Neighbour tapping into our gutters over boundary

Neighbour tapping into our gutters over boundary

Postby lehbaurd » Mon May 09, 2016 9:13 pm

Sorry for the very large first post but as I can’t upload images I want to be as clear as possible.

Our house was built 20 years ago by one developer and the neighbour’s to the rear at the same time by another.

The end of our land to the rear (and that of our neighbours on either side of us) adjoins the side his.

There is an original fence which runs across the end of our plot and part way across our neighbour’s to the right. The posts are on our side of the fence with the palings facing the neighbour. I assume this portion to be our fence.

Abutting this boundary line with our garden the neighbour has a 2.8m high leylandii hedge and two wood sheds.

Our garage is in the right hand corner of our plot (our neighbour to the left has a similar garage). Its rear wall is 25cm from the fence. The gutter right round our garage projects for approximately 12 cm over the outer edge of "our" rear fence ie into the airspace over his land.

The rear neighbour put new fencing around his property but left the original fence running across our land. He has braced the fence behind our garage by attaching long brackets to its rear wall.
The fence needs replacing at the end of our garden as it has rotted there. I don’t intend to replace it right across the rear of the garage as I can’t get access.

When I was getting the area cleared of all the planting I noticed a couple of things:

1. The neighbour or his predecessor has attached a power cable in conduit with cable ties along the top of "our" fence on his side just under the capping. It is also attached down one of the palings of "our" fence just before his new fence starts. As the existing fence is going to be removed the cable will have to be taken off. I think that the current position is potentially dangerous as someone could drill into the cable - for example if they wanted to attach trellis to the fence. So I would prefer him to run it along the ground on his side.

2. The neighbour has cut into the gutter behind our garage and installed a downpipe which runs on our side of the fence (attached to the fence itself by a cable tie) which he has tapped into to feed 2 water butts adjoining the fence. (I doubt it was his predecessor as the neighbour has installed raised vegetable beds there). The downpipe looks to be open at the bottom and from the depression in the ground it seems that rainwater simply discharges there but I can't be sure. I don’t know how long this has been there as he certainly never asked me whether he could do it.

I don’t want to have bad relations with my neighbour (who traps squirrels in his garden and has been seen to discharge an air rifle from his upstairs window) but I did not give permission for either of these things and am unsure whether he is allowed to do either of them (also whether the gutter/downpipe issue could be problematic when we come to sell).

Any guidance on the situation and my options would be gratefully received.
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Re: Neighbour tapping into our gutters over boundary

Postby Collaborate » Mon May 09, 2016 10:14 pm

Assuming it is your fence, he's not allowed to attach anything to it. As the fence is coming down anyway, presumably it's a simple matter of you throwing the cabling back to his side?

He's also not permitted to tap in to your guttering and draw water from it, particularly as it seems as if the water may be simply discharging on to the ground. I would suggest that you simply stop up the downspout and ask him to ensure that it is left as is.

If he falls out with you over that, then that tells you all you need to know about him. Hopefully he'll see your point and won't take any future liberties.
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Re: Neighbour tapping into our gutters over boundary

Postby despair » Tue May 10, 2016 7:20 am

your neighbor is taking liberties and has no right whatever to touch your property

just politely remind him its your property and as such he needs permission to attach or alter anything which is flatly refused

the water discharge may have contributed to fence posts rotting
assume his raised veg beds are not using your fence as one side because that too is not allowed

best way to deal with things like this is quietly remove all attachments restore status quo and return attachments to his side and wait for him to approach you

then ask him if he would like you attaching what you like to his car ! its the same difference
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Re: Neighbour tapping into our gutters over boundary

Postby arborlad » Tue May 10, 2016 9:41 am

lehbaurd wrote:Sorry for the very large first post but as I can’t upload images I want to be as clear as possible.



You need three or more posts before you are entitled to post images: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=19160

Photos or diagrams would help with understanding your situation.
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Re: Neighbour tapping into our gutters over boundary

Postby lehbaurd » Tue May 10, 2016 8:36 pm

Thanks for the helpful replies.

The cable solution seems clear enough – I’ll tell the neighbour that I don’t want him to reattach it when the new fence panels - across the area that we can access without going onto his land - are erected.

