Written by Dale Richardson - Updated: June 23, 2023
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Repairs can be costly. If your fence is looking like it has seen better days, this is how you can find out who is responsible for the maintenance.
Local laws for fence repairs are different but they usually have specific rules for fences shared by private homes, rentals, inside a complex or between government properties.
The maintenance responsibilities of a fence depend on where you live. We will explore the four main situations where fence disputes happen.
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Unfortunately, finding out who is responsible for the maintenance of a fence between properties is not always a quick deal. But understanding a few things might speed up the process. The best place to start is to focus on what type of properties share the barrier.
Here are the 4 main types of properties with fences.
Local laws need to be checked out for more clarity but here are the basics of what you can expect.
If the fence was erected by your neighbour, then they own it. The maintenance duties fall on them. Even if you want to repair the fence or paint it, you are going to need their permission to bring about any changes.
If you installed the fence, then the responsibility of its upkeep is yours. Likewise, a neighbour cannot tear it down, create alterations or paint the fence without your permission.
There is no bigger eyesore in a garden than an ugly and broken fence. But what do you do if your neighbour owns the barrier but could not care less that it looks dilapidated and that it might even pose risks to pets and children?
First things first - stay on the good side of your neighbours. There is no need to escalate conflict over something like a fence without trying to resolve things in a way that does not end with bad feelings. They could be your permanent neighbours for a long time and there is nothing worse than fighting neighbours. Not getting along with the people who live next door can make one’s life miserable.
There are two things that you can do. That is if you can honestly no longer stand the way the fence looks.
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Okay, let’s say that you are the tenant and the neighbours are also renting from somebody. You can contact your landlord to ask if he or she can contact the owner of the other property and maybe come to an agreement to fix the fence. Remember, this might not play out as you want. If the fence is going to cost a lot to repair, one or both of the property owners might not want to fix the barrier.
If the fence is a hazard, you can start legal proceedings but that will come at the cost of not being your landlord’s favourite person. It is a kind of catch-22 situation with no easy solution.
But if the owner of your rental agrees that something should be done, then you can actually sit back, relax, and watch the whole situation fix itself without any further effort on your behalf. Providing that your landlord and the owner of the other property comes to an agreement, of course!
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There needs to be an agreement between the two owners of the properties. If you are the owner, then you need to come into contact with the person who leases the home next door to the tenants (your neighbours). Also, if your neighbours are tenants and they want to have the fence fixed, they must get their landlord and you to start discussing the finer details.
If you are the owner, always make sure that you stay within the law. In some places, neighbours can legally dispute your attempts to fix a fence even if you own it.
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There is unfortunately no simple answer. Rules can vary depending on the complex and area that you live in. Should you feel that you want to have a fence fixed, whether it is between you and a neighbour or the fence surrounding the complex, then you have to approach whoever is on the governing body or committee of that complex. They will know exactly who to contact for the repairs and who is responsible.
Luckily, this is not your financial duty. However, you might have a fair time trying to get the relevant players to do their part. Unfortunately, the departments or authorities that are responsible for the upkeep of public and government areas are notoriously quick to drag their feet.
You need to contact your local council to find out who is responsible for fixing a fence or barrier at a certain location in your neighbourhood. If you are lucky, you will get a quick reply but some councils are known for their slow response to public queries, so be prepared for that as well.
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