Problem with rear fence

Problem with rear fence

Postby Growlybear » Sat Jan 07, 2017 4:57 pm

I should be really grateful if anyone could please give me a little guidance regarding a problem that has arisen with my mother's rear fence. I have downloaded the title plan for my mum's house from the Land Registry, but there is no indication of whether she is responsible for the fence in question; for various reasons, it will be difficult to obtain a copy of the title deeds quickly, and my mum is very worried by letter she has received from a neighbour.

The house is located in a cul de sac, and together with four other houses, backs onto the side of the last house on the road which the cul de sac branches off from (hope that makes sense!). My mother has three fence panels at the rear of her garden, backing onto the side of the house in the other road. Two of the panels blew down in strong winds last winter, and one of her neighbours put them up again for her quickly, but not before the neighbour at the rear delivered a fairly terse letter telling her that she must get the fence repaired immediately.

The fence panels are a few years old, and are a bit scruffy, but are not particularly damaged. The two which blew down last year are still securely in place. My mum was very distressed at the end of last week to have an extremely aggressive and intimidating, unsigned letter put through her door by the owner of the house she backs onto, complaining about the condition of her rear fence, and demanding that she replaces it. The woman seems to think that my mum is responsible for a fox, or some other animal, burrowing underneath one the panels (the one which did not blow down last winter) and pooping on her lawn! She also expressed concern that her dog might be able to get out of her garden if my mother doesn't replace the panels. My mum is disabled and will be 90 in a couple of months, and is very distressed by the letter she has received. The neighbour who put her fence back up last winter told her that he has a copy of his title deeds, and the owner of the house at the back has responsibility for maintaining what is their side fence and the rear fence of the five houses adjoining my mum.

I wondered if there are any general principles about responsibility for rear fences? Is it likely that my mum will be obliged to replace the fence if it is not in complete disrepair? Any advice that I can give her to try to reassure her would be very gratefully received. Thank you for reading.
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Re: Problem with rear fence

Postby MacadamB53 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 6:22 pm

Hi Growlybear,

there are no "general" principles about rear fences, side fences, or any fences.

the fence occupies a sliver of land - whoever owns that land owns the fence.

if your mother owns it she can either replace it, remove it or leave it - and because it's hers it's not the concern of the neighbour on the other side of the fence.

if your mother doesn't own it it's not her concern.

either way, if the neighbour wants to protect their land they should erect their own boundary features where any belonging to others are lacking which they could've benefited from...

in other words, the shouty-shouty neighbour needs to rein their neck in.

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Problem with rear fence

Postby Rowan » Sat Jan 07, 2017 6:33 pm

Additional to Mac's post above -

Your mother is not responsible for a wild animal (fox or other) digging holes under the fence - nor it pooping on the neighbour's grass

It is also the responsibility of the neighbour to retain their dog in their own garden - it most certainly NOT you mother's responsibility

'Shouty' neighbour needs to take responsibility for their own property, garden and dog - and not try to off-load that on to another neighbour
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Re: Problem with rear fence

Postby Growlybear » Sat Jan 07, 2017 10:24 pm

Thank you so much for your quick replies. I'm sure my mum will feel much less worried now. :)
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Re: Problem with rear fence

Postby despair » Sun Jan 08, 2017 12:30 am

ditto

i would be writing the nasty neighbour a very terse letter pointing out that since its her fence(you could download a copy of the neighbours deeds from land registry to prove it ) and she is dog owner its entirely up to her to retain her own dog

that if she persists in distressing your mother you will have her charged with harassment
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Re: Problem with rear fence

Postby COGGY » Sun Jan 08, 2017 10:22 am

Hi

Despair said
that if she persists in distressing your mother you will have her charged with harassment

+ 1
Coggy
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Re: Problem with rear fence

Postby nigelrb » Sun Jan 08, 2017 3:32 pm

Didn't 'Growly' say that he/she hasn't yet established ownership of the fence?

