Council properties come with certain housing rules to be followed by residents. For instance, the purpose of this particular blog post is to answer the question of which side of the fence belongs to a council housing tenant. To understand the topic in detail we will also study some important rules regarding fencing as well the building laws that govern their installation. 

Which Side Of The Fence Is Mine In A Council House?

If you live in a stand-alone house,  both sides of the fence of a council house are your responsibility. This means that you are responsible for maintaining both sides. However, if you live in a semi-detached or terraced council housing facility, it can be a debatable topic to ascertain which side of the fence belongs to you. 

While some council housing residents may refer to the office copies of their property while others may consider looking at the boundary of their council house to determine the side of the fence that is their responsibility. 

Generally speaking, when fences are installed, the frames are kept on the reverse side from one’s property so as to provide the good side or more smoothly polished side to one’s neighbour and have the bad side or the one with posts and rails showing on one’s own side. In this manner, each resident in semi-detached council homes gets one good side and one bad side of the fence.

If you are still unsure about the side of the fence in a council house that belongs to you or if there is a dispute between you and your neighbour over the matter, you can seek advice from your local council office to confirm the facts.

Council authorities will provide fencing on your property in case of the following situations:

  • the property is adjacent to a public path or public alleyway
  • the property is intended is for communal areas
  • the property opens onto a public highway

However, maintenance of the fence is the tenant’s responsibility. If you want a higher fence or a more secure one for your pets than the one that is provided by the council, you will need to erect one on your one and bear its cost. You will need the council’s permission before you make any alterations to council property even if you have purchased the council house you live in.

Similarly, if you need a fence to divide your side of the garden from your neighbour’s, remove, change or alter an existing fence, you will have to bear the expense on your own, while the council will only grant permission to do so. 

What Are The Fencing Rules Regarding A Council House?

Below are some basic rules that apply to council homes:

  • Fences should be 1.8 to 2 metres in height at the rear and 1 metre at the front.
  • If a tenant intends to have a higher fence than the suggested guideline, they will need to seek approval from Planning Permission.
  • The tenant must get permission from the Tenancy Services Team before constructing a fence on the premises.
  • Your fence wall should be inside your boundary wall.
  • Tenants cannot remove existing fences without written approval from local council authorities.

When council houses with gardens are rented out to tenants and a boundary mark is not viable, the council authorities will usually install a basic fence such as a wire and post fence to mark the boundary line. However, in case of brand new properties being built, council authorities provide fencing along garden boundaries connected to a public footpath or communal area.

You do not need permission from the Building Regulations to install a fence; however, tenants must be careful that the structure is sound and continues to be maintained by them.

Do I Need Permission From Council To Install A Fence?

Unless you are making structural changes to a previous fence or changing the modification as per the indicated guidelines of council authorities, you will not need permission from the council to proceed with the installation of a fence. However, it is always advisable to inform council authorities much in advance when any modification to council property is being planned.

Changes to council property that need permission from council authorities include the following:

  • Building a parking space, garage, hard standing or driveway
  • Electrical work 
  • Flooring (this does not include) 
  • Gas work; such as central heating 
  • Installing a new kitchen or bathroom 
  • Installing a satellite dish or ariel
  • Installing a shed, porch, fence, conservatory, greenhouse, patio, decking, aviary, pigeon loft, fishpond, pool, or similar structure in the garden 
  • Plumbing work 
  • Structural work 

Do I Need Planning Permission For A Fence?

If you follow the Permitted Development guidelines, you do not need Planning Permission for an extension to your house. However, in case there is major work to be done at the front of the house, next to a road or a boundary, Planning Permission will be required. 

In case of any of the following changes to your property due to the extension, Planning Permission will be required:

  • More than 50 per cent of the land around the main house is going to be covered.
  • The extension is going to be located at the front of the house or on a side with an adjacent highway.
  • The materials to be used in the extension are not the same as the main house.
  • The height of the extension will be higher than the highest point on the roof of the main house.
  • The height of the eaves and ridges will be higher than those of the main house.
  • There is going to be an addition of raised platforms, balconies or verandahs. 

Is Fencing Included In Permitted Development?

The scope of Permitted Development runs across varied projects that may be related to the internal or external structure of a property. Home improvement projects under Permitted Development include the following:

  • building of a small rear extension 
  • construction of a porch 
  • changes of use including loft, garage or basement conversions
  • knocking down of internal walls
  • installation of solar panels 
  • installation of satellite dishes 
  • addtition of rooflights or dormer windows

What Are Building Regulations?

