Supposed previous owner dispute over fence

unsure
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Supposed previous owner dispute over fence

Post by unsure » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:40 am

We moved into our house around July 2017. No issues had been disclosed by the previous owners.

Out of the blue in November 2017 we receive a letter from solicitors of our neighbours claiming that a section of the fence between their house and our house is encroaching onto their land and this is an ongoing dispute from the previous owners. We wrote back asking for more evidence of: the extent of the encroachment with measured deeds, evidence it was our fence, evidence that the fence was erected by the previous owners and evidence that it is an ongoing dispute and from when.

All went quiet then our neighbour came round and said he had an “ongoing court case” and that the previous owners had put in fence and when they did this the builders climbed over his side gate and damaged it. We asked the extent of the encroachment because we couldn’t see any he said “it is the principle”. We asked if this was an issue with the previous owner why he was punishing us. He was again adamant it was the principle and we should take it up with the previous owners.

The solicitor wrote back again after this with none of the information requested just saying they planned to commission a survey and if there was found to be encroachment we would be expected to pay for it.

We again wrote back asking for more information but they said it was not for them to provide this. We have approached the neighbour again asking whether this was necessary but he was adamant.

To describe the fence. It is a long fence around 19 panels. The part in dispute is 5 panels close to the house which has concrete posts, gravel board and wooden panels. The lower 14 panels are 100% wooden with wooden posts, in very poor condition. Both fences are directly in line and it does not seem the concrete posts are any wider than the wooden ones. From the photos their solicitor sent through and discussion with the neighbour they seem to agree that the wooden panels are on the boundary and the part they have issue with is the 2cm of concrete post which is on their side holding the panel in place.

We have the title documents for both houses which do not indicate it is either persons’ boundary but seems to say both houses are responsible for all their boundaries.

We do not have legal insurance. We have paid for an initial consultation with a lawyer who agreed this appeared excessive for the issue and just quoted us thousands for them to be involved.

We feel quite bullied about this. They have provided no information and we do not feel the fence is out of line. The fence in question sits between our two patios so it would be excessive to move it the 2cm they want, it would then not be aligned with the lower fence.

I guess my main questions are:
1) can they make us pay for a survey?
2) do they need to show it is an ongoing dispute?
3) do they need to show it is “our fence”?

MacadamB53
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Re: Supposed previous owner dispute over fence

Post by MacadamB53 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:55 am

Hi unsure,

no, no and yes.

have you been in contact with your predecessor about this?

kind regards, Mac

unsure
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Re: Supposed previous owner dispute over fence

Post by unsure » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:52 pm

Hi Mac,

Thanks for the reply.

No we haven’t,we didn’t know whether that was a good plan or not, I don’t want to make things worse by making some sort of legal blunder

Could I make things worse by contacting them or am I being overly cautious?

alyson
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Re: Supposed previous owner dispute over fence

Post by alyson » Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:38 pm

22m? De minimus surely?

arborlad
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Re: Supposed previous owner dispute over fence

Post by arborlad » Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:44 pm

unsure wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:40 am
. He was again adamant it was the principle and we should take it up with the previous owners.



The neighbour has got it all backwards - if he truly believed there was a significant error with the fence then he should have taken it up with your vendor at the time of erection, or at the very latest, at the time of sale, when he had some leverage.

2cm - 3/4"..............not a court in the land would take this seriously although I'm unsurprised to learn that a solicitor has.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people

unsure
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Re: Supposed previous owner dispute over fence

Post by unsure » Wed Mar 13, 2019 8:07 pm

Thank you all for responding. We also agree that it seems so excessive for what seems to be so little and the lawyer we spoke to mentioned “de minimis” but it seems that the sollicitor they have got involved must not have thought so.

I am glad to hear they can’t force us to pay for a survey, it seemed very bullying how they wrote it in the letter.

I would welcome thoughts on how to resolve the issue. We have tried to be reasonable and say that although we did not erect the fence and have no knowledge it is our fence seeing as it is causing such an issue for the neighbours we would either be willing to explore whether we could have the part of the fence post on their side ground down to be flush with the wood or we would be willing to have the lower fence which is in a bad way replaced at our expense but would leave the disputed fence where it is. We haven’t heard back and when we approached the neighbour in person he said he’d need to talk to his lawyer.

I’m not usually an anxious person but I feel quite persecuted for something we didn’t even do. I would like to resolve it so, although we have no plans to move, when we do we can sign that there are no boundary issues.

Can I put a time expectation on a letter to a lawye, he always threatens if we don’t reply within 28 days such and such will happen but can this work in both ways?

cleo5
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Re: Supposed previous owner dispute over fence

Post by cleo5 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:47 pm

Try not to worry.
The whole issue is not worth it. It is just a fence.......
Health is of greater importance and stress kills.

Have you consulted the solicitor who dealt with your purchase of the property?
Ask him whether any dispute was declared by the vendors on the questionaire prior to the drawing up of the contract.

It is not your problem..
Ignore it.

Do not agree to paying for a survey.....that will cost you upwards of £600. And prove nothing.
If the neighbour wishes to remove anything supposedly encroaching his border then let him but at hisown expense.
If anything is in the wrong place hehas toprove it.....


Do not waste money on legal fees over something that is unproven and not of your making.
You are under no obligation to maintain a fence unless you have animals or children to keep safe.


