Neighbour Dispute - Fence Issue

Neighbour Dispute - Fence Issue

Postby luckygirl » Mon May 12, 2014 8:56 am

Hi


Hoping someone can help, and point me in the right direction.


I am a landlord of a semi detached property. The property has a shared drive. A fence separates the two back gardens and continued to the start of the properties where there were two gates, level to one another, erected to enclose both back gardens. In 2008 the neighbour of the property phoned me and asked was it ok if he extended the fence further up the drive at his own cost as he wanted to move his gate further up the house make his back garden larger for his dogs. I said I was happy for him to do so as long as their was no encroachment onto my property. He said should the current tenant wish to do the same and move their gate further up the drive he would expect the tenants to contribute to the cost of the additional fence.


The tenants phoned me shortly after saying they did wish to do move the gate, so I relayed what the neighbour had said about contributing towards the costs. I did not demand they make any contribution but I did request that they initially talk things over with the neighbour before taking any action, but on that basis, I was happy for them to move the gate.


A few weeks later I get a phone call from the neighbour saying that the tenant had moved the gate without making any contact with them. I called the tenant and they agreed they had not spoken with him, but had spoken with a solicitor who confirmed to them there was no legal requirement to make any monetary contribution or liaise with the neighbour. I said that whilst nothing may have been legally required from them, at least to talk to the neighbour to advise him of your intention would have been the neighbourly thing to do, so I requested they either put it back to its original position or talk with him. They moved the gate back, and I heard nothing more from the neighbour.


These tenants were decent tenants, in that they paid their rent in full on time, and looked after the property. However once they returned the gate to the original position, they then gave notice of their intention to leave inferring that a neighbour had made life there impossible for them.


Since this time I have moved abroad and use a letting agent to manage the property.


The tenant that currently resides there has moved the gate forward again unbeknown to me and the agent, until the neighbour called the agent to complain.
The neighbour either wanted the tenant to either move the gate back or to buy another fence panel to run parallel to theirs and attach the gate to that, to which the tenant so no.


The letting agent has asked the tenant to return the gate to how she found it which she has. Again this tenant is really decent, and I am worried I will probably lose her also because of this. The tenant has said the neighbour makes life very difficult for her.


I was hoping this was an end to it seeing as the neighbour has gotten his own way both times but the neighbour has further complained that the gate has not been returned to its original position. His complaint is that although the tenant has put the gate back to where it was when she moved in, it isn't exactly back to where it was originally, ie the first tenants must not have put it back fully to the original starting position (oh I hope this is making sense, apologies if not!). He feels the gate is now 3/4 of a fence panel up from where it originally was.....yet why has he only raised this issue now, not back in 2008. Also I think I may be in breach of the tenancy agreement if the gate is now moved back to its original position as the property would not be as the tenant took it.


What he now demands is that I rent or buy the 3/4 of the fence panel from him - the distance the gate has been moved to, to which I said no.


I have now received this letter from him. As an aside there has never been any agreement between us.


As it has not been possible to resolve this matter amicably, and it is apparent that court action may be necessary, I write in compliance with the Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct.


I had an agreement with you that I would extend the dividing fence between the properties at xxx Lane on my land and at my expense, with the proviso that this fence should not be enclosed within your garden.This agreement has been breached twice; both times the gated fence has been moved forward and has then been moved back at your request. However on being moved back it has never been replaced to the original position resulting in approximately 3⁄4 of a fence panel currently being enclosed against our agreement.
From you I am claiming for an additional fence panel to be erected at xxx Lane, unattached to my fence which your gated fence can be attached to and which will enclose your garden.
Listed below are the documents on which I intend to rely in my claim against you:
 Email from Letting agent Apr 28 2014, 03:42 PM
 Email from Letting agent Apr 17 2014, 08:53 AM
 Email from Letting agent Apr 07 2014, 03:12 PM
I can confirm that I would be agreeable to mediation and would consider any other system of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in order to avoid the need for this matter to be resolved by the courts.
I would invite you to put forward any proposals in this regard.
In closing, I would draw your attention to section II (4) of the Practice Direction which gives the courts the power to impose sanctions on the parties if they fail to comply with the direction including failing to respond to this letter before claim.
I look forward to hearing from you within the next 14 days.
Should I not receive a response to my letter within this time frame then I anticipate that court action will be commenced with no further reference to you.



As a further aside, the neighbour also complained that the tenants kids have damaged the fence (that I own, so neighbour tells me, though the conveyance documents state responsibility as not known, yet I have repaired in the past) with their football, and showed pictures of repairs he had done to his side, but then told the letting agent he wasn't sure the damage was down to his dogs rather than the ball???

Also the deeds state 'not to erect or suffer to be erected and buildings fences walls gates or other structures of any kind whatsoever on any part of the said land without prior consent in writing of the company or it's solicitor.'

'not to do or commit or suffer to be committed and act or thing which shall become a nuisance annoyance or inconvenience to owners of any adjoining property'

So my questions after my rambling are

1)does the neighbour have any legal standing?
2) if so can I ask he takes the fence down given the deeds?


Many thanks for any advice
luckygirl
 
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Re: Neighbour Dispute - Fence Issue

Postby MacadamB53 » Mon May 12, 2014 11:31 am

Hi luckygirl,

I had an agreement with you that I would extend the dividing fence between the properties at xxx Lane on my land and at my expense, with the proviso that this fence should not be enclosed within your garden.

this is not what you described took place so I think there has been a misunderstanding (not helped by the fact nothing was documented).