I assume that the cable is also attached to the part of the fence behind our garage (that we can’t reach without being on his land and therefore are not proposing to replace) and I’ll have to see whether he’ll agree to remove that although the risk of anyone in our garden being harmed from that source is pretty much non-existent.

The problem with the gutter/downpipe is more difficult as I would have to be on his land in order to remove it myself.

Our garage is a double one and the gap behind it to the fence is only 25 cm. So there’s no way I could get behind it. Until we needed to have the fence fixed there was a big rambling rose in the corner of our garden next to the garage obscuring the view behind it so I guess he thought it was so inaccessible we'd never notice or bother to look.

He has cut into the gutter approximately halfway across the rear of the garage - so it’s impossible to reach from our garden - and installed an outlet and a 45 degree adapter to take the downpipe back over the fence line onto our land. It then hangs down on our side of the fence with 2 flexible hoses leading from it through the fence onto his side of the boundary to his water butts.

I'm hoping a friendly chat pointing out that this has been installed without permission and asking him to remove the downpipe and reinstate the gutter himself will do the trick.

If he chooses not to be reasonable I am guessing my choices are:

1. Propose that I engage a contractor to do the job (he ought to pay for it but if it came to it I can't see the cost to me would be very high) provided that there is a clause in his deeds that require him to allow me access to his land to carry out maintenance on the garage. There is in our deeds in respect of our neighbours on either side and vice versa. I presume that there will have to be such a provision in his as the rear wall/roof/gutter of our garage are only accessible from his land.

2. If he is unreasonable – get a solicitor to write requiring access.

Any other considerations or advice would be very welcome.
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Re: Neighbour tapping into our gutters over boundary

Postby mr sheen » Tue May 10, 2016 9:01 pm

lehbaurd wrote: The posts are on our side of the fence with the palings facing the neighbour. I assume this portion to be our fence.

Our garage is in the right hand corner of our plot (our neighbour to the left has a similar garage). Its rear wall is 25cm from the fence. The gutter right round our garage projects for approximately 12 cm over the outer edge of "our" rear fence ie into the airspace over his land.


1. The neighbour or his predecessor has attached a power cable in conduit with cable ties along the top of "our" fence on his side just under the capping. It is also attached down one of the palings of "our" fence just before his new fence starts. As the existing fence is going to be removed the cable will have to be taken off. I think that the current position is potentially dangerous as someone could drill into the cable - for example if they wanted to attach trellis to the fence. So I would prefer him to run it along the ground on his side.

2. The neighbour has cut into the gutter behind our garage and installed a downpipe which runs on our side of the fence (attached to the fence itself by a cable tie) which he has tapped into to feed 2 water butts adjoining the fence. (I doubt it was his predecessor as the neighbour has installed raised vegetable beds there). The downpipe looks to be open at the bottom and from the depression in the ground it seems that rainwater simply discharges there but I can't be sure. I don’t know how long this has been there as he certainly never asked me whether he could do it.


Any guidance on the situation and my options would be gratefully received.


The posts are not enough to prove you own the fence. Both properties were built at the same time, so one of the developers put the fence up. You describe the fence a 'ours' with inverted commas indicating that there may be nothing in the deeds to indicate that it is yours....so before laying the law down about what can be attached to the fence you need to be able to prove you own it. If you damage his cable, he can claim criminal damage and without proof you own the fence the police may (or may not) arrest you.

Your guttering encroaches onto his land...without proof that you have the right for this to occur, he could just remove it and allow the water to run down your garage wall.

Under these sorts of circumstances and mutual dependency, give and take and reasonableness is the name of the game unless you want a lose/lose scenario.

Sending a solicitors letter will no doubt provoke a response to the solicitor asking for your proof of your assertions that you own the fence, proof that you have the right to have guttering on their land etc etc etc...which will put you on the back foot if you don't have such proof and gives him the one up as it will have cost him nothing, cost you money and you have got....well nowhere!
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Re: Neighbour tapping into our gutters over boundary

Postby Collaborate » Tue May 10, 2016 11:41 pm

mr sheen wrote:The posts are not enough to prove you own the fence. Both properties were built at the same time, so one of the developers put the fence up. You describe the fence a 'ours' with inverted commas indicating that there may be nothing in the deeds to indicate that it is yours....so before laying the law down about what can be attached to the fence you need to be able to prove you own it. If you damage his cable, he can claim criminal damage and without proof you own the fence the police may (or may not) arrest you.

