Navigating Your Fence By-Laws - In-Line Fence Article
By-Laws are there to protect and guide us, and help us live in peaceful harmony with our fellow residents. What do they say about our beloved fences?

Every Ontario municipality that the In-Line Fence crew has worked with has a by-law describing what you can and can’t do with fences on your property. Many are similar to each other, but they do have key differences. That’s why doing your fence by-law research is important – no one wants a visit by their local by-law officer after your project is complete.

Let’s dig deep into what you need to know before In-Line Fence installs your beautiful new fence.

Close to Home: Fence By-Laws for Residential Properties

A new fence on a residential property can transform your estate from basic and bland to bold and beautiful.

Although a building permit is not required for residential fence installations – except abnormally large fences or pool fences – they still must meet the provisions of your local by-law.

Most by-laws limit the height of backyard residential fences to 2.13 metres (7 feet). Front yard fences have lower limits, usually around 0.91 metres (3 feet). If you have a corner property, expect there to be other limitations.

By-laws often have what we like to call a “common sense clause”, meaning that although the above height limitations apply, residents should also avoid installing fences (or any tree or bush) that significantly obstructs the visual range of neighbours or passing vehicles.

Is your neighbour sharing in the cost? It’s important to read your by-law’s details to find the answer to this question. Some have no provisions for cost sharing, but others state that adjoining landowners must replace and maintain fences that mark the edge of their respective properties. Some municipalities, such as Hamilton, say that the cost of a four-foot-high chain link fence must be shared evenly between neighbours .We recommend having open communication with your neighbour(s) so that they fully understand what you plan to do, how you plan to do it and who is paying for it.

Some by-laws go one step further and list design elements that are restricted on residential properties. It may seem like a no-brainer to you, but you can’t have barbed wire on your fence or electrify it to keep out pesky intruders.

Also, if you’re a member of a homeowner’s association, you may have additional rules which trump local by-laws when it comes to fence height, style, colour and location.

Make a Splash: Pool Fence Rules

There are strict requirements for pool fences, since they are mandatory to keep children safe from the potentially dangerous water. Most importantly, a pool enclosure permit is required, and can take many months to process, so it’s never too early to get a head start on this. That’s why winter and spring are great times to contact In-Line Fence to design your dream pool – we can get your design done and included in your permit in time for installation before the upcoming swimming season.

Pool enclosures must be at least 1.8 metres (5 feet) in height and have a self-closing gate with a latch that can lock on the inside. The gate must remain locked at all times, unless there is adult supervision.

All in a Day’s Work: Commercial and Industrial Fence Rules

Fence by-laws for business and agricultural properties can differ significantly from those of residential properties.

Salvage yards must be fully enclosed and usually require fences between 1.8 metres (8 feet) and 3 metres (10 feet) in height. (Some municipalities have height limitations of a minimum of 6 feet to a maximum of 8 feet, so read your by-law carefully.)

For added security, your business can include barbed wire atop your chain-link fencing, but there are other regulations on barbed wire’s placement and usage.

Your farm could greatly benefit from a beautiful and practical fence, and although it may seem wise to install an electric fence to keep predators out, you are only allowed to install an electric fence in livestock lots.

Chain-Link Fencing: One Size Does Not Fit All

Beware of Change

Keep in mind that your local municipality is often improving, updating and adding to its lengthy number of by-laws. So, before you sketch out your dream fence, make sure that it is “in line” with the rules of your region.

If you have questions regarding your local by-laws, it is always best to ask your municipality – they are there to help you navigate the rules to keep you and your neighbours safe.

If you have questions about supplying and installing great fences for your property or pool In-Line Fence is always here to help.