It’s a question we get asked a lot. The answer depends on the scenario.
A word about title registration
It’s important to be clear about which title registration system applies. Under the newer Land Titles system your neighbour cannot remove a fence that is installed within your property lines.
Under the older Registry system, if you don’t object within 10 years of the installation you can lose your legal rights to a fence improperly installed on your property.
In the 1990s Ontario began phasing out the old registry system and converted the registrations to land titles. This means the vast majority of residential properties now fall under the more recent land titles system.
Fences inside property lines
Assuming the current land title system, if the fence is entirely within your property there is no issue. The neighbour can’t replace, remove, or renovate the fence without your say so. It belongs to you.
Similarly if the existing fence is entirely within your neighbour’s property, the decisions about it are entirely theirs.
Regardless of legal obligations or lack thereof, it’s always smart to discuss the situation with the neighbours before any substantial work begins. Common courtesy is always in style. Whenever a minor disagreement turns into the Hatfields and the McCoys you can be sure there was a problem with the lines of communication long before things got out of control.
Fences on or between property lines
Problems can arise if there isn’t one clear owner. Most of the time the neighbours can come together and agree on the work to be done and how to divide the costs. But what if there’s a dispute they can’t resolve?
The Line Fences Act
The Ontario Line Fences Act provides a dispute resolution mechanism for owners of adjoining properties. You can read more about it here. It applies when a fence already exists and one owner believes it needs to be reconstructed or repaired. The owner can ask the municipality to assign “fence-viewers” to inspect the situation and issue a decision. Three fence-viewers are required to be present at a viewing, and they have the authority to divide the responsibility for the work between the neighbours. They can also describe the fence that is to be reconstructed if that is an issue as well.
If you have more questions about fences or other issues we’re happy to answer them. Call 613-736-1122 or hit the chat button on the right during business hours.