Your guttering encroaches onto his land...without proof that you have the right for this to occur, he could just remove it and allow the water to run down your garage wall.

Under these sorts of circumstances and mutual dependency, give and take and reasonableness is the name of the game unless you want a lose/lose scenario.

Sending a solicitors letter will no doubt provoke a response to the solicitor asking for your proof of your assertions that you own the fence, proof that you have the right to have guttering on their land etc etc etc...which will put you on the back foot if you don't have such proof and gives him the one up as it will have cost him nothing, cost you money and you have got....well nowhere!


As the properties were built 20 years ago, there's no need to worry about whether the deeds say your guttering may overhang. Irrespective, they will have earned the right to do so after that length of time.
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Re: Neighbour tapping into our gutters over boundary

Postby lehbaurd » Wed May 11, 2016 6:49 pm

Thank you Collaborate for that welcome clarification.

We are the original occupiers of our house. The garage has always been there. Its roof is essentially a pyramid shape which means that there are eaves right round it and the gutter is attached to the fascia boards.

I'd have been astounded if our house had been built with no right for gutters to encroach - albeit very slightly - over the boundary line. The same arrangement applies to the gutter and eaves of our lefthand neighbours' garage over our land. We have to allow them access to carry our repairs. And would have done so without this requirement in the deeds - although they have never needed to.

When we moved in the fence was already in place and the neighbour's house behind was unfinished and unoccupied.

The end of the gardens of 3 houses (including ours) adjoin the side of the garden of the neighbour who has decided to cut into our gutter. Originally the fence ran across the end of all of these gardens in one continuous line. The neighbour behind replaced part of the fence bordering the house on our left and left the rest of it in place. It is part of this that I want to replace.

I will of course get our deeds out of safe custody to see what provisions there are about the fence/boundary. The drawing of our plot from the OS records is no help at all as it is not sufficiently detailed.

However based on the fact that the estate was developed by 2 developers at the same time and that the fence type is consistent with the ones installed around the houses built by "our developer" my understanding has always been that the portion of the fence that crossed our land was ours.

Is it possible that ownership of a continuous run of fence can attach to each of the properties across which it passes, starting and ending at the respective boundaries? Or is it more likely that the whole run belongs to the person on whose land the full run borders?

Obviously I am trying to avoid an argument with the neighbour and certainly would not want to have to use a solicitor unless I really had to. We've lived here without issue since the houses were built. When his leylandii hedge started encroaching on our garden I made sure I went and asked his permission before trimming it back even though I was allowed to do so legally. But someone has installed this downpipe on our property - which I have confirmed today discharges water onto our land when the butts are full - and damaged the guttering without permisson. I don't want to have to explain when we come to sell this house that there is something attached to it that we didn't agree to.
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Re: Neighbour tapping into our gutters over boundary

Postby lehbaurd » Thu May 12, 2016 8:18 pm

I have now finally been able to look at our deeds.

The key clauses state:

a) the property includes the whole or any wall or fence erected along any boundary marked “T”inwards on the plan

b) Any wall or fence dividing the property from any other part of the estate and not marked “T” ….. is a party wall or fence


The plan shows “T”s only on external boundaries from our developer’s plots- ie to land not part of the estate itself.

Internal boundaries and the division between our developer’s section and the other developer’s section (such as the fence at the end of our garden) are unmarked and therefore “party”.
I had heard of party walls but not of party fences.

My reading now is that the fence separating our garden from the neighbour’s at the rear is a shared responsibility between him and us for the portion that runs across our land. I’m not sure whether that places any obligation on either party to actually maintain the fence.

I also understand that our garage wall, being within the fence line and on our side – is a not party wall.

So the options re the fence appear to be:

1. Ask him if he wants to share the cost of replacing the part of the fence in question. I assume if he agrees the fence remains “party”. I believe however that he does not have to contribute to the maintenance or replacement of the fence.

