At least they left the fence posts

At least they left the fence posts

Postby takeafence » Tue May 03, 2016 4:01 pm

Like many posting here, we are after some advice. We own the fence at the back of our property, which borders an area at the back of a neighbour . The fence is marked as ours on the deeds and the neighbour does not dispute the ownership. The fence is constructed of concrete posts and base panels with 6x5 wooden panels in between the posts.

For many years the area at the back of the neighbour was unloved and overgrown. We used to cut back such as large brambles that grew across from it. We had no issue with doing that though, just got on with it.

A few years ago the neighbour decided to bring that area back into use as garden, and has pressed us on a number of occasions to change the fence panels because they did not like the look of them. A significant part of that is down to their failure to maintain the area. We did not want to change the panels because it looked fine from our perspective and also matches the fence at the side of our property. There was also nothing preventing them putting up their own fence on their own property.

The neighbour has gone ahead and changed the panels without consent and knowing it was not their fence. After three months of complaint they have at least oriented the panels so that it closer resembles our side fence. After six months of asking for legal ownership of the new panels, they say they will, but then don’t give it.

Is this going to be legal issue for us going forward? Would they be able to make a joint ownership claim in the future? Might we subsequently have problems such as selling our house because the fence ownership does not match the deeds?

Can we claim ownership of the panels if they remain on our posts for a period of time ?

If we go through the process of notification - removing their panels and return them to them - instate our own panels - charge them for the work (probably subsequently via small claims for around £500), what’s to stop them simply reinstating their panels again at any point in this process?

The irony is our neighbour is a national organisation that preaches about good neighbourliness, but does not want to listen to a neighbour when they might be in the wrong themselves. Could we perhaps charge them a rent for “storing their fence panels on our fence posts”? I am thinking that we could use any money to make charitable donations to their rival groups.
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Re: At least they left the fence posts

Postby mr sheen » Tue May 03, 2016 4:36 pm

They changed the panels and gave you the nice side at no cost to you....and yet you complain!

They paid for the panels so they own them. Markers on deeds are pretty meaningless.

No you have no case against them....he who wants a new fence pays for it...and they did.
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Re: At least they left the fence posts

Postby takeafence » Tue May 03, 2016 5:02 pm

From our perspective it looked better before than it does now. It is bright orange.

Can you just remove and destroy someone else's property because you don't like the look of it? I am confused.
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Re: At least they left the fence posts

Postby Collaborate » Tue May 03, 2016 5:04 pm

While I'm sure many may see this as a storm in a teacup, there is perhaps an important principle at stake here - i.e. that the owner of a boundary feature has the right to determine how that should look.

takeafence understandably wishes to have a fence look the same along the whole of one edge of the garden. That is not unreasonable.

What is unreasonable is the neighbour forcing a change upon takeafence. Then claiming ownership of what has been installed. Possibly they may next feel that they can remove the fence entirely and replace it with one of a style and height of their choosing.

OP - give an inch and they may take a mile. Or they may not. You don't know at this stage.

I think what you need to make clear to them, in writing, is that the fence belongs to you, and unless they are prepared to acknowledge that :

1. The new panels also belong to you, and
2. they will not, in the future, interfere with the fence in any way

you will require them to take back the new panels and reinstate your fence as it was before they wrongly removed it.

If you can't reach an agreement then the only option would be for you to take it to court and seek a declaration as to ownership - for the sake of a simple fence this would be a monumental folly, and you would incur not just substantial legal costs but also the wrath of the judge.
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Re: At least they left the fence posts

Postby arborlad » Tue May 03, 2016 5:18 pm

takeafence wrote: The neighbour has gone ahead and changed the panels without consent and knowing it was not their fence.



The whole of the fence, posts and panels, were yours before any changes.

The whole of the fence, posts and panels, remains yours.
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Re: At least they left the fence posts

Postby takeafence » Tue May 03, 2016 5:24 pm

It's actually reassuring me to have seen such a wide range of opinions on this matter already. Thanks for the comments already received.
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Re: At least they left the fence posts

Postby arborlad » Tue May 03, 2016 5:36 pm

mr sheen wrote:They paid for the panels so they own them. .



