Robert Frost once coined the famous saying, "Good fences make good neighbours," and many homeowners would agree. However, some of the most heated exchanges between those living adjacent to one another occur because of fence disputes. Therefore, new homeowners or those just getting started with a big backyard project might wonder, "which fence is mine?"
There are a few ideas floating around that can mislead people about who owns the fence. One of these misconceptions is that depending upon which side of the fence you see determines ownership. On the contrary, no matter what side the picket's face, it doesn't answer the question. Whether the good side (pickets) of a garden fence faces you or the bad side (framing or rails) of a wooden fence, the fence may not be yours.
Another common fence ownership misconception is that the left side fence when facing the home is the homeowner's property. This theory doesn't account for the myriad of property shapes with irregular dimensions and is absolutely false.
One of the easiest methods of determining who owns a particular fence is to examine a property line survey. When someone purchases a new home, aside from getting the title deeds or land registry, a fencing process is included for a surveyor to measure out and mark the property line.
Typically, large metal stakes are driven into the ground at the plot's edges and mark the exact point a property ends. If you're wondering, whose fence is it and you notice one is built on the land that belongs to you; whether it's a residential or commercial fence, legally it belongs to you.
If you didn't have a survey done previously or can't find an existing survey, it's always a good idea to hire a surveyor. Using high-tech equipment, surveyors can help resolve property disputes and give homeowners peace of mind.
A property line map is among the many forms, documents, and file folders homeowners receive after successfully purchasing a house. This map is handy and scales with visual cues like landmarks. Oftentimes, property line maps also indicate where your neighbour's property boundary is in relationship to your own.
If you find yourself in a debate with your neighbour over the ownership of a fence, you can consult the property line map and share your findings next door to prevent further conflict.
If for some reason, the property line map is missing from your home's paperwork, there are other ways to get one. First, you can contact your county and speak with your local assessor. The assessor may be able to provide you with a copy of the property line map either electronically or in person.
What if you don't have the means to hire a surveyor and can't get ahold of a property line map? You're in luck because smartphone applications like LandGlide can help you define your property line. Now, remember that even though a smartphone can use GPS to help find your property line, it's not exact.
A professional surveyor has vastly more accurate tools that stand up to legal challenges. However, for a general idea of where your property line extends, you can approximate it with smartphone apps.