2. Agree that I will pay for replacement of the rotting fence in the area that I can access. In this case who does this part of the fence belong to and who can attach things to it?

3. Erect a new fence on our land up to the existing fence line. Does the boundary defined by the existing fence remain or does it move to the fence we erect? If the latter how can we ensure that the existing boundary remains?

Could one of the resident experts comment on these scenarios please or should I be posting in the Fence forum instead?
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Re: Neighbour tapping into our gutters over boundary

Postby mr sheen » Thu May 12, 2016 10:28 pm

It is unlikely that The fence is shared since the properties were built by different builders and if your deeds indicate that you don't own it, then on the balance of probabilities, it is likely to be his. Consequently you have no right to remove his cable nor remove the fence.

You can ask him if you can replace it at your cost but unless you agree to him attaching things again he may well refuse, he has no obligation to contribute to the cost ...he who wants a fence, pays for it.

You can erect a fence on your side. This fence will belong to you. It may lead to boundary issues since he could just then remove his existing fence, leaving yours marking the 'boundary'.
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Re: Neighbour tapping into our gutters over boundary

Postby Collaborate » Thu May 12, 2016 11:33 pm

I'm as puzzled as mrsheen is by your belief that the fence is party. In your OP you mentioned that the property at the back was built by a different builder to yours. that boundary will therefore define part of the external boundary of the developer's plot. On the map you have does that fence have a T mark inwards, a T mark outwards, or no T mark whatsoever?
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Re: Neighbour tapping into our gutters over boundary

Postby lehbaurd » Fri May 13, 2016 9:44 am

The documents show that the land on which the estate stands was bought by both developers from the original owner at the same time. So subdivision would have occurred then.

My plan shows the plots created by our developer but not the "other side".

So there are no T marks shown on my plan for this or any other boundary where the gardens adjoin the second developer's part of the estate. In the case of our plot there are none shown on our side and none behind the line.

The only T marks are where the boundaries intersect with properties outside the confines of this estate and these are inwards showing that those fences belong to the residents of this estate.

Since there are no T marks on any of the internal boundaries and clause b states that unless marked “any wall or fence dividing the property from any other part of the estate and not marked T” is party I did (mis?)read this to apply to the fence in question.

Estate is a defined term and I have taken it to refer to the entirety of the development not just ours – again that may be a mis-reading on my part.

The plan of the neighbour's plot which can be downloaded from the Land Registry shows no T marks whatsoever. So obviously when I speak to him I will ask his understanding about ownership.

You can erect a fence on your side. This fence will belong to you. It may lead to boundary issues since he could just then remove his existing fence, leaving yours marking the 'boundary'.


In the case of a fence erected within the existing one – how can we ensure that the existing boundary remains fixed at its current position?
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Re: Neighbour tapping into our gutters over boundary

Postby Collaborate » Fri May 13, 2016 10:08 am

OK - so it does look like it's a party fence.

Either owner can attach things to such a fence, although unsafe electric cabling may well breach regulations (search for an old thread about cabling passing through a barn on a remote property - has a mine of information about the regulations).

It's important to remember that an owner can only attach things to their side. We've attached trellis to our panel fence.
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Re: Neighbour tapping into our gutters over boundary

Postby lehbaurd » Fri May 13, 2016 10:19 am

Thanks

Just in case - do you know how we could preserve the existing boundary line if it turns out we have to erect a fence on our side after all?

(PS There's a covenant in our deeds to pay on demand a proportionate cost of maintaining or renewing any party wall or fence and presumably mirror covenants for the other developers' deeds).
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Re: Neighbour tapping into our gutters over boundary

Postby arborlad » Fri May 13, 2016 11:08 am

lehbaurd wrote:There is an original fence which runs across the end of our plot and part way across our neighbour’s to the right. The posts are on our side of the fence with the palings facing the neighbour. I assume this portion to be our fence.



However based on the fact that the estate was developed by 2 developers at the same time and that the fence type is consistent with the ones installed around the houses built by "our developer" my understanding has always been that the portion of the fence that crossed our land was ours.




I would agree on both assumptions. It seems highly unlikely that a party structure was erected between two separate developments.

Where there is an intention for a structure to be a party one, it is normally made clear by the type and manner of construction.
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