Either way though, if the panels are restored to a servicable condition, that's all they need do. They simply mark a boundary. As other contributors have said, it is up to the neighbour to restrain their dog, not up to Growly's mum to keep it at bay. This surely seems a 'try on' by the neighbour.
Life is never what it seems; there is always two sides to every story.
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Re: Problem with rear fence

Postby jonahinoz » Sun Jan 08, 2017 7:52 pm

Hi Growlybear

To emphasise what Mac said ...

THERE IS NO LAW WHICH SAYS YOU MUST HAVE FENCE.

Your mother could, if she wanted, remove the fence, chop it into little pieces, and have a bon-fire. IF she wanted, she could then hang a pink ribbon across the end of her garden, where the fence was, or have nothing ... which might make it difficult to locate the , Anything your mother does, must be on her side of the boundary. Anything your neighbour does must be on his side of the boundary. The boundary is an invisble line, with no thickness, showing where your mother's garden ends, and her neighbours garden starts (and vice versa).

If your mother so chose, she could erect a fence or wall, up to two metres high, on her side of the boundary, and paint the side facing the neighbours garden in a Harlequin pattern. Her neighbour would not be allowed to paint the side facing him, nor put nails or screws in it, nor tie plants against it, nor may his kids kick a ball against it. He would have the option of erecting another fence, close to your mother's fence (but on his own property) so that he doesn't have to look at the pretty pattern.

As for his dog ... he is responsible for any injury it inflicts, and any damage it does to your mother's garden (unless, possibly, it enters her garden from the public highway) (where it shouldn't be anyway) Her neighbour would be wise to have Public Liability insurance for his dog. Your mother's neighbour has acknowledged , in writing, that he anticipates his dog will able to roam from his garden. Keep that letter. If the dog enters your mother's garden, and performs a "nuisance", it would be useful if it could be photographed in the act. I believe Dog Wardens can DNA test such "nuisances" (whatever turns you on. :? ) but I don't know if their authority extends to private property.

John W
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Re: Problem with rear fence

Postby Growlybear » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:50 pm

I really am so grateful to everyone for taking the time to reply. I will be going to my mum’s tomorrow, and we will draft an appropriate response to the neighbour.
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Re: Problem with rear fence

Postby stufe35 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:09 am

nigelrb wrote:Didn't 'Growly' say that he/she hasn't yet established ownership of the fence?

Either way though, if the panels are restored to a servicable condition, that's all they need do. They simply mark a boundary. As other contributors have said, it is up to the neighbour to restrain their dog, not up to Growly's mum to keep it at bay. This surely seems a 'try on' by the neighbour.



Nigelrb, Your post appears to me to be slightly misleading.....

1. In this scenario, ownership is irrelevant to the question..the OPs mother does not have to do anything whether she owns the fence or not.

2. There is no obligation on any one to restore the panels to a serviceable condition. The owner of the fence may do so if they wish.

Growly, You might want to post a draft of your letter on here before sending it. The good people of this forum will doubtless pass comment on it for you. Sometimes the less said the better. You do not want to have a neighbour dispute that you have to declare (should you come to sell the property) if at all possible.
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Re: Problem with rear fence

Postby jonahinoz » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:40 am

I really am so grateful to everyone for taking the time to reply. I will be going to my mum’s tomorrow, and we will draft an appropriate response to the neighbour.

Hi Growly,

It might be better if you did nothing, leave the ball in your neighbours court. But if you do write to him, don't just deny owning the fence, tell him it is his fence. Whether it is or not, he is the one making the claim, so it's up to him to provide evidence. Maybe he can, maybe he can't. But even if it is your mother's fence, she is under no obligation to have a fence.

I don't know your mother's neighbour. Is it likely that he will come knocking on her door? Can she see who is outside before opening her door? A chain on the door?

Is your mother the owner of her house, or a tenant? If a tenant, refer the matter to her landlord. If the owner, does she have house insurance she can refer it too? Keep any correspondence received, keep diary of any other contact.

Do you know if the neighbour owns or rents his house.

As for the fence ... if it is your mother's, or the neighbour thinks it is, should he return it, offer to return it, or can he just dispose of it? I don't know. But somebody here will know.

As for the dog ... it's owner is responsible for keeping it under control. He is still responsible for his dog, even if somebody deliberately opens a gate, so it can escape. The law now requires all dogs to be microchipped. It might be worth asking .... just in case it isn't.

