For many homeowners, the question of whether or not you can replace a fence without your neighbour's permission is a crucial one, particularly in tightly packed neighbourhoods where boundaries are close and personal. This guide aims to shed light on the legal and courteous steps to take when considering replacing a boundary feature, such as a fence, near your neighbour's property.

Understanding Boundary Ownership

The first step in determining whether you can replace a fence is to establish who owns the boundary. In the UK, boundary ownership is often indicated on the title deeds of your property. These documents may reveal that you’re the sole owner of the boundary, it is shared with your neighbour (party boundary), or that it belongs entirely to them.

Some deeds use a "T" symbol to indicate boundary ownership, with the base of the "T" pointing towards the owner. If the deeds to your home do not clearly state who owns the boundary or if it's shared, you might need to come to an agreement with your neighbour or seek legal advice.

Legal Requirements and Permissions

Assuming the fence is within your property and solely owned by you, there are still some legal considerations to bear in mind:

Planning Permissions

In most cases, replacing an existing fence with another of similar height (up to 2 metres) does not require planning permission. However, if your property is listed or located in a conservation area, you may need to seek additional guidance.

"The Party Wall etc. Act 1996"

This piece of legislation comes into play when works involve shared boundaries. If you're planning substantial work (not just replacing a like-for-like fence but maybe altering the boundary structure entirely), you're required to inform your neighbour. They must give written consent if they agree to the changes.

The Right Approach to Replacing Your Fence

Have a Friendly Chat

The most straightforward, and often overlooked, approach is to simply talk to your neighbour. In many cases, they may also be considering the need for maintenance or replacement of the boundary and might be willing to share the costs.

Written Notice

If formal legislation applies to your situation (such as "The Party Wall etc. Act 1996"), you are required to give notice to your neighbour. The notice should detail the work you intend to carry out, how it will be done, and when. Your neighbour has 14 days to respond, either agreeing to the work or dissenting. If they dissent, you'll be pushed to settle the dispute, which can be done through surveyors.

Seeking Agreements

If you find out the fence is jointly owned, or even if it's solely your neighbour’s property but affects your enjoyment of your property, seeking an agreement is always the best course of action. It ensures a harmonious relationship and can prevent potential legal disputes in the future.


Replacing a fence without your neighbour's permission can be legally complicated and might harm neighbourly relations. It’s always best to communicate openly, understand your legal obligations, and seek to resolve any disputes amicably. If in doubt, always consult with a legal professional to understand your rights and responsibilities fully. Remember, a friendly approach can go a long way towards maintaining good relations and making the process smoother for both parties.