The Line Fences Act is a procedure to resolve line fence disputes between the owners of adjoining properties. The Act does NOT deal with disputes about fences that are not on boundary line or disputes about where a boundary line is. Owners of adjoining properties who are unable to reach agreement about a line fence may apply to the municipality to have the dispute arbitrated by three fence viewers who are appointed by municipal Council. Please also go to Line Fences Act in Ontario for additional details on the Line Fences Act and the process involved.
When does the Act apply?
- Where no line fence currently exists and one owner wants a new fence constructed to mark the property boundary.
- Where a line fence already exists and one owner wants it repaired or reconstructed.
A Fence-Viewer Award can Deal with the following Issues
- The apportionment of responsibility (cost and labour) for the fencing work.
- The description of the fence, including the materials to be used.
When does the Act not Apply?
- If the dispute is over the location of the property boundary.
- If one owner, on their own initiative, has built a new line fence or repaired and existing one and then wants to use the arbitration process to force the adjoining owner to be responsible for part of the cost.
- When the adjoining property is a municipal or a provincial highway.
An informal discussion between a municipal staff member and the owner of the adjoining property may sometimes help to resolve a situation without the need for fence viewers. Owners may become more willing to resolve their dispute themselves once they're made aware that they will be required to pay for a fence viewing and its related cost.
Who Owns a Line Fence?
The Line Fences Act does not answer this. It may be necessary to look at specific circumstances, such as who built the fence and who currently maintains it, before determining who the owner is.
Process for a Landowner to Follow
- Approach the municipality to see if the Line Fences Act can help to arbitrate a specific situation.
- The Clerk will review the circumstances to see if the Act applies.The Clerk will also discuss possible options on approaching the adjoining owner for a resolution without fence viewers.
- If the decision is made to proceed under the Act,the landowner must complete FORM 1 and submit it to the municipal office.
- The Clerk will assign three fence viewers and set a date and time for the will be sent to both owners and the fence viewers.
- The fence viewers decision will also be mailed to both owners after the viewing.
- The fence viewers decision can be appealed to a provincially-appointed referee.