Party Fence - neighbour unhappy

Party Fence - neighbour unhappy

Postby Collaborate » Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:15 am

Hi. First time post. I do hope someone has the answer. Sorry for the length of this post.

The boundary between our house and the neighbours consists of both a party wall and party fences (according to the deeds) front and rear.

3 years ago the back fence, which had rotted away, was replaced. We had a quote for a like for like replacement (concrete posts, two horizontal timer supports and panels nailed on), which we preferred, but they wanted a concrete base and panels. Their quote was quite a bit more expensive than ours (partly because what they wanted refencing extended beyond the back edge of our garden), so they agreed that we'd pay half of our quote and they'd pay the balance. Without consulting us however they raised the height of the completed fence from 4' to over 7'. Further, the fence wasn't straight and rather than end at a party wall (effectively their outhouse) it ran approx. 4 ' into our garden (flush with their outhouse). We didn't say anything at the time, both to preserve neighbourly relations and, well, life's too short.

Fast forward to now, the front fence needs replacing. The old one is concrete posts with double sided panels attached to the sides of each post, with no concrete base. We got a quote to replace it and spoke to the neighbours. They wanted to ensure that the fence had a concrete base so I confirmed that with the fencer. They also wanted the height raised a few inches in the house side of the fence to hide, from their side, a bike shed on our side. We didn't have a problem with that, and the quote was increased slightly for the added height.

The neighbours then queried the cost, saying they thought is was expensive (£565 for 36') and comparing it to what they paid for the back fence. I thought they were suggesting we get the same people in who did the back fence, and explained why we didn't want to use them in view of the poor work they'd done. I got a series of text messages, the most significant bit being that they couldn't proceed for now as they wanted to get one of their other fences done first.

We needed to get something done fairly promptly, as we are having our drive done. By now we're communicating by text. I said we're happy to get the half nearest the road (that is against the drive) done ourselves now on the basis that they get the remainder done when convenient to them, and we'd be happy for them to build id up 6" higher. I got no response, so arranged for that half of the fence to be replaced 2 days later.

They appear to now be very upset. There was a detail in how the work was carried out (which will be fixed this week) in relation to the positioning of the posts. They are also upset that the "nice" side is facing us (to be honest there's very little difference in a 2' panel, topped with a trellis) and have threatened to turn them round (the "nice" side faces them in the back as well). They complain about a lack of consultation (a tad hypocritical bearing in mind how they did the back fence). However we do now have half the fence replaced by a new fence with concrete base and trellis, to the same height as the old one. They have said that they intend (in addition to turning the panels around) to build the remainder of the fence 2' higher. We would object to that, as we have a window that looks out over that fence.

My main question is this. Given it is a party fence, if there is no agreement as to how high the fence should be, must it be rebuilt to the same height as the last one, or can they build it (subject to planning) any height they want? Under s2(2)(l) of the PWA it appears that either owner can raise a party fence wall. Is this however a structure that is covered by the PWA?

Any help would be gratefully appreciated.

TIA.
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Re: Party Fence - neighbour unhappy

Postby MacadamB53 » Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:00 am

Hi Collaborate,

just because the original fences and walls were declared party structures you are not bound by any law or otherwise to replace them with more party structures.

in other words, if you need a new fence round the front just build it on your own land - job done.

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Party Fence - neighbour unhappy

Postby arborlad » Thu Feb 26, 2015 11:01 am

MacadamB53 wrote:
in other words, if you need a new fence round the front just build it on your own land - job done.

Kind regards, Mac



Can't be done - not without loss of land.

Duplication of boundary features is never a good idea.
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Re: Party Fence - neighbour unhappy

Postby Collaborate » Thu Feb 26, 2015 11:20 am

Thanks for the replies.

We've already rebuilt half the party fence, so we're not about to move that 2 inches over on to our side. Whether or not next door turn around the fence panels is not a major concern. If I get worked up about that I'd have to take a serious look at myself (and his actions would say more about him than me).

