If you have a fence on your property, it is expected that you are able to take care of it and look after it as you need to. In a lot of cases, this will involve painting your fence to make sure that it still looks impressive and beautiful.
You would not think that painting your fence would require you to ask anybody for permission, but it depends entirely on the location of the fence. If the location of the fence happens to be a party wall, i.e. something which is owned by both you and your neighbour, you may in fact need to seek permission to do certain things.
Let’s take a look at how you navigate this particular minefield so you know exactly what to do.
Fence painting depends a lot on where the fence is on your property. If it’s a fence outside the front, where it is containing your garden, then usually, you can do whatever you like with it.
When it comes to fence painting, you can do whatever you want to your side of the fence. So, if it is your fence on both the outside and the inside, then you are free to do whatever you like in regards to painting. However, if your fence is both yours and your neighbours, and separate the two, then you do have to think about how you choose to paint the fence.
Basically, this falls under what we like to refer to as the Party Wall Act 1996. This refers to any structure which acts as the bridge between one property and another. Because you both have equal ownership of the fence, you have to be a little bit more careful if you want to paint both sides. In fact, what you have to do is file a party wall notice.
This may sound surprising, and even ridiculous, but legally, you’re not allowed to touch the other side of the fence if it belongs to your neighbour. You cannot paint it for them, because they did not give you express permission to do so. This means that you need get their permission beforehand.
It is worth mentioning here that there are no provisions within the party wall act to deal with standard garden fences i.e. normal timber fence panels sited in concrete or timber posts and gravel boards so you would not be required to serve a party wall notice.
If you want to paint their side of the fence in addition to your side of the fence, and you need to give them time to approve this request.
Your neighbour can either approve your request, in which case you can go right ahead, or they can dispute your request, in which case you then have a neighbourly dispute on your hands and it is then that you need to consider the costs involved with arbitration or simply only paint your side of the fence.
In all honesty, painting a fence is a fairly minor transgression. It’s not exactly something that most people are going to object to, especially if you offered to paint their fence in a nice colour for free. However, you do have to take other peoples rights into consideration. You cannot interfere with their side of the fence even if that fence technically belongs to you.
Basically, in order to paint your neighbours side of the fence you would require either entering
their property and paint the fence or removing the fence panel entirely and leaving the garden open.
When doing the latter, you will need to consider if the neighbour has young children or pets that could come to harm if the garden is left open whilst painting the fence panels.
You should therefore stipulate exactly what you will do, advise that you will make sure that any damages to their property are taken care of (such as paint drips etc) and you have to reassure them that you will not cause any harm to their side of the fence during the painting process.
It may seem like a strange thing to have to do, but if you just asked nicely, usually they won’t have a problem. Understandably, some people have their own ideas about what they want to do with their fence, so you may have to make certain concessions, like for example adding a waterproof coat of paint.
In conclusion, it is important to make sure that you are getting permission before you start painting the other side of the fence even If you own the fence, you need to get permission from your neighbour beforehand. Generally speaking, most people aren’t going to care, it’s a free fence painted, so why not? However, not everyone will behave like that, so in all cases, it would be prudent to speak with your neighbour first.
The location of the fence will heavily influence what you can and cannot do, so it’s worth keeping that in mind. You’ll want to make sure that you have the best possible options in place, and that you look after your neighbours side of the fence while you are making alterations to it.
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