Dividing fences in residential areas cause a lot of disputes between neighbours. In some cases, the disagreements will escalate into significant legal issues, causing wastage of time and money. Therefore, you should understand dividing fences and how to prevent unnecessary clashes on construction, upkeep and modification of the structures. In general, a dividing fence can be defined as any feature which encloses land. The fence can be a traditional line of posts and wire, panels, hedge or embankment. Here are some simple guidelines on avoiding disputes over dividing fences.
Understand the Fencing Rules
The most common cause of disagreements on fences is ownership. Therefore, you should understand the rules on dividing fences if you would like to avoid disputes. Typically, if a fence is built on the boundary between two parcels of land, the feature will be owned by the deed holders of both properties. However, if the structure is located on one of the neighbour's property, the ownership will shift to that individual. This aspect remains true even if the other neighbour paid for the fence. You should note that the fence ownership rules can be different, depending on the region of residence. If you are not sure about the property boundary between you and your neighbour, consult a land surveyor to identify and re-establish boundary markings.
Consult Your Neighbour before Developments
Another common cause of dividing fence disputes is developments which interfere with the feature. In simple terms, owners of adjoining properties will have a problem if changes are made to the structure they partly possess without their approval. Therefore, if you are thinking about performing a home improvement project which will affect the dividing fence, consult your neighbour. You should have a personal face-to-face chat with the other owner. Often, a friendly discussion will yield more results than official letters or visits by lawyers. Explain your intentions clearly and listen to the neighbours objections and concerns. You should also be willing to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
Obtain Written Agreements
You should obtain written consent from your neighbour before beginning your development. This practice is essential for all projects which will alter the fence, including attachment of shade sails, replacing the dividing fence and upgrading the existing fence for better security. The document will protect you in case the neighbour changes their mind or the ownership of the property changes.
If you are uncertain about the position of the property boundary or the ownership of the fence, you should think about hiring a licensed land surveyor for cadastral surveying.