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Can I move my Boundary Fence?

Apr 29, 2022

In today’s property surveying blog post topic we are going to be talking about boundary surveying and in particular, if an owner is able to move the boundary fence that separates their garden from an adjoining property.

This is by far one of the most common questions that we find ourselves asked here at Stokemont, and is usually by a property owner who is planning on undertaking landscaping or upgrade to their garden.

Recent storms have seen a vast number of garden fences being blown down or damaged, requiring replacement, repair, or upgrade.

When this type of issue arises, first and foremost, the owner undertaking the work will want to ensure they are erecting and constructing the fence in the correct place, and on the correct plane.

Importantly, they will also want to ensure that the true boundary line and property separation is indeed honoured with the construction of the new fence.

First and foremost, It is worth noting that an owner does have a legal right to upgrade and replenish fencing as and when they choose.  However, prior to doing this it would be sensible to check the Land Registry maps and Registry Title Deeds to see if there is any input, comment or potentially “T” marks setting out whom is responsible for the fence in the first instance.

A common misunderstanding that we hear a lot here at Stokemont, is that owners will be responsible for the left or the right side of the fence.  However, It is worth noting that with the majority of land and property stock being around the turn of the century, or 1930s, this rule of thumb often gets long lost over the virtue of time, and the passage of various owners/occupants of the property over time.

If you’re lucky enough to find that there are “T” marks on the Land Registry plans, it is a definitive and easy way to resolve the issue, as effectively, whichever direction the T points in, will mean that owner is legally responsible for the upkeep of the boundary line.  However, where there aren’t any T marks, or Land Registry Title Deed comments, the maintenance, upgrade and position of the fence will very much be governed by common law.

It is also not uncommon for fences to be built against one another.  This is usually as a result of one owner refusing to contribute towards a new fence, or alternatively, some form of minor dispute resulting between the two respective owners at the time of the new fence being installed.  Many owners will simply take the view that it is just easier to install a new fence against existing than go through the issues that surround boundary disputes.

If discussions do fail, and fences have to be replaced in both their material and location, then the only real option a property owner has is to get a boundary surveyor to undertake an assessment and inspection.  Following on from this, the boundary surveyor will prepare a comprehensive and thorough report which set out where the boundary line is, how the existing fence or separation interacts with that.  Importantly, it will also set out the position moving forward.

This input will ensure that the property owner undertaking the works is able to erect and install the fence in the correct position, without risk of suggested trespass, nuisance or future loss of land claims.

Boundary surveyors in fulfilling their duties and undertaking assessment will be looking at a vast array of information. 

This can include, however is not limited to:

  • Land Registry Title Deeds
  • Historic maps
  • OS maps (Ordinance Survey)
  • Planning Records
  • Geospatial software
  • Deeds of Variation
  • Google street view
  • Bing street map
  • Google Maps
  • Google Earth
  • Bing Bird’s Eye View
  • Bing Earth View
  • Historic photographs
  • Historic documents

These will all form part of a boundary surveyor’s desktop assessment, and will effectively work towards the boundary surveyor arriving at an informed position on exactly where the boundary line should be.

It is important to note that boundary disputes are incredibly common.  Therefore, if you do find yourself on the receiving end of one, don’t panic.

In the first instance, we would advise making a genuine and informed attempt to avoid dispute and issue with your neighbour.  In many cases, informed discussion can avoid the cost of a boundary surveyor’s input.  It can also go a long way to preserve the all important neighbourly relationship between owners.

If all else fails, and discussions aren’t fruitful, at that stage we would advise you seek the input of an experienced and competent boundary surveyor.

The boundary surveyor’s role will be to take an impartial and arm’s length perspective of the dispute in hand, working towards the goal of informing their client in a neutral way of exactly where the boundary line should be, and how the current boundary set up interacts with that.

Here at Stokemont, we undertake thousands of boundary surveys each and every year.  Over that time, we’ve dealt with the simple to the incredibly complex, the straight lines to the diagonal, the small plots to the large plots.

If you would like to discuss your boundary surveying matter with one of our boundary surveyors, give us a call today and we will be more than happy to assist and advise you.

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