Only if they can prove they own the posts they are attached to.
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Re: At least they left the fence posts

Postby dantheaxeman » Wed May 04, 2016 7:54 am

Taking someones fence panels is theft. Their defence is that they have done no harm as they have replaced them at their expense.
They can claim that the new fence panels are theirs; unfortunately this would leave them open to the original theft claim.
It would also be a trespass to own a fence on someone else's land with the additional point that arborlad made that using your fence posts as support would also be a trespass.

From what I understand, they have recognised that you own the fence, so they are going to have a difficult time arguing that you don't. I would write to them explaining that you do not like the colour of the new panels and giving them the choice of either reinstating your old panels or footing the bill when you have your fence painted in a colour of your choice.

It sounds like reinstating the original panels is an unlikely option ;)

Thanks, Dan
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Re: At least they left the fence posts

Postby arborlad » Thu May 05, 2016 7:07 am

takeafence wrote: We did not want to change the panels because it looked fine from our perspective and also matches the fence at the side of our property.



A frequent issue where appearance, aesthetics, privacy etc., are give greater prominence than ownership.



After six months of asking for legal ownership of the new panels, they say they will, but then don’t give it.



You do not need to ask for ownership, it is yours as of right. What happened to the removed panels?



There was also nothing preventing them putting up their own fence on their own property.



Never a good idea and invariably leads to other problems.
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Re: At least they left the fence posts

Postby cleo5 » Thu May 05, 2016 12:57 pm

Just read this and were it my fence and someone did this to me , and I had the money ,I would get a fencer up immediately to remove carefully all the panels and stack them on the neighbour's land before erecting suitable panels to your specification and the colour/type you want.

Two men- a days work maybe more.
Then you plant a nice clematis to provide interest.
Job done and all sorted. NO further conversation with that particular neighbour.
Your land , your fence.
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Re: At least they left the fence posts

Postby Collaborate » Thu May 05, 2016 1:38 pm

cleo5 wrote:Your land , your fence.


And OP's wallet too.
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Re: At least they left the fence posts

Postby cleo5 » Thu May 05, 2016 2:39 pm

I know, but what if OP should want to move any time soon?
Have to declare neighbour disputes I think.
What does OP say"We own the back fence posts and it's our boundary but the neighbour paid for the fence so might claim it's hers/his?"
Is all the aggro worth it.
Some things are best sorted even if it costs and you can't afford it.

ON the orange blossom coast of Spain (Orepesa) each little farmers plot is marked with a big pinkish/ white stone and no one encroaches one foot over anothers. What have they got that we haven't? Honesty , integrity and decency perhaps.
Yes I accept it might have changed there by now.

No one has to have a fence or wall. Just a boundary. Unless it's specified in the deeds.

Either op accepts neighbours fence panels or pays to have her own erected thus proclaiming her ownership.
Or don't bother any further. Let them do what they will. Or ask for her panels back and nail them up on theirs.
A solicitor's advice would be costly and might not help.
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Re: At least they left the fence posts

Postby Collaborate » Thu May 05, 2016 2:50 pm

I agree that a solicitors letter kind of defeats the point (by spending money), but the crucial point still stands - why should OP have to pay to replace the panels when the original panels that belonged to them were perfectly up to the task? They should not have to choose a style of panel that meets with the approval of the neighbour. They started all of this as owners of their perfectly adequate boundary fence, and that is how they remain. It's simply a matter of making that clear to the neighbour.
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Re: At least they left the fence posts

Postby cleo5 » Thu May 05, 2016 3:10 pm

Collaborate ,
I agree with all you say but sometimes you have to pay for peace of mind. I've been there/done it.
OP made the mistake of letting the new fence stand for even a day. She/He should have immediately insisted on it's removal and replacement of the original.And then had nothing further to do with them.
All she can do now is either accept the situation or protest.
Where are her old panels now?
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Re: At least they left the fence posts

Postby mr sheen » Thu May 05, 2016 3:57 pm

She had a fence before and has a fence now.....so no losses consequently any talk of solicitors/court etc is absolute nonsense and waste of money as the best you get is put in same position as before but OP is in better (legally) position than befor with new panels. Any correspondence etc will create a dispute that would have to be declared later whereas as it stands there is no dispute to declare unless the OP wants to kick off one.
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