Fence problem with nasty neighbour

Fence problem with nasty neighbour

Postby seawitch » Thu May 08, 2014 8:48 pm

Hello All

I'm looking for some advice regarding a problem I have with one of my neighbours. We own the boundary between the properties and wish to replace the fence which sits on the boundary line. It is old and wasn't the best quality but has been pushed out of line and damaged by timber, ivy, creepers and leylandii trees on his side and we wish to replace it with a strong, closed board fence with concrete posts and gravel boards.

Now the two of us don't get along at all, due to a dispute over his leylandii trees, I write to him regularly and ask him to trim them back, so they do not trespass over our side and this he does grudgingly and only because he knows that I successfully took the previous neighbour to court to recover the costs of trimming the hedge back years ago. Anyway, his trees are planted about a foot away from the fence and between them and the fence there is rotting pieces of wood and a railway sleeper, which is pushed up hard against the old fence and seems to be pushing the timber posts over. In addition to this, the fence is covered with ivy and this creeper, which we have trimmed back ourselves several times.

I intend to write to him and inform him about our intention to get a new fence but also warn him that we won't tolerate any damage to it from anything on his property, or his failure to maintain his garden and was wondering how to word this letter and what exactly my rights are. I should also say that everytime I do write to him, I offer an olive branch as I'm sick of this dispute and wish to live in an atmosphere of mutual toleration but he's having none of it. I would appreciate and thoughts and advice from the posters here

Thanks in advance
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Re: Fence problem with nasty neighbour

Postby MacadamB53 » Thu May 08, 2014 9:30 pm

Hi seawitch,

something you mention has intrigued me:

I successfully took the previous neighbour to court to recover the costs of trimming the hedge back years ago

what was the court's decision?

as for the letter I'd go with:

Dear Terry,

I will be getting my fence replaced soon, I'll let you know dates when final arrangements are in place and will endeavour to do so well in advance to give us time to prepare.

Prior to the main job I will be removing some of by garden plants and furniture and trimming back overhanging branches and vegetation so the workmen can get things done more easily.

On a recent close inspection of the fence I noticed you have a number of items which are leaning against/attached to my fence. Although these are all technically a trespass against my property and therefore unlawful, in the grand scheme of things this is no longer worth worrying over. However, in order that none are damaged when the old fence is removed - which I would not be liable for in any event - you may want to remove them from the vicinity beforehand.

The type of fence I have decided to get is XXXXX, which I hope you agree will give both our gardens a decent level of privacy and security.

When the new fence is in place can I ask that you do not do anything to it - attach things, lean things, paint it, grow plants up it - without first asking my permission. It is, after all, my property. That is not to say I will refuse any such requests - I will consider each on its own merit.

If you are unsure about anything I've written in this note then please just ask or, if it is with regards to the legalities of the situation and what each of us has a right to do, then I politely recommend you see a solicitor.

Kind regards, seawitch

How's that?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Fence problem with nasty neighbour

Postby seawitch » Thu May 08, 2014 9:48 pm

Hi Mac and thank you for the very speedy reply. The letter sounds great, very sensible and not something that the old man could object to.

Regarding the court, I took two neighbours to the small claims court separately about 15 years ago and successfully recovered the cost of removing the overhanging branches from their 40 foot cypress trees. My house has it's garden to the side and rear of my property and so borders 4 properties from the street behind me, which contained a old cypress hedge planted many years before by the builders of their properties.

I took advice from hedgeline at the time, tried mediation which was beyond useless and then when they refused to cut back their trees, got the job done myself and passed on the bill to them and sadly had to go down the small claims route to get my money back. Thankfully the other neighbours have gone now, leaving me with just this horrible pair. He hates me because when he moved in, he was advised by his solicitors of the dispute with the previous cypress hedge and his solicitor wouldn't let him purchase the house, with the dispute in place and for some reason, he paid to have the cypress hedge removed and then promptly planted leylandii in it's place, which I find bizarre.
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Re: Fence problem with nasty neighbour

Postby MacadamB53 » Thu May 08, 2014 10:04 pm

Hi seawitch,

on what grounds did you claim the neighbour had to pay for the upkeep of your property?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Fence problem with nasty neighbour

Postby seawitch » Thu May 08, 2014 10:12 pm

The trees were the neighbour's property, not mine. The trees were trespassing, I wanted the trespass removed, they refused to do it and so I did it and reclaimed the costs back through the small claims court, It was all nice and easy
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Re: Fence problem with nasty neighbour

Postby MacadamB53 » Fri May 09, 2014 12:03 am

Hi seawitch,

I understood the trees were not yours, but all you did was cut back the branches overhanging your property?

that is something we all have a right to do.

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Fence problem with nasty neighbour

Postby seawitch » Fri May 09, 2014 7:44 am

In most cases probably, when your neighbours are reasonable and you get on with them but when the trees are too tall to manage and your neighbours are deliberately intent on making your life a misery then make them pay for it, after all, it's their property trespassing over yours. It's an easy process to go through, both judges did not hesitate in awarding me the case.
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Re: Fence problem with nasty neighbour

Postby arborlad » Fri May 09, 2014 9:32 am

seawitch wrote: I write to him regularly and ask him to trim them back, so they do not trespass over our side and this he does grudgingly and only because he knows that I successfully took the previous neighbour to court to recover the costs of trimming the hedge back years ago.



Can you tell us under what law or statute the neighbour is obligated to carry out this work.

