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Garden Fences - What You Need to Know


Our property boundaries and fences are, for most of us, the first line of defence against unwanted intruders. To keep people and animals out we might want to erect higher fences, heighten existing fencing or maybe install anti-climb devices. Garden fences are a well known cause of disputes between neighbours so in this post we aim to clarify the UK laws regarding garden fencing and provide some guidance that will hopefully help maintain good neighbourly relations.

It should be noted that while we work hard to ensure the information we provide is accurate, we are not legal experts and if you are currently involved in a dispute then you may need to seek appropriate legal guidance. But before you do that we recommend you endeavour to resolve issues amicably by communicating with your neighbours. Also, as is noted in this post, pay attention to your property deeds and contact your local council planning department to get clarification of any policies that may be in place where you live.

Fence Ownership - Which is Mine?

There is no strict UK law regarding the ownership of a boundary between two properties. If you are lucky then your property title deeds will clearly define an already established boundary agreement regarding which fences you are responsible for. But often, this doesn’t exist. In which case there may be an historic, unwritten agreement regarding fence ownership and responsibility.

As previously noted, the best course of action to establish who is responsible for a boundary fence is to communicate with your neighbours and aim to get something agreed. It’s always better to agree a solution and possibly achieve a compromise that you can all live with. Ideally, speak to your neighbours or communicate via other means and make note of everything that’s discussed and agreed between you.

garden fence
Garden Fencing

 If you own a fence then responsibility for maintenance falls to you. It’s essential that fencing is maintained to ensure safety. But what can you do if a neighbour is failing to maintain a boundary fence which they own? Ideally, friendly communication should prompt them to fix the unsafe fencing. But if this approach doesn’t work the only option you might have is to report the fencing as a dangerous structure. Another option would be to erect your own fence, entirely on your property, alongside the existing, unsafe fencing. This would potentially provide the safety you might need in your garden by screening off the unsafe fencing that your neighbour is failing to maintain.

It’s also important to note that you are not permitted to make changes to a fence that’s owned by your neighbour without their permission, and this includes painting or treating your side of the fence. This is an example of why its important to establish friendly communications with your neighbours to get clarification over who is looking after the fence on both sides.

Is Fencing Compulsory?

There are no obligations, in UK law, for property boundaries to be fenced in. But there are some circumstances in which appropriate safety barriers and fences are erected. These include:

  • Alongside railways
  • Around building sites adjacent to both roads and pathways.
  • Around disused mines.
  • To keep livestock in fields.

It should be noted that property deeds may include a covenant defining property boundary obligations so its worth checking.

What’s the Maximum Height of a Garden Fence?

The maximum allowed height of garden fencing is often a cause of uncertainty and confusion. People sometimes want to raise the height of fencing to enhance property security and privacy. So how high can you go?

The general rule, for fencing that is not alongside a road, is a maximum height of 2 metres, including trellis or anything else that’s mounted on top. If the fencing is alongside a road, typically in a front garden, then the maximum height is just 1 metre.

When considering a fence installation or heightening existing fencing it’s always a good idea to get in touch with your local council planning department to verify that your plans are permitted.

fence top spikes
Garden Fence with Anti Climb Spikes

 Is Planning Permission Required to Erect a Fence?

As a general rule, for most everyday fencing installations, no planning permission is required. And if you are replacing existing fencing and fence posts on land that you own then planning permission is generally not required. But, if your property is in a Conservation Area or is a listed building then permission to make the proposed changes will be needed.

Also, if you want to install fencing that exceeds the 2 metre or 1 metre height restrictions then you must seek planning permission before commencing work. It’s worth noting that your local council can issue enforcement notices requiring the removal or amendment of a non-compliant fencing installation up to 4 years after the erection was put in place.

anti climb roller barrier
Parkside Fencing with Anti Climb Roller Barrier

How Can I Keep Intruders Out of My Garden?

The installation of anti-climb barriers along fence-tops both deters and prevents all but the most determined intruders from entering your garden. If animals (e.g. cats or foxes) are problem then plastic fence-top spikes are a very effective solution. And if you need to safely prevent human intruders then our Roller Barrier non-aggressive anti-climb system will keep them out.

If you need help with any aspects of perimeter security and anti climb precautions please give us a call on 01273 475500. We are always happy to help.

This message was added on Friday 12th February 2021


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