John W
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Re: Problem with rear fence

Postby stufe35 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:37 am

But if you do write to him, don't just deny owning the fence, tell him it is his fence.


Surely this just starts a dispute where there currently isn't one (the neighbour currently believes the fence is the OPs mothers) ? Why challenge this ? Simply tell the neighbour your mother will not be repairing her fence until such times as she deems fit and is under no obligation to do so. You might remind the neighbour of his/her obligation to keep his dog under control if you feel it appropriate.
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Re: Problem with rear fence

Postby MacadamB53 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:48 am

stufe35 wrote:
But if you do write to him, don't just deny owning the fence, tell him it is his fence.


Surely this just starts a dispute where there currently isn't one (the neighbour currently believes the fence is the OPs mothers) ? Why challenge this ? Simply tell the neighbour your mother will not be repairing her fence until such times as she deems fit and is under no obligation to do so. You might remind the neighbour of his/her obligation to keep his dog under control if you feel it appropriate.
I agree with this suggestion
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Re: Problem with rear fence

Postby arborlad » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:04 pm

Growlybear wrote: The neighbour who put her fence back up last winter told her that he has a copy of his title deeds, and the owner of the house at the back has responsibility for maintaining what is their side fence and the rear fence of the five houses adjoining my mum.




It would be worth verifying the above if you can, in this context ownership and responsibility are generally regarded as one and the same.

Where you have one large property that bounds lots of smaller properties, there is a rule of thumb that the larger property owns the fence, this could be affected by which property was built first, is the age and type of fence similar for the rear of all five properties?




Growlybear wrote:I really am so grateful to everyone for taking the time to reply. I will be going to my mum’s tomorrow, and we will draft an appropriate response to the neighbour.




Although the neighbour has resorted to letter writing, there's no reason why you should respond in the same way, talking to him would be preferable.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people
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Re: Problem with rear fence

Postby Growlybear » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:37 pm

I had to take my Mum for a series of hospital appointments today, and haven’t had internet access since first thing this morning, so have only just seen the responses which have been posted today. Once again, I am so grateful to everyone who has taken the time to reply.

My mum told me this morning that a previous occupant of the other house replaced the boundary fence (their right hand side fence and the rear fence of the other properties), probably about 20 years ago, which I assume further strengthens her position. I had a good look at the fence earlier, and it is perfectly sturdy, but just a bit shabby. I was very interested to read arborlad’s post – when I looked at the fence today, the age and type of fence is identical in the three gardens that I could see easily, which supports my mother’s recollection that the entire fence was renewed at the same time by a previous occupier of the neighbouring house.
I also saw the hole which a fox or some other creature has burrowed underneath the fence panel.

My mum was very anxious to respond to the neighbour, and had clearly been fretting about the situation, so we spent some time drafting a letter before I came away this afternoon, based on the advice given on this thread by last night. Normally I would have tried to speak to the neighbour, but the tone of her letter was really very aggressive and unpleasant, and I didn’t want my mum upset any more. My mum is approaching 90, is disabled, and is becoming increasingly frail, so I wanted to try to discourage the neighbour from going round to speak to her directly, and intimidating her face to face. I have therefore sent the letter in my name, and have suggested that she contacts me if she wants to discuss this further. I have also addressed the issue of the dog and suggested that she might like to take steps to prevent it from entering my mother’s garden, and have also suggested that she should consider claiming from her insurance for some shrubs which she claims the fence squashed when it blew down!!
I wish I had been able to access today’s comments before I sent the letter, because I would have valued comments on my draft response, but hopefully I have covered the important points. Just to answer some of the questions raised in the posts today, my mother owns her house (under a tenancy in common agreement with her late husband’s daughters), and it would appear from the title plan which I downloaded for the neighbour’s property that her house is owned by a family member, possibly her son. We don’t know this neighbour either, so I don’t know whether she is likely to knock on my mum’s door, but she does have a chain, which she uses, and can see people walking past her living room window to get to the door. Hopefully if the neighbour wants to shout at anyone, she will ring me and not harass my mum.
Thank you all again!
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