Neighbour attaching things to my new fence

Neighbour attaching things to my new fence

Postby Dandelion » Sun May 10, 2015 7:39 pm

Hello again. I had lots of help from the Gardenlaw community, when I moved house three years ago, in getting next-door neighbours to clear a shared-access passageway that they had been using for storage.
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=18103&p=157167&hilit=dandelion#p157167

I'm now hoping you can help again. I've looked through existing Gardenlaw threads but can't find exactly the same issue.

Our neighbours have always been hostile and tried to stop us getting planning permission for an extension, to be built up to the boundary line as the space available was very narrow. We did get permission, built the extension and renewed the old fence continuing the border. We made sure that the builders took great care of all plants along the border and retained the trellis.

The neighbours tied unsightly blue ropes around the fence posts to hang plants on; we asked them to remove the ropes but they ignored us. They claimed the builders had damaged their plants (they hadn't) and demanded compensation via the party-wall surveyors, but we refused to give them any money. They are now drilling something into the fence to support a heavy growth of plants on their side.

The new fence exactly follows the line of the old one, right on the border. Do the neighbours have a right to fix things to it? Also, do they have a right to fix things to the wall of our house inside the side passage between the houses? That passage belongs to them but we have the right of access at all times.

I know this sounds like a petty issue, but it's the latest in an endless saga of low-level harassment by these neighbours. They caused us as much extra expense and delay as they could during the building of our extension, and I don't want to give them anything!

Many thanks for any help you can give.
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Re: Neighbour attaching things to my new fence

Postby mr sheen » Sun May 10, 2015 7:56 pm

There are disputes that warrant legal action ie those where people have suffered losses....and those that don't.
In order to work out if legal action is warranted look at the financial losses you have suffered and calculate the cost of experts and legal advice in order to work out if it is worth pursuing. A few drilled holes in poles is a minor infringement that does not warrant action.

When people are in long on-going dispute with neighbours as in your case, lots of aggravating bits go on and both sides can continue getting more and more aggravated and then retaliating with more niggling aggravation or the bigger person can drop things and let the matter go.....and get on with their life....or you can keep on with this low level aggravation and 'refusal to give anything' but with nothing really that you can do about it.
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Re: Neighbour attaching things to my new fence

Postby Dandelion » Sun May 10, 2015 8:20 pm

Thanks for replying, Mr Sheen. We've had endless trouble with these neighbours, who constantly try to intrude on our space (which is smaller than theirs). Whenever we've given an inch, they've tried to take a mile. Other neighbours have had similar trouble with them, and given in, and ended up with worse problems. So I know that if they get away with this, more will endlessly follow.
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Re: Neighbour attaching things to my new fence

Postby mr sheen » Sun May 10, 2015 8:42 pm

I take it from that reply that you intend to 'prevent them getting away with it' ......so how do you intend to do that?
As I see it you can either
Fill the holes and remove the attachments....and they will do it again and more....and again...ad infinitum!
Send a letter or get a solicitor to send a letter....achieving nothing as they reply...'what ya gonna do about it?'
Contact the Police ....who will probably see this as 2 neighbours at war over all sorts of issues inc extension etc and both classified as 'problem neighbours'

So...good luck with that
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Re: Neighbour attaching things to my new fence

Postby MacadamB53 » Sun May 10, 2015 9:31 pm

Hi Dandelion,

low-level harassment

harassment is a criminal offence - are you alleging they've committed a criminal offence?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Neighbour attaching things to my new fence

Postby Collaborate » Mon May 11, 2015 12:00 am

If the fence straddles the boundary then it is jointly owned. It matters not that you paid for it. It replaced a structure that was jointly owned. If you wanted to retain ownership if it you need to have built it entirely on your side. If their ropes are trespassing on your side, you can remove them. If you are unable to remove them, you can ask them to remove them and if they won't you can tell them that you will cut them off yourself.

If they attach something to your wall that too is a trespass. You can try and take action to prevent it. However I agree with what previous posters have said. It really does sound like a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
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Re: Neighbour attaching things to my new fence

Postby Eliza » Tue May 12, 2015 8:32 pm

Collaborate wrote:If the fence straddles the boundary then it is jointly owned. It matters not that you paid for it. It replaced a structure that was jointly owned. If you wanted to retain ownership if it you need to have built it entirely on your side.


I don't recall reading OP as stating that they had replaced a previous jointly-owned structure where that fence now is - must go back and re-read to see if that is what they said.

As for needing to have something built "entirely on your side" - then that could be rather problematic for OP to establish which inch (or two) is on "his side" and which inch (or two) is on this neighbours side - in view of the General Boundary Rule.

It has been my reading of the legal position that "boundaries" (ie that invisible line that marks the demarcation between two properties) are jointly-owned (by definition), but the structure sitting on the boundary (be it a fence or a wall) is owned by the person who paid for it.