My main question is whether one side of a party fence can unilaterally increase the height of the fence (by replacing it) in the face of the opposition of the other side. My reading of the Act leaves me still in the dark.I appreciate they could build the higher fence on their side of the boundary, but their side slopes down at a 45 degree angle so they're limited by planning law in the height of the new fence, and it would look a little lower from my side.
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Re: Party Fence - neighbour unhappy

Postby mr sheen » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:50 pm

Neighbours can negotiate and agree what type of fence and it's height within the rules of the LA or they can unilaterally put one up as they want it and pay for it. If you want to choose the height, you can finish off the fence as you want it and pay, or accept that they can do the same if they choose to. If you leave them to do it, they will pay and hence get to choose.
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Re: Party Fence - neighbour unhappy

Postby Collaborate » Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:09 pm

So from what you say they can't change the panels round but can put a 6' fence up nearer the house? Is there anything, in theory, stopping them removing our fence and putting their own one up? This could go on forever with 2 intransigent neighbours.
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Re: Party Fence - neighbour unhappy

Postby mr sheen » Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:21 pm

They shouldn't interfere with your fence since in theory that may amount to criminal damage....but getting the police to take themselves away from murder/assault/rape/burglary investigations to deal with the turning round of fence panels or removing a fence may not be met with a lot of sympathy!!!

Your only real action would be civil action and taking a neighbour to court for changing a fence would probably be frowned upon as trivial and the cost may be out of proportion of the value of the fence.

Neighbours are expected to be reasonable and compromise and respect each other's choices and be tolerant.

Persistently intransigent neighbours deserve each other and make each other's lives a misery for months....years.....decades.
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Re: Party Fence - neighbour unhappy

Postby MacadamB53 » Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:36 pm

Hi Collaborate,

My reading of the Act leaves me still in the dark.

that's because fences have got jack all to do with the PWA.

you suggest this could go on forever - how could it if you took down the 'party' fence and erected your own fence wholly on your own land? (granted there'd be 2" of land 'lost' but no duplicated boundary feature...)

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Party Fence - neighbour unhappy

Postby Collaborate » Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:36 pm

Food for thought. Thanks all.
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Re: Party Fence - neighbour unhappy

Postby arborlad » Fri Jul 31, 2015 10:09 am

Is this now satisfactorily resolved?
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Re: Party Fence - neighbour unhappy

Postby Collaborate » Fri Jul 31, 2015 10:22 am

arborlad wrote:Is this now satisfactorily resolved?


Sort of. They didn't turn round the fence panels, though they did replace the remainder of the fence 2' higher than the original, against my wishes. I'd found, meanwhile, advice on a government website to say that fences owned jointly or built straddling the boundary should not be rebuilt different from the original without the consent of both estate owners. I'll try and find a link.

I'm not too bothered with the higher fence, as the top foot is trellis. We did have an issue when they wanted to remove a post I'd just had put in (same height as original) to build their higher part of the fence. I'd just had our drive base concreted up to the post, and said they could replace it provided they made good any damage caused to the concrete (we were waiting for our finishing surface to be applied). He kicked off then, saying he wouldn't be responsible for any damage. Unfortunately their conduct over this was characterised by him next door only coming round when he was angry and in a mood to get all shouty.

Luckily they used the fencing guys we've been using for years, and they did a great job causing no damage whatsoever.
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Re: Party Fence - neighbour unhappy

Postby Collaborate » Fri Jul 31, 2015 10:30 am

Found it: It's from the Land Registry. Para 8 of this:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publicati ... pplement-3

There are various notions that the way a wall or fence is constructed indicates ownership, for example that the posts and arris rails of a fence are on the owner’s side. There is, however, no legal foundation for such beliefs. Deeds may contain covenants to maintain a wall or fence but on their own, such covenants do not confer ownership. Where the ownership or responsibility for maintenance of a boundary cannot be determined, that boundary feature is generally best regarded as a party boundary. Any alterations or replacement of the boundary should only be done with the agreement of the adjoining owners.
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Re: Party Fence - neighbour unhappy

Postby mr sheen » Fri Jul 31, 2015 1:54 pm

Such guidance is very nice when all parties accept it and abide by it but what 'should ' happen May not and then one is faced with negotiating to a suitable outcome, throwing money at the issue by embarking on legal action to settle what can and can't be done, accept what has happened and move on, or move.
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