I have recently moved, and I'm not certain which fence is mine. According my immediate neighbours, I'm responsible for both sides, but that can't be right, can it?
ASK THE EXPERT
A. Obviously, the last thing you want to do is fall out with your new neighbours, not least because disagreements over boundaries can sometimes escalate into quite unpleasant and long-running disputes. Nevertheless, by the sound of it, one or other of them is wrong. Why do I suggest that? Well, for the simple reason that since you have neighbours on both sides of your property, that suggests that you live in the middle of a street, or a row of houses - and that being the case, it’s very unlikely indeed that you are responsible for both fences. Generally speaking, only those living at one end of the street or the other will have two fences to look after - depending on which end these things have been calculated from. So, for example, if everyone owns the fence to their left, then the person at the right-hand end of the street may also be responsible for the fence to their right!
Of course, the quickest, easiest and cheapest solution to this problem is simply to ask other people further up and down your street. Generally speaking, a pattern ought to emerge which will enable you to deduce which fence is yours.
As for establishing ownership more formally, theoretically this can be done by looking at the deeds to your property, or one of the related registration documents. Here, your first port of call – assuming you don’t have the deeds yourself - should be the Land Registry, which you can contact online at www.landregisteronline.gov.uk. If they have the information, you can download it for a nominal charge.
However, be prepared for the fact that the Land Registry may not be able to help. There is always the chance – particularly in the case of older properties - that there is no record of boundary ownership in the deeds or any of the other documentation.
Should this turn out to be the case, then it’s possible that your only option is to come to an agreement with your neighbours – hopefully an amicable one!