Q&As

What common law rules apply to party or mesne fences, given they are not covered under the Party Wall etc Act 1996? Deeds often state that maintenance and repair is the joint responsibility of both owners, but what steps are required if a dispute arises as to whether the fence should be changed in any manner?

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Published on LexisPSL on 10/06/2020

The following Property Disputes Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What common law rules apply to party or mesne fences, given they are not covered under the Party Wall etc Act 1996? Deeds often state that maintenance and repair is the joint responsibility of both owners, but what steps are required if a dispute arises as to whether the fence should be changed in any manner?

What common law rules apply to party or mesne fences, given they are not covered under the Party Wall etc Act 1996? Deeds often state that maintenance and repair is the joint responsibility of both owners, but what steps are required if a dispute arises as to whether the fence should be changed in any manner?

This question raises the issue of the rights adjoining owners owe one another where a fence separates their lands.

The location of boundaries on the plans filed at HM Land Registry are ‘general boundaries’ which do not determine their exact line (sections 60(1)–(2) of the Land Registration Act 2002 (LRA 2002)). Disputes can quickly arise therefore as to where a fence should be and who owns it. There is often felt to be a presumption that the posts from which a fence is hung are situated on the land of the person who owns the fence with the result that they own the fence as well. It will often be a strong presumption, but a court may well have regard to other evidence when trying to determine who owns the fence.

As the question suggests, certain fences do not fall within the ambit of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 (PWA 1996). One needs first to identify which ones do. The definition of ‘party fence wall’ is cumbersome: a wall (not

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