Is that really your garden fence that you thought was yours?
A garden fence is, on the surface of things, a simple concept. It is the line which marks the end of one property’s outdoor space and the beginning of the neighbouring property’s. In reality this is sometimes a far less simple concept, as many people within the UK have found out. There are a number of instances in which people have assumed a particular garden fence is their own when in actual fact it is entirely or partial the property of their neighbours. This article will explore the various situations surrounding the ownership of fencing in Edinburgh and a few occurrences where the question of ownership may prove particularly relevant.
There are some situations where the ownership of a garden fence may be reasonably clear cut. The most common of these is when both properties that are located next to each other are owned by their current occupants. In addition to this ownership there is a separate fencing area on either boundary of the property. For example, there is a white wooden fence backing directly onto a dark wooden fence. It is likely that the fences belong to the owners of the properties’ boundaries they are marking. In a situation such as this, making changes to the fence is usually as simple as the owners’ confirming the fence ownership situation and confirming with one another they are happy for the changes to take place.
One situation which may, on the surface, seem as clear cut as the aforementioned scenario, but in reality is far from it, is if the conjoining gardens are belonging to occupants who are renting their home. This may be the case in either one or both of the properties. In this case there is a separate unit of fencing at the boundary of each occupant’s property but it is likely the landlord or company the property is being rented from is the legal owner of the fence. Whether any changes can be made to fencing in this scenario will depend on the particular rental agreement that is governing the property. In some instances the tenant may be able to make changes to the fencing after seeking the landlord’s permission. In other cases the tenant may be able to make changes without receiving explicit permission so long as the changes they make are of an equal or superior quality to the original fence.
A scenario where the ownership of fencing becomes far more confusing and problematic to deal with arises when the fence separating the outdoor area of two properties is a single rather than separate unit of fencing. To illustrate this concept, imagine a single piece of fencing that is separating the properties of two different houses. In this instance, one of the particular house owners may be able to prove that they have purchased the fence and can therefore replace or remove it as they see fit. In other instances it may be that both home owners have installed the fence and therefore both have a right to influence what happens with it. In either instance it is wise to always discuss any planned changes with your neighbour regardless of your legal right. This fosters goodwill and a sense of neighbourly decency.