Neighbour has used my fence as a retaining wall

Neighbour has used my fence as a retaining wall

Postby Northernman » Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:04 pm

I'm sure my kind problem has been featured on here before, but I would appreciate advice and opinion from anyone who has experienced a similar issue.

A couple of years ago my neighbour began work on installing a swimming pool in their back garden.
It's quite a large pool and needed a big hole !
Rather than disposing of all the excess soil my neighbour decided to use the earth to raise the height of the entire of their garden except for a patio area directly next to the house.
Along the boundary between the two properties there is a regular 6ft wooden panel fence.
We noticed that the neighbours had decided that the best way to hold back the raised earth was to just pile it up against the fence to a height approx 12 - 14 inches.
They did not build a retaining wall or speak to us regarding upgrading the fence with concrete gravel boards.
At the time (relations with them were pretty amicable back then) I went around to see them and politely asked them to stop piling up the earth.
Obviously wet earth against a fence is a recipe for disaster.
In the couple of years that have passed since then not only have they not removed the original earth, but they have built up flower beds, planted trees very close to the fence, built a patio around the pool and installed a pool heater right next to the fence.
Needless to say the obvious has happened. The lower fence panels have rotted and so have the posts.
During the high winds around Christmas a number of panels gave out and were blown over.
Before we could get this fixed we had a number of invasions by her collection of dogs (4 altogether) leaving their 'calling cards' all over our lawn.
In the area where the panels had been blown down the raised earth began to 'landslip' down into our garden.
We have since had the damaged area repaired, but only with fence posts and mesh as I don't see the point in putting anymore panels up as they too will just rot out in time.
Just last week we noticed that our neighbour has realised that the new mesh fence doesn't offer enough support for their raised beds, so they've started stuffing old slates, ceramic tiles etc, then backfilling their side with even more earth and gravel!!!
This work is obviously all done when they know that we are out.....
But when we mended the fence we informed them exactly when it would happen so that they weren't concerned by a stranger wandering around on the boundary.

Is it just me, or am I correct to assume that it's not my responsibility to provide a retaining wall for their raised beds, patio etc ?
Also, I thought that as it is my fence, my neighbour should not place anything against it, hang anything on it or even paint it on their side without my permission ?
We will be delivering a letter asking again for them to remove all the material that is against the fence, but I don't expect the they will do anything.
If there is no action on their part, what is our next move ?
Any advice appreciated.
Northernman
 
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Re: Neighbour has used my fence as a retaining wall

Postby despair » Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:27 pm

You are 100% correct

1) they must not pike soil or anything else against your fence
2) they are responsible for retaining their dogs
3) they are responsible for building proper retaining walls
4) they are responsible for the land slip and resulting damage to your property

and above all you are not responsible for replacing any form of fence or wall,

Do check very very carefully all insurances , credit cards, union memberships , mortgages for Legal Expenses Cover which i hope you have then hand it over to them to deal with
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Re: Neighbour has used my fence as a retaining wall

Postby Roblewis » Mon Jul 07, 2014 10:41 pm

Remove your chain link as it is not a retaining stucture and then get an injunction when the land slips. In the meantime write to them to keep their dogs off your property. They have the responsibility to contain them NOT you. It is gloves off time I think unfortunately.
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Re: Neighbour has used my fence as a retaining wall

Postby humptydumpty » Tue Jul 08, 2014 9:27 am

Roblewis wrote:Remove your chain link as it is not a retaining stucture and then get an injunction when the land slips. In the meantime write to them to keep their dogs off your property. They have the responsibility to contain them NOT you. It is gloves off time I think unfortunately.


I agree its "gloves off time".

Did they have planning permission for the pool?

If so what was included in this for landscaping?

Did you object?

Who piled the earth there? If it was their builder, you could speak to trading standards.

I would remove the wire fence from the fence line an position it a couple of feet back in your garden and allow the land to spill into your garden, so when officials visit they see the problem clearly (sometimes we have to see for them).

You will be needing some sort of injunction if they won't sort it willingly, so I agree, check your insurance, as you will need a solicitor I think.
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Re: Neighbour has used my fence as a retaining wall

Postby humptydumpty » Tue Jul 08, 2014 9:27 am

Roblewis wrote:Remove your chain link as it is not a retaining stucture and then get an injunction when the land slips. In the meantime write to them to keep their dogs off your property. They have the responsibility to contain them NOT you. It is gloves off time I think unfortunately.


I agree its "gloves off time".

Did they have planning permission for the pool?

If so what was included in this for landscaping?

Did you object?

Who piled the earth there? If it was their builder, you could speak to trading standards.

I would remove the wire fence from the fence line an position it a couple of feet back in your garden and allow the land to spill into your garden, so when officials visit they see the problem clearly (sometimes we have to see for them).

You will be needing some sort of injunction if they won't sort it willingly, so I agree, check your insurance, as you will need a solicitor I think.
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Re: Neighbour has used my fence as a retaining wall

Postby jonahinoz » Wed Jul 09, 2014 8:00 am

Hi,

I would have thought that, even without the pool, PP would have been required to raise the level of their garden.

