Main image upload

December 2015

Question

I would like to know if my fence would be considered as being owned by one party or both parties. In other words, is it a “party fence” or not?

Answer

The location of the line which defines the title boundary between two properties – ie the legal boundary – determines whether or not a wall or fence separating the properties is a party wall or fence. If the wall/fence is built on the legal boundary, such that part of it is on either side of the legal boundary, then it is a party wall/fence.

To determine the precise location of the legal boundary, it is necessary to consult the deed map. If it does not have dimensions or is not sufficiently detailed, an on-site inspection by a chartered surveyor and a determination of what has been the “settled” boundary or accepted boundary between the parties is necessary. An original site plan or Land Registry map (albeit nonconclusive in relation to boundaries) may be useful.

Without the benefit of the foregoing information, the following interpretation is subject to the limitations of the information available from the photograph you have supplied.

The photograph (right) shows two attached houses: House A (left side as viewed) and House B (right side). From the method by which they appear to have been constructed, including a single-storey extension to House A adjoining the two-storey side wall of House B and the corresponding alignment of the decorative black-painted quoins on House B, it appears the legal boundary runs along the outer face of the side wall of House B, ie the inner face of the side wall to House A.

This interpretation is supported by the extent of the concrete area/driveway to the front of House A. The outer edge alignment of the concrete area/driveway is a continuation of the alignment of the outer face of the side wall of House B.

The timber fence in question is erected tight against the edge of the concrete driveway, but not over it. It is located entirely in the property of House B. The timber fence is, therefore, not a party fence. Prior consultation with neighbours is strongly advised if intending to construct a boundary fence near the legal boundary and prior agreement is necessary if constructing on or over the legal boundary.

Patrick Shine is a Chartered Geomatics Surveyor, a Chartered Civil Engineer and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.