Neighbour threatening to steal a third of the garden

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Lambzig
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Neighbour threatening to steal a third of the garden

Post by Lambzig » Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:29 pm

I have been an avid guest reader on this site for a while and found it very helpful to know what to avoid when house hunting recently (properties with ROW, public footpaths and shared drives successfully avoided).

I have not seen anything covering my sister's problem, so am hoping to get a little advice for her.

My sister lives in a detached house with a 120 ft garden. She has access to her garden from the front down the side of her house, but also access to the rear of the garden from the private road behind, as do her neighbours. She has lived next to her neighbour for five years in perfect harmony until the last few months.

Her neighbour approached my sister a few months ago wanting to buy the bottom 40 ft of her garden, leaving her with the remainder. He wants to build a massive garage across the bottom of both gardens (bit of a classic car nut) accessed from the road behind. She said no because she specifically bought the house for the large garden, has spent time and money on it, has a lovely summer house at the bottom and just doesn't want to sell.

Her neighbour will not take no for an answer. He is constantly upping his price to a big amount, hassling her and her husband every time she leaves the house and telling her she has no right to hang on to that much garden that in his opinion " she isn't using".

There is no right of way issues and no dispute that the land is hers with no easements for the neighbour. In his correspondence he has offered to buy it (so presumably showing that he acknowledges her ownership).

He has now sent my sister an email saying he is going to wait until she is on holiday, build it anyway and move her fence back. He says he has seen a solicitor and he has been told if its built and he has finished it, my sister will have to take him to court and all the courts will do is make him pay her for the land. His solicitor says a court would find it excessive punishment to make him demolish the garage once it is there.

My sister is meant to be going away for two weeks this month and now wants to cancel. She is completely stressed about it.

Is what he says true, I know it sounds wrong as if not, anyone could just take land all the time, but could that happen?

I also wondered if this was a first move to trying to build houses on the plot.

Also, is there anything my sister can do as a preemptive action?

Any advice much appreciated.

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katee
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Re: Neighbour threatening to steal a third of the garden

Post by katee » Tue Sep 03, 2013 1:03 pm

DO NOT DELETE THAT E MAIL MESSAGE

It is evidence of threatening behavior.
Proper job my bewties................................................. Cheers 'n' gone!

Lambzig
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Re: Neighbour threatening to steal a third of the garden

Post by Lambzig » Tue Sep 03, 2013 1:09 pm

Yes, I wondered if he had been a bit silly to put it in writing. The purpose of the email was to try and push her into selling by saying a court would only give her the basic land value, so she should accept his higher offer now.

She has over twenty aggressively pushy emails from him and I have told her to keep them all, preferably backed up.

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katee
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Re: Neighbour threatening to steal a third of the garden

Post by katee » Tue Sep 03, 2013 1:46 pm

Get some advice from the Land Registry http://www.landregistry.gov.uk/contact-us
Proper job my bewties................................................. Cheers 'n' gone!

arsie
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Re: Neighbour threatening to steal a third of the garden

Post by arsie » Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:04 pm

If you take him seriously you could with the evidence of all the emails go straight out and get an injunction.

As has been said, keep the evidence very safe. Email back to say 'no'. Take pictures of the boundary features etc so you can prove within inches exactly which is your land and so you also have detailed evidence of your garden as it is now.

Go to a solicitor and get him to write a strongly worded letter saying you do not wish to sell any land and if he intends to trespass on or build on your land he will be liable for damages including compensation for stress caused by his harassing. The courts are certain to find against him and he will then have to remove any building, reinstate the garden soil, plantings and other features, as well as any boundary features, back to how it all is now and pay all legal costs on both sides as well as damages. Give him 7 days to say in writing he promises to be good or else you will take legal action (i.e. file an injunction).

If you move smartly this can all be done including the injunction served before your (well, your sister's) planned holiday.

An injunction should shut this madman up.

kipper
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Re: Neighbour threatening to steal a third of the garden

Post by kipper » Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:16 pm

All your sister and her husband have to do is reply formally that they have no intention of selling him any of the land which he acknowledges is within their title and that if he decides to attempt to land grab and build anything on it in their absence they will seek eviction from the land and removal of the building(s) through the courts with an application for damages and costs. Send the letter recorded delivery and keep a copy of the letter & email and any other correspondence.

They could also get an injunction based on the email.

Probably worth getting the advice of a solicitor as the injunction is preferable but costlier in the short-term, although if he ignored the letter and was actually stupid enough to go through with it may be a long stressful period until it is rectified.

I can’t see that a court would allow the outcome he suggests when:
(a) he has not built in the mistaken belief that he owns the land,
(b) you have objected and warned what will happen if he goes ahead.

