundaries between properties may be different from those described in the lease or title documents. The most common situation when that is happening is in case that the boundaries have been changed by occupation without permission or by agreement. If you find that the boundaries are not correctly delimited in the lease or title documents, or that they have been changed, you will need legal advice from a solicitor.
Duty to erect a barrier
In general, as a property owner you do not have the duty to erect and maintain any type of barrier, such as a fence, trellis, railing, or wall around your property. The exceptions include situations when:
- the land is used for dangerous purposes, such as storing toxic chemicals
- the property is next to a street and may cause danger
- there is a clause in the lease or title documents
- a barrier is necessary to prevent animals from straying.
Who can use or repair a fence
Who can use and repair a fence depends on who owns it. Many people think that they own the boundary at the left and at the back of their garden, but this not always true.
In case that the fence belongs to one owner, the neighbour has no rights over the fence and the owner can use it without the neighbour’s consent. For example, the neighbour could not use the fence to support trailing plants without getting the owner’s permission first. In case that a fence is jointly owned, then each neighbour can use it and any repairs should be jointly financed.
In case that you have a fence next to the street you have the obligation to keep it in good shape, in order to prevent danger to people using the street. If someone is injured by the fence you may be taken to the court for compensation.
Planning restrictions on fences
In general, you do not need planning permission before erecting a wall or fence, provided it is no more than two metres in height or just one metres in height if next to a highway.