It’s not uncommon that there’s an existing fence between two houses in need of repair or replacement. Also not uncommon: the neighbours disagree about the need and who should foot the bill.
Fences inside property lines
If the fence is entirely within one of the properties there is no issue. The owner of said property is the owner of the fence and can do whatever he or she likes with it. It’s still worth a chat with the neighbours to bring them up to speed on any changes you are planning. There’s no legal requirement, but early and open lines of communications are a proven way to keep tension out of the relationship with the folks next door.
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.