What have I done!!

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Gloommonger
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What have I done!!

Post by Gloommonger » Tue Jan 07, 2020 9:32 pm

Hi everyone, first post and thanks in advance for any advice. We have recently purchased a semi detached house with a garden backing on to some woods. During the purchase we noticed the adjoining neighbour, whose boundary does not have access to the woods, had replanted the dividing hedge and erected a gate to the woods. He had also put down flagstone paving. The previous straight hedge is diverted 20 degrees through the corner of our garden, taking a 6 metre by 1 metre strip of our land.
We raised this with our solicitor and the estate agent selling the house. It was a probate sale and the neighbour told both the estate agent and the son of the deceased owner that he had asked permission of the deceased owner and she said it was fine as they never used that part of the garden. The neighbour said he was happy to put it back if we wanted.
It is very clear on the land registry red boundary plan that he has taken the land. Our solicitor said there is no way he can claim it. Probably naively, we agreed he could keep access to the gate, mainly because I didn't want bad feelings between us and because there wasn't a gate before and he had paid to install it.
Once we moved in, he was very friendly and we discussed him removing some of the very spindly hedge plants so we could have access to the gate. 4 weeks passed and he still hadn't removed them, so I went ahead and dug them up. We also replaced his padlock with a combination one, although he seemed a bit reluctant. He hasn't yet said anything about the hedge, but I'm worried I'm setting myself up for some sort of adverse possession claim in the future. They purchased their house in 2012 and put the hedge and gate in about 2 years ago.
What should I do? I don't mind sharing access to the woods but legally am I going to be screwed over in the future for my generosity?

cleo5
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Re: What have I done!!

Post by cleo5 » Tue Jan 07, 2020 10:02 pm

Since he had permission from the former owner of your house then there is no way he can claim the strip of land by adverse posession.
All you need do is tell him, in writing, you now withdraw that permission and ask him to reinstate the original boundary and remove the gate. Or do it yourself.

Then if you want to be neighbourly you can install a gate into the woods from your land and a small gate from his land to yours, where appropriate, thereby allowing him access to the woods.

Are the woods privately owned and if so do you have right of access?

It will not be a right of way but simply permission from you for him to enter the woods via your garden and you can withdraw that permission at any time.
These small things have a way causing problems in future sales so best get it sorted now..

Gloommonger
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Re: What have I done!!

Post by Gloommonger » Tue Jan 07, 2020 10:41 pm

Thanks Cleo5. He only claims he got permission. The son wasn't aware, which I thought was odd, but the gate is hidden from the house. Once we had moved in, I did think it odd that he would bother planting the hedge, why not just cut a hole in the existing one. I think he was hoping the new owner wouldn't notice.
The woods are public, and all the houses with a boundary have gate access. It obviously adds value to the house.
We intend to get a dog soon, so will have to secure our garden which means putting the boundary back. What happens if he contests it? Does he have to prove the land is his?

MacadamB53
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Re: What have I done!!

Post by MacadamB53 » Wed Jan 08, 2020 12:16 am

Hi Gloommonger,

What happens if he contests it?

contest what?

as has already been explained, having permission from your predecessor completely negates any claim of ownership, and that permission did not transfer to you as part of the sale.

so you just have to make your position clear - whether you grant similar permission or not.

kind regards, Mac

Collaborate
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Re: What have I done!!

Post by Collaborate » Wed Jan 08, 2020 7:47 am

Make sure that there is a verifiable record of his claim to have had permission, and that the permission you give now (or don't give, as the case may be) is properly recorded so that you can produce it before a Land Tribunal or court in the future if need be.

Securing the necessary evidence of a clear cut case is the best way to avoid it ever coming before a court.

Gloommonger
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Re: What have I done!!

Post by Gloommonger » Wed Jan 08, 2020 9:21 am

MacadamB53 wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 12:16 am
Hi Gloommonger,

What happens if he contests it?

contest what?

as has already been explained, having permission from your predecessor completely negates any claim of ownership, and that permission did not transfer to you as part of the sale.

so you just have to make your position clear - whether you grant similar permission or not.

kind regards, Mac
I meant if he contests the boundary. I have read that the Land Registry red boundary lines are not set in stone, although in my case it is clear his boundary does not have woods access and the hedge is no longer a straight line. What steps do I take to put the boundary back if he doesn't agree? Will a letter from a solicitor suffice or do I need an adjudicator? All hypothetical questions, just want to be clear in my mind what steps to take.

Gloommonger
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Joined: Sun Jan 05, 2020 8:09 pm

Re: What have I done!!

Post by Gloommonger » Wed Jan 08, 2020 9:22 am

Collaborate wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 7:47 am
Make sure that there is a verifiable record of his claim to have had permission, and that the permission you give now (or don't give, as the case may be) is properly recorded so that you can produce it before a Land Tribunal or court in the future if need be.

Securing the necessary evidence of a clear cut case is the best way to avoid it ever coming before a court.
Thanks Collaborate, good advice.

cleo5
Posts: 366
Joined: Mon May 18, 2015 12:33 pm

Re: What have I done!!

Post by cleo5 » Wed Jan 08, 2020 2:56 pm

You have no need to worry about anything.

He cannot keep that strip of land since he has not held it for long enough ( 10/12 years , without permission, to the exclusion of rightful owner, before he can apply for adverse posession. ) Since he has said he had permission then no chance of him getting AP anyway.

If there is no LR record of him actually purchasing this land from the owner then you can simply erect your own fence according to your conveyance plan.

Just go ahead and fence it now.. If yyou are unsure of he exact position of original boundary then get a surveyor in to check it....but it may cost you several hundred pounds and hardly worth it when you can download LR plot plans for both houses for a few pounds.
If neighbour wanted access to woods he should have bought your house when it came up for sale.

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