Fence Problems with Neighbour - Help needed please.

Fence Problems with Neighbour - Help needed please.

Postby 300te » Tue Dec 13, 2016 2:30 pm

Hi

Apologies but this is a bit complex (maybe not)

We bought our house in 2000. The house is one of two houses that shared a single plot of land which is rural in location. The seller of our house also owned the house next door that shared the land. On purchasing it was always understood that we had to erect a boundary fence of " Post & Rail" construction on the boundary between our properties - effectively dividing the shared plot into two plots, one with each house. This was written into the deed of sale. We had the fence erected as instructed using bored holes and a "Post & Rail Fence" This fence and it's construction were/are of a very high standard and vacuum treated etc. Nice to look at and it creates a boundary that both parties have been happy with since 2000. We have maintained the fence without question or debate with one exception when our neighbour tethered his horses to the fence. The horses were spooked and manages to pull out some of the rails, which our neighbour put back using nails etc without any argument. Perfect harmony in the countryside!!

However all was not well here. After buying the house we were plagued with power cuts and (what we believed to be) exceptionally high electricity and water bills. Having asked both the utility companies to investigate, it was discovered that our neighbour (who sold us the house) was connected to our water and electricity supplies and had been for some two years. This was done by a series of underground pipes and cables. When this was put to him, he at first denied any knowledge, then said it was mistake and must have happened without his knowledge before we bought the house. Hmmmmmmm.

To keep the peace we made no further noise (we had not had a row) but he knew we were not best pleased.

In 2014, I was admitted to hospital with Cancer. My neighbour (who knew I was in hospital) hired some fencing contractors and without any discussion or permission or consultation, with myself or my wife, proceeded to nail 2 meter high fence panels onto his side of our Post and Rail fence, effectively using our fence as a support for his panels (he used no posts). When the work started, my wife asked the contractors why they were on our land (they had climbed over the fence) without our permission? They replied that "they had his permission" and he had said " it would be OK, he's in hospital". He has since attached a variety of plant frames to his fence panels with large creeping pants growing up them. He has caused considerable damage to our posts and the rails which have split where his nails have come directly through them from his side.

Now the weight of his 2 meter panels and the attached plants has caused the entire fence to start to collapse onto his land. The panels are like sails in the wind and the constant rocking has caused the posts to become unseated. This is a fence that cost more than £4000 to erect and runs for approximately 200 meters.

My attempts to discuss this with him failed, he didn't turn up to arranged meetings or answer calls. On advice, we sent a friendly (not at all hostile) Solicitors letter stating, that as he damaged the fence he would now be deemed to have taken on all financial responsibility for it. He ignored the letter (sent registered and signed for)

He is now texting me and calling me saying he wants to discuss how I can contribute to fixing the fence? I have made it plain I will not be contributing. But he will not give up with his calls or texts.

I am ill - very ill. Having had major cancer surgery and undergone over a year of chemotherapy. This is proving a stress to far for me and wife.

What to do? We want to live here!! But are being pushed out and feel that this is his real agenda. He acts like he still owns both properties - tossing wildlife that he shoots onto our land etc. We have also now started to receive really nasty, but almost juvenile, poison pen letters telling my wife to move away. The Police are happy that they come from him but cannot prove it, so we are stuck.

I do not care if there is a fence there or not. But he does and he insisted that it was put there in the deeds. Now having trashed it, he wants me to pay to repair/replace it.

We have never antagonised him or his family or given them any reason to behave badly towards us. All our other neighbours are shocked and sympathetic but rightly do not wish to get embroiled.

What are my legal rights here with this fence?
300te
 
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Re: Fence Problems with Neighbour - Help needed please.

Postby nigelrb » Tue Dec 13, 2016 3:25 pm

Hi. Simplified, you had a post and rail fence that was constructed in accordance with an agreement and noted into the 'deed of sale'. If the neighbour has erected anything other than is your obligation under said deed, then MY VIEW is that you have no obligation to any maintenance and repair, other than of the ORIGINAL post and rail. Certainly, neighbourly harmony would have seen the neighbour at least speak to you prior to erecting panels affixed to that post and rail. Given that he did not do that, it seems that he is merely trying to take advantage of you.

Unfortunately, there is no remedy other than initiating civil action for damage of YOUR post and rail fence. That, of course, is an expensive and non-productive route, and one that would be entertained by very few solicitors.

Whilst I do not purport to offer 'definitive' advice, my feeling is that you really have to either stand your ground and refuse to contribute, or, to allay fears over your ailing health, just pay the guy. (Problem there is that demands will never end!)

