When moving into a new home or during any home renovation project, questions about fence ownership often arise. Understanding which fence belongs to whom can save homeowners from potential disputes with neighbours and ensure proper maintenance and responsibility are upheld. This comprehensive guide aims to clarify the common queries surrounding fence ownership, helping you to identify boundary features with ease.

Understanding Boundary Features

Boundary features are physical demarcations that separate one property from another. While fences are the most common type of boundary feature, hedges, walls, and even ditches can also serve this purpose. The specifics of who owns which boundary feature (and therefore, who is responsible for its maintenance) depends on several factors including legal documentation, local regulations, and sometimes, mutual agreements between neighbours.

Checking Property Deeds

The first step in determining fence ownership is to check your property's deed. Property deeds often contain detailed descriptions of the property's boundaries and may specify which sides of the boundary the homeowner is responsible for. If your deed includes the term "T marks", it serves as a crucial indicator; the direction in which the T points typically signifies the owner of the boundary feature it touches. For example, if the T mark points into your property, you are likely responsible for the maintenance and ownership of that fence.

If your deed does not clearly specify fence ownership, or if you're unable to interpret the documentation, consulting with a legal professional or reaching out to your local land registry office may provide clarity.

The "Left-Hand Rule"

A common but somewhat misleading method for determining fence ownership is the "left-hand rule," which suggests that when facing your house from the street, you own the fence on your property's left side. However, this is more urban myth than a legally binding rule. Depending on the property's location and the decisions made when the properties were developed, fence responsibility can vary significantly. Therefore, it's essential to rely on legally documented indicators rather than this rule of thumb.

Legal Implications and Disputes

Understanding fence ownership is not solely for the sake of maintenance; it also has legal implications, especially when disputes arise. It's worthwhile noting that even if a fence sits entirely on one person's property, modifying or removing it without the neighbour’s consent can lead to disputes, and in some cases, legal actions.

If you and your neighbour are unable to agree on fence responsibility, mediation by a third party, such as a local council or a legal advisor, may be necessary to resolve the dispute amicably. These professionals can help interpret legal documents and may also advise on mutually beneficial solutions.

Mutual Agreements

In many cases, neighbours come to mutual agreements regarding boundary features, irrespective of legal ownership. Such agreements might include shared responsibility for maintenance or decision-making concerning the boundary feature's appearance. While these agreements are practical and can foster good neighbourly relations, it is wise to document them to avoid future misunderstandings, especially if the properties change hands.


Determining who owns which fence can sometimes be straightforward, but in other cases, it may require a bit more digging into legal documents or seeking professional advice. Regardless of the outcome, approaching conversations about boundary features with your neighbour in a friendly, cooperative manner can often lead to the best outcomes. Understanding and respecting boundary responsibilities not only help maintain the physical property lines but also the relationships between those who live on either side of them.