I follow this sort of thing with some degree of interest because my particular nfh has (amongst other things) kept trying to tell me (one way or another) that my side wall (ie in between the two of us) is jointly-owned - even though its my side wall and was put there by a previous owner of my house. In her case - she keeps trying it on to try and make me convinced "black is white", although my wall is totally on my plot.

I shall follow this with interest, as I wouldn't put it past my own nfh to try making amendments to my wall and am mentally geared-up to removing them if she tries it.
Apologies for not giving exact personal details in my posts - you never know who is reading....
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Re: Neighbour attaching things to my new fence

Postby MacadamB53 » Tue May 12, 2015 9:37 pm

Hi Eliza,

It has been my reading of the legal position that... ...the structure sitting on the boundary (be it a fence or a wall) is owned by the person who paid for it.

where have you read this?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Neighbour attaching things to my new fence

Postby Dandelion » Wed May 13, 2015 1:00 pm

Hi Eliza, my party wall surveyor has replied saying "Officially as it is your fence they cannot fix or hang anything on it
without your permission. It is in effect criminal damage."

Collaborate - is he wrong about this?

We did replace the fence. The things the neighbours had hanging from it or growing over it seemed to be pulling it down in places. But it was quite old and wobbly anyway. The vendor told us she'd replaced it along the line of a wire fence. We kept and reused the existing concrete fence-post supports so it's in exactly the same place as before.

But does that make it a jointly owned fence? I didn't think so, and the party wall surveyor doesn't seem to either.

Best of luck with your neighbour-from-hell, Eliza! Ours too is always trying to encroach and has also attached things to our side wall but before we moved here so I doubt if we cold do anything about it.
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Re: Neighbour attaching things to my new fence

Postby MacadamB53 » Wed May 13, 2015 1:46 pm

Hi Dandelion,

It is in effect criminal damage

that would very much depend on the affect their actions had on the property.

section 1(1) of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 provides a definition of what constitutes criminal damage - it contains five criteria (which I've coloured) all of which must be satisfied:

"A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be found guilty of an offence."

whether damage or destruction has occurred is an issue of fact but it must be more than 'de minimis' (ie not utterly trivial).
this is where your surveyor MIGHT be speaking out of turn because it has been successfully argued that the term "damage" should be interpreted to mean "not only physical harm, but also an impairment of value or usefulness".
would attaching a hanging basket to your fence render it less useful or reduce it's value by more than a trivial amount?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Neighbour attaching things to my new fence

Postby Collaborate » Wed May 13, 2015 1:57 pm

The new fence exactly follows the line of the old one, right on the border.


I'm not sure what you mean by this. The boundary is a concept rather than a physical thing. It is where your land meets his. You built your brick wall up to the boundary line. It is therefore wholly on your land. Can the same be said for the fence? Your PW surveyor must think so if they tell you the fence is yours. If that's the case they shouldn't hang anything on it or drill in to it. If it straddles the boundary then some (let's say half) will be built on next doors land. They can then attach things to their side.

This is the CPS guidance on criminal damage:

Damage is not defined by the Act. The courts have construed the term liberally. Damage is not limited to permanent damage, so smearing mud on the walls of a police cell may be criminal damage. What constitutes damage is a matter of fact and degree and it is for the court, using its common sense, to decide whether what occurred is damage (Archbold 23-6).

The damage need not be visible or tangible if it affects the value or performance of the property.


Here is a newspaper report suggesting ways in which the police have taken action in trivial cases:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/ ... ences.html
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Re: Neighbour attaching things to my new fence

Postby arborlad » Wed May 13, 2015 2:56 pm

Best read in conjunction with this thread:
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=19559&p=179384#p179384


.........disregard anything from NTDWM!
arborlad

smile...it confuses people
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Re: Neighbour attaching things to my new fence

Postby MacadamB53 » Wed May 13, 2015 3:24 pm

Hi Collaborate,

ways in which the police have taken action in trivial cases

mentions less than a handful of individual arrests made over a ten year period across England (doesn't say whether any were made with a warrant, but I very much doubt it) to justify the article about how stretched the police wanted the reader to think they were at that time - no mention of any prosecutions, successful or otherwise.

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Neighbour attaching things to my new fence

Postby weedol » Fri May 15, 2015 5:41 pm

Dear Dandelion

I have encountered similar disputes in the past.

What items have the neighbours fixed to the fence?. Is it to rehang/support existing or new plants?. Was The fence damaged in the process of fixing? Legally it would be a very difficult unless damage has been caused. It sounds to me as if it is a shared fence built on the boundary, a judge would simply look at what's reasonable regardless of who paid for it, you must have paid for it because you wanted it replacing, or was it blown over ?.

Regards
Weedol
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Re: Neighbour attaching things to my new fence

Postby Jackelhunter » Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:36 am

MacadamB53 wrote:Hi Dandelion,

low-level harassment

harassment is a criminal offence - are you alleging they've committed a criminal offence?

Kind regards, Mac

No they dont take it that far as of yet
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