It’s a very common question. The answer is no, the fence does not determine the property line even though it is usually built on top of it.

Bob and Alice

Let’s say Alice doesn’t get along with her neighbour Bob and doesn’t want to talk about fence styles or cost sharing with him. She builds a fence that’s entirely inside her property. It’s her right to do so. If either her or Bob move the incoming homeowner would be mistaken to think that the fence marks the boundary between the lots.

forest hill w/laurel pattern in pressure treated wood

You can see the neighbour’s chain link fence on the right and left. The wood fence is built inside the property line, not on top of it.

Line fences

Fences that are built on top of a property line are called line fences. Most neighborhood fences are line fences. If you want to build a fence along a property line, or there is an existing one that needs repair or replacement talk to your neighbour about the project. You’ll both be co-owners of the fence no matter who pays. If you’re unable to come to an agreement the Ontario Line Fences Act provides a dispute resolution mechanism for owners of adjoining properties. You can read more about it here. Briefly, the municipality will assign “fence-viewers” to come out, assess the situation, and make a ruling to resolve the dispute.

The bottom line

Don’t assume a fence is built on the property line. It often is, but it’s not always the case. When dealing with line fences, talk with your neighbours early and often. The Ontario Line Fences Act can resolve disputes, but it’s better to solve the problem before it gets there.

More questions?

If you have more questions about property lines or other issues we’re happy to answer them. Call 613-736-1122 or hit the chat button on the right during business hours.