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The Line Fences Act is one of Ontario’s most historic pieces of legislation that provides a local method of arbitrating fencing disputes between neighbouring property owners.

The Act applies where one owner wants to construct, repair or maintain a fence on a property boundary line, but is unable to reach agreement with the other owner on the type of fence to be erected, the sharing of the costs of the fence, or both of these issues.

The Act does not deal with disputes about fences that are not on a boundary line and does not apply if a municipality has passed its own by-law addressing these circumstances under the Municipal Act, 2001, or the City of Toronto Act, 2006.

If the Act applies, an owner may initiate the process by applying formally to the clerk of the municipality.

The Act provides an appeal procedure if either owner doesn't agree with the fence-viewers’ award. The appeal must be filled within 15 days of receiving a copy of the award. The appeal fee is $308 effective January 1st, 2015. The appeal fee will change annually on January 1st based on inflation as defined by the Consumer Price Index for Ontario from the previous calendar year.

Guides

A Guide to the Line Fences Act  (July 2014)

The guide (in accessible format) deals with the arbitration of fencing disputes in those parts of Ontario that are organized for municipal purposes, where the arbitration of fencing disputes is a responsibility of local municipalities.

The Line Fences Act and Abandoned Rail Right of Ways (March 2005)

In response to concerns expressed by owners of abandoned rail rights-of-way and the agricultural community, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing asked Dr. Wayne Caldwell to consult with key stakeholders to identify the issues, develop possible solutions, build consensus and provide non-binding advice on possible changes to section 20 of the Line Fences Act.

Links

Ontario's e-laws
e-Laws provides online access to official copies of Ontario’s statutes and regulations.

Government of Ontario Central Form Repository
This forms repository/library contains forms available in PDF format. Forms on this site may be viewed, filled-in on screen, printed and sent by regular mail.

Frequently Asked Questions

I'm having a dispute with my neighbour over the placement of a fence on our (common) lot line. Is there legislation that will help me solve this dispute?
The Line Fences Act provides a procedure that enables neighbouring landowners to have their fencing disputes arbitrated by municipally appointed fence-viewers.

The procedure is applicable to situations where one owner wants to construct, repair or maintain a fence on a property boundary line, but is unable to reach agreement with the other owner on the type of fence to be erected, the sharing of the costs of the fence, or both of these issues. The statute can be found at Ontario's e-laws.

Does the Line Fences Act apply to all municipalities?
The Act does not apply in a municipality or defined area or areas of a municipality where the municipal council has passed a by-law under the Municipal Act, or the City of Toronto Act, 2006. That by-law will set out how the cost of building and maintaining a fence is to be shared between neighbouring landowners.

Even if there is no by-law exempting the municipality from the application of the Act, there may be other lands in the municipality that are not subject to the Act, such as public highways.

Please call your local municipal clerk’s office to learn more.

Does the Line Fences Act also govern the design and construction of fences?
If the fence-viewers are requested to arbitrate and they hold a hearing and make an award stating that a fence is required, the award must include a description of the fence to be built and materials to be used.  If the municipality has a by-law that sets out the height and description of lawful fences, the description of the fence specified in the award must conform to the by-law.

If the Line Fences Act applies in my municipality, how do I initiate the process?
If neighbouring owners cannot reach an agreement regarding the construction, maintenance or repair of a fence, either owner may initiate the process by applying formally to the clerk of the municipality.

While it is not required by the statute, any person considering this route of arbitration should be satisfied that they have made all possible efforts to resolve the fence dispute before initiating this process.

Why is the fee to file an appeal increasing from $300 to $308 on January 1, 2015?
Effective January 1, 2015, the fee to file an appeal increases to $308 as required under Line Fences Act – O. Reg 363/13, Section 3 and Line Fences Act - R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 716, Section 6.

The Line Fences appeal fee changes every January 1st based on inflation as defined by the Consumer Price Index for Ontario from the previous calendar year.