I had an agreement with you that you could extend the dividing fence between the properties at xxx Lane at your expense, with the proviso that should my tenant at the time want to attach a gate then you would expect a financial contribution to the original expense you incurred.

anyway, as far as legal rights go - if you want to do anything with his fence then you need his permission.
a very simple solution to the issue is:

remove your existing gate and install it without attaching it to his fence/gatepost.

this is, essentially what he's trying to get to, but he needs to be told that he can remedy the trespass to his property (have your gate removed) but he is utterly misguided if he thinks he can claim money from you to pay for a fence to be erected on your land.

keep his letter as evidence that he has acknowledged ownership of the fence and send him a copy if he ever has the nerve to chase you about routine repairs/maintenance.

if 'good' tenants are consistently telling you he is a problem then gather proper evidence and find out what is happening (both parties).

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Neighbour Dispute - Fence Issue

Postby luckygirl » Mon May 12, 2014 3:28 pm

Thanks for kind reply Mac.

Have looked into the neighbour/tenant conflict issue and basically I think neighbour is rude to tenants when they move the gate, makes life unpleasant for them, bullies and intimidates as shes a single mum etc etc. also blames tenants kids for (breathing!) hitting and damaging fence with football - despite him telling me the fence is my responsibility (though the owners property information documents saying responsibility not known) and me having repaired it in the past...I therefore don't think he has a right to have a go at them about damage to what is allegedly MY fence. Neighbour also went onto say to the letting agent that maybe it was his dogs and not the kids after all that had damaged the fence - he wasn't sure. The tenant also has a dog and he objects to that despite having 2 of his own.....so its squabbles like these.

Regarding fence ownership, there are no t marks on the the plans but the deeds say ' the walls and fences separating the said land from the adjoining land shall be joint and party walls and fences and shall be used maintained and repaired as such in common with the owners for the time being of the said adjoining land.' which to my mind means we have a joint responsibility to repair.

What do you think?

Happy to move gate as you suggest but want to make sure he has no come back about anything else ie that this is an end to it, and i dont hear from him again! I know the following is pedantic, but I want to let him know he has also fallen short legally, in the hope he will be a little more compassionate (!) in the future.

My thoughts are to put the gate back as it was in 2008 (though this may put me in breach of the current tenancy agreement, as it therefore has not been rented as seen) and write him a letter stating that:

1) he should not have erected a further fence in the first place according to the deeds of the property without permission and
2)either a) he has repaired MY fence - dont think legally he is allowed to do this? Or b) if it is jointly owned he owes me for half the fence panel i bought when he claimed it was my responsibility.

Something along the lines of...

I acknowledge your letter/email dated xx/xx/xxxx and note its content

As you state I originally agreed that no objections would be given to the erection of a fence between No.xxx Lane and No. xxx Lane properties on the condition that you obtained prior consent as set out in the deeds Section xx Paragraph xx

In response to your request to consider ADR could you please supply me with copies of communications and written consent from company X or their solicitors as proof you have cause to bring this matter to the courts.

I also draw your attention to Section X Para X that states
"not to do or commit or suffer to be committed and act or thing which shall become a nuisance annoyance or inconvenience to owners of any adjoining property". I consider your actions to be in breach of this provision and seek that you discontinue forthwith.

In respect of the fence that lies between the garden of xx Lane and xx Lane, I note from photographs submitted by you that you have patched the fence with boards, due to damage potentially by your dogs. Please note that you are not legally permitted to alter or effect this fence in any way with my prior consent. Having done this puts you in breach of the law.

OR (if we have joint ownership)

In respect of the fence that lies between the garden of xx Lane and xx Lane, you will see from the deeds that we are jointly responsible for its repair. However I replaced a fence panel in 2010 at my own cost, being 60 pounds, as at the time, you advised at the time this fence was my sole responsibility and that I needed to act hastily to prevent your dogs from entering and damaging my garden. I attach the invoice for this and require reimbursement of 30 pounds with immediate effect.

Do you think this is acceptable?
luckygirl
 
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Re: Neighbour Dispute - Fence Issue

Postby MacadamB53 » Mon May 12, 2014 4:05 pm

Hi luckygirl,

the walls and fences separating the said land from the adjoining land shall be joint and party walls and fences and shall be used maintained and repaired as such in common with the owners for the time being of the said adjoining land.'

do you know whether this wording is referring to that adjoining land? (it might be referring to the other side - the other half of your semi).

if it were me, I'd just press ahead and install my own gate where I want - wholly on my land and not attached to the fence.
this would solve the issue, end of.

as to who owns the fence, that is in danger of morphing into a bona fide dispute if things carry on.
do you have any genuine desire to be the owner at present?
leave him to it - if he changes tack (likely) when it needs repairing and starts insisting it is yours then just suggest you both get that down in writing first to avoid confusion for future owners.

Kind regards, Mac
MacadamB53
 
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Re: Neighbour Dispute - Fence Issue

Postby arborlad » Mon May 12, 2014 5:11 pm

MacadamB53 wrote:...........as to who owns the fence,.............do you have any genuine desire to be the owner at present?



That is completely the wrong question, the fence occupies land and there may come a time when somebody wants to develop to the fullest extent of their land.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people
arborlad
 
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Re: Neighbour Dispute - Fence Issue

Postby MacadamB53 » Mon May 12, 2014 5:23 pm

arborlad wrote:
MacadamB53 wrote:...........as to who owns the fence,.............do you have any genuine desire to be the owner at present?



That is completely the wrong question, the fence occupies land and there may come a time when somebody wants to develop to the fullest extent of their land.

Hi arborlad,

I think you may be over-exaggerating, though I'm sure the OP values the point you're making.

Hi luckygirl,

....as to who owns the fence (and the land beneath it)........do you have any burning desire to be the owner?

Kind regards to you both, Mac
MacadamB53
 
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