Water rates?

John W
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Re: Neighbour has used my fence as a retaining wall

Postby humptydumpty » Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:00 am

jonahinoz wrote:Hi,

I would have thought that, even without the pool, PP would have been required to raise the level of their garden.

Water rates?

John W


I agree, also if the pool is heated, has pumps fitted, lights, etc then a building warrant would have been required. So building control dept of local council could be approached, they will probably say that soil banked up is not their problem (I think it could be), but they may advise a course of action. They may come out and inspect.
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Re: Neighbour has used my fence as a retaining wall

Postby Northernman » Mon Jul 14, 2014 12:41 pm

Hi,
Thank you for your comments. It's very reassuring to hear people''s views.

A few days ago a letter was delivered to my neighbour politely asking them to remove all the earth that's piled against the fence.
I would like to give them every opportunity keep this amicable if possible.
As yet there has been no response or any work done to remove the offending earth/gravel.

I'll probably wait a week or so and if there is no response then there will be a stronger letter pointing out the legal implications of their actions, and we'll take it from there......!
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Re: Neighbour has used my fence as a retaining wall

Postby MacadamB53 » Mon Jul 14, 2014 1:24 pm

Hi Northernman,

I'll probably wait a week or so and if there is no response then there will be a stronger letter pointing out the legal implications of their actions, and we'll take it from there

I'm confused - just what did letter include if it didn't set out the legal implications?

did it even include a deadline?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Neighbour has used my fence as a retaining wall

Postby Northernman » Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:30 pm

Hi Mac,
We gave them a week to respond.
We've lived next door to these people for 12 years and up until recently it's been quite amicable.
The purpose of the letter we've just sent was really a last attempt to appeal to their better nature and try to get them to understand that we are not happy about their continuing disregard of our property.
To be honest I'd rather this was all settled without involving solicitors, courts, criminal damage charges etc,etc. I'd rather not have the hassle.
We are well covered in respect to legal insurance so that aspect is no problem.
I'm not sure at the moment if our neighbours are aware that you just can't do the kind of thing they are doing or just don't care.
It seems that anyone with any sense would understand that you just can't do the kind of things they have without consulting your neighbours at the very least !
If they are not aware of the laws involved and do not act, then our next letter will point everything out to them in fine detail.
If they just don't care, then obviously we will be forced to eventually take the solicitor route.

In answer to a couple of other posts:
1. I believe that Swimming Pools now fall under Permitted Development so do not require planning permission. Their pool is not more than 50% of the area of the garden curtilage, so is permitted I believe.
They didn't officially consult us about the pool although we knew it was going on. Their first attempt at building a pool collapsed because they left it without any water in it for too long.............!
2. Water Rates - We are on meters so they will have been billed for every drop that's in it.
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Re: Neighbour has used my fence as a retaining wall

Postby MacadamB53 » Tue Jul 15, 2014 3:07 pm

Hi Northernman,

I'm not sure at the moment if our neighbours are aware that you just can't do the kind of thing they are doing

then why did you not do the decent thing and explain this in your friendly letter - it can be done without being officious or cold you know...

Their pool is not more than 50% of the area of the garden curtilage

but what about the pool + any ponds + any sheds + any house extensions + any other buildings + any >30cm tall patios/decking/platforms - do they add up to >50% of the curtilage (the total area of his land minus the footprint of the original house)?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Neighbour has used my fence as a retaining wall

Postby MacadamB53 » Tue Jul 15, 2014 4:34 pm

nothingtodowithme wrote:
Roblewis wrote:Remove your chain link as it is not a retaining stucture and then get an injunction when the land slips. In the meantime write to them to keep their dogs off your property. They have the responsibility to contain them NOT you. It is gloves off time I think unfortunately.



I strongly agree with this post and IMHO this is what you need to be focusing on!

+1
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Re: Neighbour has used my fence as a retaining wall

Postby ukmicky » Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:13 pm

Keep the chainlink as it is defining the boundaries and if theY were to build a retaining wall you dont want it encroaching on your land . Gain an injunction forcing them to stop using your fence as a retaining structure without your permision
Advice given is not legally qualified and you are advised to gain a professional opinion
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Re: Neighbour has used my fence as a retaining wall

Postby MacadamB53 » Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:23 pm

ukmicky wrote:Keep the chainlink as it is defining the boundaries and if theY were to build a retaining wall you dont want it encroaching on your land . Gain an injunction forcing them to stop using your fence as a retaining structure without your permision

Hi ukmicky,

leave the posts in and attach a line of wire....

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Neighbour has used my fence as a retaining wall

Postby ukmicky » Thu Jul 17, 2014 7:11 pm

MacadamB53 wrote:
ukmicky wrote:Keep the chainlink as it is defining the boundaries and if theY were to build a retaining wall you dont want it encroaching on your land . Gain an injunction forcing them to stop using your fence as a retaining structure without your permision

Hi ukmicky,

leave the posts in and attach a line of wire....

Kind regards, Mac


That will do. The main thing is to ensure no argument can occur over where the boundary lies.
Advice given is not legally qualified and you are advised to gain a professional opinion
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