The law on the whole likes trees and doesn't disallow a branch or twig crossing the boundary, it's good this way and is the reason we have this green and pleasant land to live in.
arborlad

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Re: Fence problem with nasty neighbour

Postby MacadamB53 » Fri May 09, 2014 9:37 am

Hi seawitch,

but when the trees are too tall to manage

I'd be interested to know whether you think my friend ought to do the same regarding his neighbour's 4' tall privet hedge.
the neighbour keeps the side facing him and the top nice and tidy, but leaves the side facing my friend untouched.
it's only about 20' long, but my friend finds he's having to get 'his' side trimmed a couple of times a year to keep it from encroaching on a flowerbed.
whenever he talks (moans) to me about it I tell him not to be petty and remind him it's just a hedge.

what do you think he should do?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Fence problem with nasty neighbour

Postby seawitch » Fri May 09, 2014 10:12 am

arborlad wrote:
seawitch wrote: I write to him regularly and ask him to trim them back, so they do not trespass over our side and this he does grudgingly and only because he knows that I successfully took the previous neighbour to court to recover the costs of trimming the hedge back years ago.



Can you tell us under what law or statute the neighbour is obligated to carry out this work.

The law on the whole likes trees and doesn't disallow a branch or twig crossing the boundary, it's good this way and is the reason we have this green and pleasant land to live in.


No, I can't. I can only tell you that when I went to court, the judge said that "a trespass is a trespass, even if it's only an inch" and awarded the case to me, just like that. He said that the law was quite clear on that.

Yes, you've got to be reasonable about things and do things properly but nuisance hedges are not reasonable, they cause distress. I have another neighbour who's oak tree is half over my garden and I don't mind about that. It's a different situation entirely but they prune it as and when it needs it, I don't touch it.
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Re: Fence problem with nasty neighbour

Postby seawitch » Fri May 09, 2014 10:16 am

MacadamB53 wrote:Hi seawitch,

but when the trees are too tall to manage

I'd be interested to know whether you think my friend ought to do the same regarding his neighbour's 4' tall privet hedge.
the neighbour keeps the side facing him and the top nice and tidy, but leaves the side facing my friend untouched.
it's only about 20' long, but my friend finds he's having to get 'his' side trimmed a couple of times a year to keep it from encroaching on a flowerbed.
whenever he talks (moans) to me about it I tell him not to be petty and remind him it's just a hedge.

what do you think he should do?

Kind regards, Mac


I think he should talk to his neighbour and explain the problem. It is very annoying to have to do someone else's gardening for them and rather bad mannered of your friend's neighbour to allow this to happen. I keep all my plants trimmed back and don't grow anything that would annoy anyone else and I expect most of us do too.

Perhaps, your friend could just mention to his neighbour that next time he trims his hedge, could he run the trimmers over his side too. It's always best to try and resolve these things in a pleasant way if at all possible and most people are reasonable
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Re: Fence problem with nasty neighbour

Postby arborlad » Fri May 09, 2014 11:28 am

seawitch wrote:

Yes, you've got to be reasonable about things and do things properly but nuisance hedges are not reasonable, they cause distress. .


.............but you've received relief from that 'distress' through the courts, what you are left with now, if the original work was carried out effectively, is just normal garden maintenance, which the judge may take a different view on.
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Re: Fence problem with nasty neighbour

Postby seawitch » Fri May 09, 2014 1:55 pm

Well, what I'm left with now, is the original hedge gone and very nice people behind me in one of the houses and a 20 - 25 ft leylandii hedge in the other garden, with creepers growing up the outside of it because it's not maintained. Now, I'm not going to risk my own safety, climbing up a ladder to maintain that, it was only planted out of spite, so let him have the fun of maintaining it.

There's a little old lady living behind me now, she lives next door to him and he's grown these trees all along her boundary too and she is not happy. He keeps them trimmed back his side but they weigh heavily on their adjoining fence, along with these creepers. Last time I spoke to her, she said she was going to have another word with him about trimming them back again. Is this little old lady expected to do all that work herself, or pay for someone to do it out of her pension?

A little bit of trimming back, is fine in most situations but cases like this are another thing. Personally, I would take responsibility for everything that I grow and would expect everyone else to do the same, it's scant politeness.
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Re: Fence problem with nasty neighbour

Postby MacadamB53 » Fri May 09, 2014 2:47 pm

Hi seawitch,

He keeps them trimmed back his side but they weigh heavily on their adjoining fence

if the hedge is damaging property then the neighbour obviously has a case to answer to.

was the trespass to your property causing damage? (the cypress trees)

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Fence problem with nasty neighbour

Postby ukmicky » Fri May 09, 2014 7:58 pm

seawitch wrote:
arborlad wrote:
seawitch wrote: I write to him regularly and ask him to trim them back, so they do not trespass over our side and this he does grudgingly and only because he knows that I successfully took the previous neighbour to court to recover the costs of trimming the hedge back years ago.



Can you tell us under what law or statute the neighbour is obligated to carry out this work.

The law on the whole likes trees and doesn't disallow a branch or twig crossing the boundary, it's good this way and is the reason we have this green and pleasant land to live in.


No, I can't. I can only tell you that when I went to court, the judge said that "a trespass is a trespass, even if it's only an inch" and awarded the case to me, just like that. He said that the law was quite clear on that.

Yes, you've got to be reasonable about things and do things properly but nuisance hedges are not reasonable, they cause distress. I have another neighbour who's oak tree is half over my garden and I don't mind about that. It's a different situation entirely but they prune it as and when it needs it, I don't touch it.



A trespass is a trespass however under the law trees do not legally trespass. Simple branch or root encroachment from a tree is legally classed as a non actionable nuisance.

If you went to court and won your case you should have bought a lottery ticket as you walked out as you had the luckiest day of your life.

By the way i said if as i cant see a court being so incompetant and making such a big legal mistake.
Last edited by ukmicky on Fri May 09, 2014 8:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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