As a final thought, I wonder if your local Citizens Advice Bureau might offer help?
Life is never what it seems; there is always two sides to every story.
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Re: Fence Problems with Neighbour - Help needed please.

Postby 300te » Tue Dec 13, 2016 11:20 pm

Nigel

Thank you for your reply. To be absolutely clear here with your response. You say "you have no obligation to any maintenance and repair, other than of the ORIGINAL post and rail"

By that are saying that I am still liable to repair the original post & rail fence that my neighbour damaged by nailing his fence panels onto it?

I understood that in damaging the original fence by nailing his fence to it and, in not seeking my permission to do so, he has accepted all financial ownership of the original fence. Or, I could take action for Criminal Damage.

I need to be certain of my facts here.
300te
 
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Re: Fence Problems with Neighbour - Help needed please.

Postby despair » Wed Dec 14, 2016 12:05 am

your only responsibility was to maintain the original post and rail fence

that does not mean you can possibly be held responsible now that the neighbour has damaged the original fence and added what amounts to sails furthuring the damage

i do not understand why the police refuse to act over the letters and texts and what so clearly amounts to threats and blackmail
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Re: Fence Problems with Neighbour - Help needed please.

Postby Collaborate » Wed Dec 14, 2016 12:44 am

From your original post it seems your only obligation was to erect a fence. Unless the deed also said you had to maintain it then you need do nothing.

If you also have to maintain it it would be your neighbours who would be able to take action to enforce what would be a positive covenant. As they were responsible, however, by their trespass for the fence failing, I think they would get short shrift from a judge. Take lots of photos in case you need them for future evidence.
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Re: Fence Problems with Neighbour - Help needed please.

Postby 300te » Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:51 am

despair wrote:

i do not understand why the police refuse to act over the letters and texts and what so clearly amounts to threats and blackmail


In fairness to the Police here. They did take the matter very seriously due to the threats contained within the letters. There were several " clues" within the letters that pointed to our neighbour or his family being the authors & senders. But to progress it then the Police would have had to actually make an accusation with little proof other than the fact that he was the only person with any gripe/motive and the clues within the letters pointed at him.

I have arranged to meet him, which he accepted but then without notice failed to show up. Sending me text the next day simply saying he " got diverted". When he calls I have asked hm to explain what exactly he wishes to discuss about the fence? His response is always the same "lets meet and talk about it". I suspect he feels that in meeting he can intimidate me (wrong) but he then fails to show at the meetings. It is like a game. The fence is collapsing onto his property and he will want to have the corrected. He has told other neighbours that he believes that I should be paying to have the fence repaired to his liking as it is "my fence"
300te
 
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Re: Fence Problems with Neighbour - Help needed please.

Postby COGGY » Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:22 pm

Hi

Please accept my sympathy at the position you are now in. You need your energy to look after your health. Do you have Records of the times the police have been involved? I feel you should ask the police to refer you to Victim Support. It may be that you can contact them yourself, but you need all the help available at present. Would it be possible for you to have cctv cameras installed? We have them across the boundary and the local police attended and confirmed that the cameras abide by the law. Your neighbour is a bully and I feel at present you should not have any contact with him. You have erected the fence, he has damaged/destroyed it. You are not bothered about having a fence. If you are able to have cctv cameras installed this would send a strong message to your neighbour. It is amazing how differently people act when the fear of being recorded comes into play.

Do you have any friends or family who may be able to mediate on your behalf? If not then I feel you should refuse to mediate at present. Simply state that you have offered several times to mediate, which has been refused by the neighbour, and must now put your health first. This is perfectly reasonable.

Please keep all the letters you have received. The police may have copies but you keep all the originals. If these letters continue then you imo should continue to contact the police regarding the letters. It often depends on the individual person who deals with the matter on behalf of the police how the matter is dealt with.

Therefore my advice is
Victim Support
Keep all letters in your control
cctv
No contact with neighbour

The advice above to contact Citizens Advice is also very good advice. Keep strong.

Kind regards Coggy
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Re: Fence Problems with Neighbour - Help needed please.

Postby nigelrb » Wed Dec 14, 2016 4:28 pm

300te wrote:Nigel

Thank you for your reply. To be absolutely clear here with your response. You say "you have no obligation to any maintenance and repair, other than of the ORIGINAL post and rail"

By that are saying that I am still liable to repair the original post & rail fence that my neighbour damaged by nailing his fence panels onto it?



No, I referred to the original fence in its ORIGINAL state only (which I understand has long passed). No way should you be accountable for that portion of the fence that the neighbour has defaced/destroyed.
Life is never what it seems; there is always two sides to every story.
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