These are some basic standards for the design and structural changes that are to occur and are essential to be met during the construction, conversion or refurbishment of properties. Building Regulations have been set to assure that the health and safety of the residents will not be compromised in any way as a result of the said modifications to the property. 

These include the following:

  • Structural changes such as house extensions or conversions should not affect a load-bearing wall, beam or chimney breast or which will make access to property difficult. 
  • There should be no electrical safety concerns due to the addition of fuse boxes or plugs, or a change of electrics that causes new electrical wiring.
  • Installation of heating appliances such as a boiler, radiator or fuel-burning appliance should be managed with extreme caution.
  • There should be no concern for fire hazards due to construction work and the escape route (of the added/converted section to the premises) must comply with fire safety standards.
  • Installation of a new bathroom or kitchen should not affect the overall plumbing of the house.
  • New windows, doors or fixed air-conditioning systems should meet the safety and design standards set by Building Regulations.

Can I Extend My Council House?

Yes, you can extend your council house as long as you have taken permission from the council authority to proceed with any work on council property. Their permission will mainly depend on the type of council tenancy that an applicant is under. 

Secure tenants will find it easier to be granted permission for making major changes such as adding an extension to their council house as they are eligible to continue remaining as occupants for a lifetime. However, fixed tenants will not be able to attain permission until they qualify to become secure tenants.

Despite your tenancy status, you will still need to get your design for the extension approved by the council office and planning permission. 

What Are The Different Types Of Tenancies For Council Housing?

A tenancy agreement serves as a legal agreement bound by terms and conditions that the undersigning parties agree to while a living space is rented out. Tenancy agreements for council housing may be classified as below:

  • Introductory Tenancy: This is considered to be a 12 month trial period for tenants during which their rights to exchange property or make modifications to it are limited. Unless the tenant is evicted or the agreement extended for another 6 months, these will automatically convert to secure or flexible agreements once the trial period is over. 
  • Secure Tenancy: This form of tenancy secures your occupancy in the council house for life; unless you break any tenancy rules stated in the agreement. In this case, you may sub-let rooms in the property but not the entire premises. You may also transfer the tenancy to someone else, exchange the premises or even apply to purchase the property.
  • Flexible Tenancy: This type of tenancy is usually for a fixed term of 2 to 5 years; at the end of which the council may decide to offer you a renewed contract on similar terms, offer a secure tenancy or not renew at any terms at all. You continue to enjoy all the privileges of a secure tenant under such a contract; however, it remains time-bound. 
  • Joint Tenancy: This is a contract that comes into place after a secure or flexible tenancy as a result of the addition of a spouse/partner/joint tenant to your home. Under this contract, you and the joint tenant both become liable for rent payments and become eligible for all the privileges under secure tenancy jointly. 

Conclusion:

The above discussion makes it clear that while there may be some debate regarding ownership of a council house fence, most residents and people, in general, are of the view that the smooth and polished side of a fence belongs to one’s neighbour while the rough side with posts and rails belongs to one’s own self. However, in case of a dispute on the matter, council housing residents can confirm the matter regarding which side of the fence they own by inquiring from local council authorities.

FAQs: Which Side Of The Fence Is Mine In A Council House?

What is the law regarding garden fences?

Firstly, fences should be 1.8 to 2 metres in height at the rear and 1 metre at the front. Secondly, The tenant must get permission from the Tenancy Services Team before constructing a fence on the premises. Thirdly, your fence wall should be inside your boundary wall. Finally, tenants cannot remove existing fences without written approval from local council authorities.

What is the maximum height for a dividing fence?

According to the guidelines given by Planning Permission, fences should be 1.8 to 2 metres in height at the rear and 1 metre at the front. If someone intends to install a fence with different dimensions than these, they will need to attain written approval from Planning Permission.

Who is responsible for a boundary fence?

Installing a boundary fence on a new council property is the council’s responsibility. However, its maintenance n the long run will be the tenants’ responsibility.

Which fence is mine in the back garden?

The frames that face away from your property in the back garden or anywhere else on the property belong to you.

Which way should fences face in the UK?

As a general practice, the good side or polished side of the fence is kept on the side of one’s neighbour. Therefore your own fence should face the other side of your property.

References:

Which side of the fence is mine? These are the rules in the UK.

Which side of the fence is mine council house?

Fences & gates

My council home has a garden – what do I need to know?

Garden Fencing

Extending a council house ??

Alterations to council properties | LBHF

Planning permission: When you do not need it – GOV.UK

Building regulations approval

Planning Permission | Extensions

Repairs and maintenance in your council house

Council housing: Types of tenancy

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