If you’ve noticed that someone has taken the liberty of putting something you didn’t approve of on your fence, it’s essential to understand the rules before taking action. Some people may put planters, posters, paint or other structures on their fences for decorative touches. But can your neighbour actually attach things to your fence in Ontario? This guide reviews fence laws and what you can do to handle this situation.
Ontario Fence Laws
Your neighbours aren’t allowed to put anything on your fence if it’s completely on your property. Issues can arise when fences are split between property lines, which is why the Line Fences Act was enacted to resolve disputes. How to find solutions to these disputes depends on where the issue falls on the boundary.
The Fence is on my Property
If the fence is on your property, it doesn’t matter where your neighbour places the item. You have the right to decide what should and should not be on your fence, even on the side that’s not facing you.
The Fence is on my Neighbour’s Property
It may seem unfair if you just want to enjoy your side of the fence, but unless it’s on your side of the property line or rests on the boundary, you have little say in the matter. You’re at the mercy of your neighbour, who may or may not allow you to do what you want. They may also choose to put up items you don’t like looking at on your side of the fence.
The Fence is on Both Properties
The issue becomes more complex if the fence is on both of your properties. Your neighbour may be allowed to put some items on their side, but only when they don’t detract from your own enjoyment of the fence. If an item is located on both sides of the fence, you may have a legal dispute because your neighbour technically crossed the property line.
What Should I do if a Neighbour Attaches an Item to my Fence?
Before you proceed with a legal case, you need to evaluate the situation and determine whether it’s easier to find a solution on your own or with your neighbour. Some of the ways you can resolve the issue include the following:
1. Decide if it’s a Deal Breaker
Keep in mind that you need to live next to your neighbour after the battle is over. You could destroy any future goodwill that you may need in the future if you make a huge deal over something minor. You should determine just how much of a problem the item is and whether you can live with it. If you can, this can aid in preserving your relationship.
2. Talk to Them
A lot of disputes can be resolved if people just talk it over. It may be nerve-wracking to approach your neighbour, but knocking on their door and having a chat about the matter could put the issue to rest. Your neighbour may have assumed they had the right to put things on the fence or believed it was on their side of the property line. Try your best to be cordial and understanding of their perspective. Talking it out doesn’t always work, but if you take this step, you may learn some critical issues to address before taking the dispute further.
3. Write a Letter
Whether you can’t reach your neighbour directly or are afraid of a verbal conflict, you can write a letter to get your point across instead. If you choose this route, be sure to give your neighbour enough time to respond to your letter before you assume it was ignored. Again, try your best to be friendly, as this will likely result in a more pleasant response.
4. Contact Your Municipality for Advice
Local laws vary, so contact your municipality to see what their rules and procedures are before acting. If you live in Ottawa, you can refer to the city’s website. Alternatively, you can find your municipality on the provincial government’s website.
5. Remove the Item Yourself
There are some instances where you can remove items yourself. For example, if you own the fence and don’t want the object there, you can take it down. Be careful about removing objects that wrap around the fence because if your neighbour owns the other side, you could be in the wrong. Additionally, keep in mind that removing someone else’s belongings may result in conflict, so be prepared for this conversation.
Residential Fence Installation Experts
If you’re looking to put up a new fence, you may be pondering your rights once it’s constructed. Reach out to us if you’re looking for more information about residential fence installation or advice for neighbour fence etiquette.