Whose fence is whose? and other FAQ’s on fencing

Whose fence is whose? Who is responsible?

And other Frequently asked Questions.

  • There is no general obligation in law to fence the boundaries of one’s land.
  • Most of us do have fencing around our boundaries and it raises questions on upkeep, height, style and painting. We have tried to answer the frequently asked questions below.

Neighbours fence rotting away? They wont repair it?

Picket style fence


You cannot force your neighbour to repair their fence. As previously stated they don’t have to fence their boundaries. There are a couple of options. Either watch the fence rot away and do nothing, or, erect your own fence on the boundary of your land next to the existing fence. The boundary line will sit between the 2 fences even if they are touching. The fence is then on your land and is your responsibility to up keep.

What is the highest fence I can put around my property?

Fencing height comes down to the local planning policy. To find out the height that you can go to, contact your local authority. As a general rule fences in rear gardens are allowed to be up to 2 metres and 1m high where they meet the footpath, however this can alter in different areas.

Is it true that each property owns the fence on the left as you look at it from the street?

Feather edge with concrete

There is no general rule as to who owns which fence. It all comes down to the way the land and boundary lines were split by the vendor when the properties were built. Each boundary should be shown in the deeds of the property as to who owns which fence. To find out which fences you are responsible for, look at the deeds of your property and see how they were allocated. In some cases the vendor has not shown on the deeds the allocation of the boundary lines. In this case you would need to take a look at the Seller’s Property Information Form, where the information would have given the information when you bought the property.

Does the ‘good side’ of the fence have to face my neighbour?

Feather edge with concrete


The answer is no. If you are responsible for that fence you may choose whichever style, colour and side you wish to have. There is no law that states that the ‘good side’ has to face your neighbour.  If your fence faces out into the street or alleyway you may wish to have the battens along the back facing into your property to prevent people from using them to climb over into your property, but that is entirely your choice.

Can I paint or hang plants on my neighbours fence?

Only if you have permission. Your neighbour must decide if you can paint the side facing your property. Your neighbour may not want you hanging things from their fence. You can plant free standing plants and shrubs next to your neighbours fence or erect your own fence adjacent to theirs on your side of the boundary (the boundary will run between the 2 fences even if they are touching).

Also, unless your neighbour agrees, you cannot fix boards / panels or trellis to their fence in order to support plants or to conceal the fence.

Anything you do to your neighbours fence without their permission (as stated above) can account to criminal damage.

If branches have grown over from a tree within your neighbours garden, you may trim back the branches overhanging in your garden to the fence line and then offer the cuttings back. But do not throw the cuttings / branches over into your neighbours garden as this is a trespass.

You must dispose of the branches / cuttings yourself if your neighbour declines to take these back.

Can I make my neighbour change the height of their fence?

Picket style fence

Whether your garden looks dark due to the height of your neighbours fence, or you feel you have no privacy due to it being quite low, there is not a lot you can do. As long as your neighbours fence is within height regulations from the ground on their side of the fence, they don’t have to reduce the height. If their fence is so low that you feel you have lost your privacy, you can place a higher fence on your side of the boundary as long as it falls under height restrictions, or plant a free standing shrub or hedge on your boundary to give back privacy. This Must not be attached to your neighbours fence.