Fence Viewers

Township of Southgate
Fence Viewers

When neighbours cannot agree on the construction, reconstruction or maintenance of a fence, the Line Fences Act, being a provincial law, governs the arbitration process if necessary. Three fence viewers will examine the land in question and hear submissions from the adjoining owners and/or their witnesses. All notices under the Act are sent out by the Clerk’s Office.

The Township appoints Fence Viewers for a 4-year term. If you are interested in becoming a fence viewer in the future, please contact clerks@southgate.ca.

Purpose of the Act
The purpose of the Line Fences Act is to provide a procedure for the resolution of line fence disputes between the owners of adjoining properties. Line fences are fences that mark the boundary between properties and are often referred to as boundary or division fences. The Act does not deal with disputes about fences that are not on a boundary line. 

When is the Act Applicable?
The arbitration procedure is applicable to two situations where the owners are unable to reach agreement:
  • Where no fence currently exists at the boundary between the two properties, and one owner wants a new fence to be constructed to mark the boundary; or
  • Where a line fence already exists, and one owner believes that it needs to be reconstructed or repaired. 
In such cases, an owner can request that a municipality assign "fence-viewers" to resolve the dispute and issue a decision which is called an "award". The fence-viewers are authorized to only address one or both of the following issues in such situations:
  • The appointment of responsibility for fencing work between the two adjoining owners; or
  • The description of the fence that is to be constructed or reconstructed on the boundary line, including the materials to be used. 
When is the Act not Applicable?
The arbitration procedure is not applicable if one owner, on his or her own initiative, has constructed a new line fence or has reconstructed or repaired an entire existing line fence, and then wants to use the arbitration procedure to force the adjoining owner to pay part of the cost of the completed work. It is also important to note that the arbitration procedure deals only with disputes about fences and does not provide means of determining the location of the boundary line between adjoining properties. Such disputes must be resolved by the owners themselves as municipalities and their fence-viewers have no jurisdiction to deal with boundary issues. As many municipal staff members and fence-viewers are aware, property owners involved in a boundary dispute often approach the municipality in the hope that the matter can be resolved without the need for them to obtain legal advice and a survey. 

Informal Resolution of Disputes
Although many property owners approach their local municipality about line fence matters, they are usually able to reach agreement with their neighbour without the need for a formal viewing. An informal discussion between a municipal staff member or the adjoining owners can often help to resolve a dispute, especially where the owners are not on good terms. In addition, owners normally become more willing to resolve their dispute themselves once they are made aware that they will be required to pay for a viewing and its related costs. 

A Guide to the Line Fences Act

All information on this website is provided as a public resource of general information. Every effort is made to ensure that the documents on this website are accurate and contain the latest amendments; however, the Township of Southgate does not guarantee or accept any responsibility for accuracy, reliability, currency or completeness of information provided here.