When it comes to making changes to the exterior of your home or property, few things can be as seemingly straightforward yet potentially complex as erecting a new fence—especially when it involves placing a new fence in front of an existing neighbour's fence. Whether driven by the desire for more privacy, the need to improve aesthetics, or to simply mark the boundary more clearly, the question remains: Can you legally and ethically put a fence in front of your neighbour's fence?

This comprehensive blog post aims to unpack the layers of this question, offering insights into the legal, ethical, and practical considerations that homeowners should weigh before proceeding with such a project.

Understanding Legal Rights and Boundaries

Before considering the construction of a new fence in front of an existing one, the primary step is to understand the legalities involved. Property boundaries can be a complex issue, hinging on local laws, property deeds, and sometimes, historical usage.

1. Check Local Regulations

Planning permissions and local council regulations can vary significantly from one area to another. In many regions, the height of the fence and its proximity to public pathways and roads can be regulated. It’s essential to consult with your local council or planning authorities to verify what is permissible in your area.

2. Review Your Property Deed

Your property deed contains critical information regarding the boundaries of your property. Before considering any construction, it's vital to review this document to determine the exact limits of your land. Erecting a fence beyond your legal boundary is a surefire way to run into disputes and possible legal challenges.

3. Neighbourly Etiquette and Dispute Avoidance

Open and honest communication with your neighbour can prevent disputes from arising. While you might legally have the right to put up a new fence, discussing your intentions with your neighbour is always good practice. It helps maintain positive relationships and sometimes even offers a chance for collaborative problem-solving.

Ethical Considerations

While legal permission is crucial, the ethical implications of erecting a fence in front of your neighbour's cannot be overlooked. Consider the following:

  • Aesthetics: How will your new fence affect the look and feel of the neighbourhood, and more specifically, your neighbour's view?
  • Impact on Light and Space: Could your new fence cast your neighbour’s garden into shade, or encroach upon their sense of space?
  • Shared Responsibility: In cases where the existing fence might be on a boundary line, who has taken responsibility for its maintenance? Erecting a new fence might change these dynamics.

Practical Steps to Take

1. Conduct a Survey: If there’s any doubt about the boundary lines, consider hiring a professional surveyor to establish the limits of your property definitively.

2. Communicate: Before making any decisions, have a conversation with your neighbour. Explain your reasons for wanting a new fence and listen to any concerns they might have.

3. Seek Permission: Depending on your location, you may need to apply for planning permission. This process can be straightforward, but it requires consideration and understanding of local laws.

4. Consider Collaboration: Sometimes, it might be possible to work with your neighbour to replace or upgrade the existing fence, benefiting both parties and avoiding potential conflicts.


Putting up a new fence in front of your neighbour’s fence is not a decision to be taken lightly. Legal entitlements aside, the importance of maintaining good neighbourly relations cannot be overstated. By taking a measured, communicative approach, and respecting both the law and the wishes of your neighbour, it's possible to resolve the matter in a way that meets your needs without sacrificing the harmony of your local community.

Remember, the most enduring boundaries are those built on mutual respect and understanding, not merely posts and panels.