New neighbours moved into a house next to my daughter.
Immediately the new owner told her that six panels of her fence were encroaching several feet onto his land in one place,( the fence had been there for years before my daughter bought it). He had no proof .
My daughter had her fence moved.

She said that she didn't want the stress. Peace all round.











J

liveinpeace
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Re: Supposed previous owner dispute over fence

Post by liveinpeace » Thu Mar 14, 2019 8:08 am

I couldnt agree more with the previous post.

take it from people who have been there and paid for solicitors designer t shirts!

do not stress about it and do not give your neighbours the satisfaction of you getting angry and falling out with them. Keep yourself dignified but firm with them.

what ever you do do not get a solicitor and throw loads of your hard earned money at something so pointless and petty.
do not agree to go halves on a survey, let them get one if they want one that much.
just keep responding to the solicitors letters with questions, dont drop yourself in it in any way by saying that maybe the boundary is wrong.
Solicitors letters make people like me and you think you must respond and scares the heck out of you. but there are very different types of solicitors out there, some will write anything, for cases they will never win. the neighbours solicitor did this in my case and i have since found out it was his last case before retiring and sodding off to the south of France,so what did he care.
so stay calm ignore them and let them keep paying for solicitors letters that get them nowhere.

make sure there are things that prevent them from moving the fence over on to your side, people are notorious for doing crazy thing, especially if you take a little holiday.

Morph
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Re: Supposed previous owner dispute over fence

Post by Morph » Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:50 am

I had a similar experience and my feedback would be:
- a solicitor will pretty much write anything they want to represent their client and to put doubt into the other side, and to baffle you with legalised jargon; so don't panic over solicitors letters. A civil process needs following before any court action and rarely will such cases go to court;
- no action will be taken over less than an inch;
- it is your neighbours claim so they need to provide the evidence for you to respond, if you so wish; don't pay for a survey/arbitration etc; you have asked for info and they need to provide it to allow you to respond;
- on your point on whether to respond within 28 days etc - civil procedure expects in good faith parties to try and resolve but you don't need to follow the deadlines, but you could respond you need more time (provide a reason) or that you are awaiting info; you can set your own timelines for a response ie 28 days if reasonable; you could write and say you have requested proof of encroachment and acted reasonably and if you don't hear back within 28 days you will consider the matter closed;
- I would hope for the best that this goes away but plan for worst - do you have pics when you moved in of the fence in its current position; may be ask previous owners of any issues or if they have pics/info; if you did not know on buying then under equity you have a strong position;
- on how to handle it - we tried to show them our counter-evidence and this only stoked the fire - they just wanted to win, so understand this may happen anyway. Just remain civil and reasonable and don't panic or feel low.

kind regards

arborlad
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Re: Supposed previous owner dispute over fence

Post by arborlad » Thu Mar 14, 2019 11:34 am

unsure wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 8:07 pm
Thank you all for responding. We also agree that it seems so excessive for what seems to be so little and the lawyer we spoke to mentioned “de minimis” but it seems that the sollicitor they have got involved must not have thought so.


On a recent thread, the solicitor was demanding the removal of drains that had been in situ for over 100 years, this will give you an indication of how much credence to give to charlatans like that.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people

despair
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Re: Supposed previous owner dispute over fence

Post by despair » Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:15 pm

Time the beighbour was grateful for concrete posts that wont be rotting at the base or swaying in the wind

arborlad
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Re: Supposed previous owner dispute over fence

Post by arborlad » Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:26 pm

despair wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:15 pm
Time the beighbour was grateful for concrete posts that wont be rotting at the base or swaying in the wind


The longevity of the post has no relevance to its location, or ownership...........
arborlad

smile...it confuses people

arborlad
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Re: Supposed previous owner dispute over fence

Post by arborlad » Thu Mar 14, 2019 1:20 pm

unsure wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:52 pm
Hi Mac,

Thanks for the reply.

No we haven’t,we didn’t know whether that was a good plan or not, I don’t want to make things worse by making some sort of legal blunder

Could I make things worse by contacting them or am I being overly cautious?


I can see no reason not to contact your vendor, do you know when the fence was erected?
arborlad

smile...it confuses people

mr sheen
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Re: Supposed previous owner dispute over fence

Post by mr sheen » Thu Mar 14, 2019 4:29 pm

Don't waste money on this.
Me...I'd keep responding to solicitors letters - it's at their cost
I would reiterate the reasonable request already made for the information already requested.

My letter would be.....
Having already requested information about the assertions made by your client, I am disappointed that none of the information I requested has been forthcoming.

I absolutely refute any suggestion that there are any disputes regarding my property.

If your client wishes to carry out surveys of his property that is his choice and must be entirely at his cost.
Please provide the following information within 28days otherwise I will consider the matter closed:
All Correspondence between all parties relating to your clients assertions made about the fence and indeed all and any dispute relating to your client's property and/or my property
All evidence that your client intends to rely upon to support his assertions in court.

Collaborate
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Re: Supposed previous owner dispute over fence

Post by Collaborate » Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:13 pm

I'd point out that the letter they have sent you is not compliant with the Pre Action Protocol https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/proce ... on_conduct

In all likelihood they're simply trying it on. The alternative is the solicitor hasn't got a clue what they're supposed to be doing.

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