Hugh Jaleak
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Re: Neighbour threatening to steal a third of the garden

Post by Hugh Jaleak » Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:20 pm

Has the neighbour submitted any sort of planning application for such a building as he proposes? :?

despair
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Re: Neighbour threatening to steal a third of the garden

Post by despair » Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:22 pm

The neighbour is clearly a total bully

Get an injunction fast

Lambzig
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Re: Neighbour threatening to steal a third of the garden

Post by Lambzig » Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:26 pm

Thank you that, Very helpful indeed. I will suggest such a letter is sent. I didn't think you would be able to get an injunction before he had done anything. It might be worth it.

She is seeing a solicitor tomorrow morning we have found who says he has experience in boundary disputes. Good idea to take dated photos of the garden.

Good to know that you think he would be made to remove his garage.

My sister does take him seriously, he is pretty wealthy, has a much bigger house and is very arrogant. His tone seems like a spoiled toddler stamping his foot to get his own way.

There is no planning permission at the moment that we can find on the borough website which is why I wonder if he plans something different.

Hugh Jaleak
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Re: Neighbour threatening to steal a third of the garden

Post by Hugh Jaleak » Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:33 pm

I doubt he would be able to construct anything of that size without planning permission, but money often talks, and once it's up then the council would have to take him to task to get it removed again.... Have come across 'his' sort' in the past, who will do exactly as they like and 'dare' anyone to stop them. Keep us posted with any developments please.

Lambzig
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Re: Neighbour threatening to steal a third of the garden

Post by Lambzig » Tue Sep 03, 2013 3:02 pm

We are going to draft a letter this afternoon along the lines that Kipper suggests, and then send it tomorrow if the solicitor agrees.

I think my sister should also hire a house sitter while she is away, but she really thinks this guy will only listen to a court.

Mojisola
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Re: Neighbour threatening to steal a third of the garden

Post by Mojisola » Tue Sep 03, 2013 4:15 pm

A house sitter could call the police but you might be better to get a family member or a friend who knows all the background.

I wouldn't put it past an arrogant rich person to go ahead and do it.

Even if the courts did eventually make him pull it down, it could be after years of hassle and a lot of money.

arsie
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Re: Neighbour threatening to steal a third of the garden

Post by arsie » Tue Sep 03, 2013 5:04 pm

kipper wrote:All your sister and her husband have to do is reply formally that they have no intention of selling him any of the land which he acknowledges is within their title and that if he decides to attempt to land grab and build anything on it in their absence they will seek eviction from the land and removal of the building(s) through the courts with an application for damages and costs. Send the letter recorded delivery and keep a copy of the letter & email and any other correspondence.

They could also get an injunction based on the email.

Probably worth getting the advice of a solicitor as the injunction is preferable but costlier in the short-term, although if he ignored the letter and was actually stupid enough to go through with it may be a long stressful period until it is rectified.

I can’t see that a court would allow the outcome he suggests when:
(a) he has not built in the mistaken belief that he owns the land,
(b) you have objected and warned what will happen if he goes ahead.
The beauty of an injunction is that it can be worded to prevent him taking illegal actions. If he then goes ahead, he is directly in dispute with the courts and they have executive powers. It will cost £150, I believe. Not many solicitors charge as little as that for even an hour's work so I don't see 'costlier in the short term'. Without an injunction once he has built it will take years to get his buildings torn down and he will use every legal trick every inch of the way - and he has money to burn. Give me £250,000 and I could build a fortress in two weeks no problem if I know in advance when I can start. Will your house sitter be able to do anything except watch helplessly faced with a squad of tough builders and heavy bulldozers :shock:

Injunct him. That is what the rich do and it is very good value in my opinion.

arsie
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Re: Neighbour threatening to steal a third of the garden

Post by arsie » Tue Sep 03, 2013 5:14 pm

Lambzig wrote:Thank you that, Very helpful indeed. I will suggest such a letter is sent. I didn't think you would be able to get an injunction before he had done anything. It might be worth it.

She is seeing a solicitor tomorrow morning we have found who says he has experience in boundary disputes. Good idea to take dated photos of the garden.

Good to know that you think he would be made to remove his garage.

My sister does take him seriously, he is pretty wealthy, has a much bigger house and is very arrogant. His tone seems like a spoiled toddler stamping his foot to get his own way.

There is no planning permission at the moment that we can find on the borough website which is why I wonder if he plans something different.
This guy is a serious nut and sounds lawless. I would take him very seriously.

1. An injunction is well worth it and if ignored puts him in dispute with the courts.
2. I don't see why you need a solicitor versed in boundary disputes - there isn't one, you say?
3. He could be made to remove his garage - but it could take a long time to go through all the appeals ...
4. You can get planning permission retrospectively. He is rich, he could pay some tech nerd to invent 'emails' ...

Lambzig
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Re: Neighbour threatening to steal a third of the garden

Post by Lambzig » Tue Sep 03, 2013 6:25 pm

Gosh that's scary. So if someone is rich and arrogant enough, and can do something behind your back, the neighbour is right, he could get away with it.

I think you are right, she should get an injunction.

Thank you everyone for the advice.

I am very scared on her behalf. This was something of a dream home for her and her family and I don't think she will want to stay there now. I hope an injunction can be got.

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