The following is a brief and legal summary of the City of Markham's Fence By-law taken from the City's By-law Guide for Markham Homeowners.
It explains, in plain language and with information links, what residents must know about specific City services and operations, which may affect a Markham homeowners' property.
Clear guidelines for building fences make for good relations among neighbours, because everybody knows what is allowed. In the event of a dispute, the rules are clear. All fences in the City of Markham must follow specific guidelines for design, height and construction.
The City’s fence by-law is 277-97. The by-law applies to all fences in Markham, except agricultural fences.
Think of your property, and where your house sits on it. Your front yard is generally the area of your yard that extends from the front edge of your home (or garage) forward to the street.
You may build a fence in your front yard up to 1.2 metres (4’) in height. From the front edge of your property back, properties with two interior side yards may build fences along their property lines, and along the back, up to 1.8 metres (6’) in height. But on corner properties, a fence along the exterior flank yard can only be up to 1.2 metres (4’) in height.
Your fence must follow the shape of the land as much as possible. If your property slopes, that fence must reasonably follow the slope. Should you desire, you can build a fence along the rear of your property with .3 metre (1’) of lattice on top, as long as it does not exceed the maximum height. Fences built across a natural or created waterway, such as a stream, must be designed to ensure this drainage feature is not blocked (contact By-law at 905-479-7782).
If your property backs onto a commercial lot, railway line or major highway, these rules do not apply to such fences.
Do you know where your property ends and your neighbour’s property begins? This line along the front, sides and back of your property is marked on your Plan of Survey—this document is usually filed when you purchase your property. You can use this survey to figure out your fence boundary; if you need to be more accurate, a qualified surveyor can tell you exactly where these boundaries are.
When a fence is built right down the middle of this boundary, so that the posts actually straddle each property, it is called a division fence, and its construction requires sharing of the cost by both neighbours.
You have the right to build, at your expense, a division fence to mark the boundary of your property. If you desire to share these costs with your neighbour, you must first serve notice to your neighbour, at least 14 days before you begin (by registered mail) that you intend to build a fence.
Ideally, you will both agree (in writing) to split the expense equally. If you both cannot agree on the fence type and construction costs, this by-law requires your neighbour to pay only the ‘basic cost’ of building a simple 4-foot-high chain-link fence. You can achieve your plans for a more expensive fence only if you are willing to pay the rest of the cost.
If you desire this expense to be more equally shared, you and your neighbour can work this out in a provincial court. This is a private-property matter between the two of you. The City will not get involved.
If your neighbour refuses to pay his/her share of the ‘basic cost’, you can serve notice on your neighbour (by registered mail) requiring payment in compliance with this by-law, and he/she is legally required to pay within 30 days.
Please note that fences built by condominium corporations are considered owned by the corporation, and their cost is a common expense that is paid through condominium fees.
If you have a pool on your property, either above-ground or an in-ground style, in which the depth of the water at any point can exceed 0.6 metres (24”), it must be surrounded with a 1.2 metre (4’) fence before it is filled to protect children from the danger of drowning. You must submit your plans to the Building Standards Department and obtain a swimming pool enclosure permit before beginning the work.
Homeowners who contravene any part of this by-law can be fined up to $5,000.
For more information call the By-law Enforcement and Licensing Department at 905-479-7782 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.