Threatening Court Action

Threatening Court Action

Postby cadders » Fri Oct 14, 2016 8:32 am

Hi Guys - It's my first post so let me start by saying hello!

I'll keep this as brief as possible, but If I need to elaborate then I will. Are you sitting comfortably? Good, I'll begin...

My wife was out in the front garden a few weeks ago just generally tidying up and enjoying the fresh air. Now, rather naively of her, she thought she'd put some wood preservative on the front fence to the right side of our drive (as you look at it from the road) She presumed (as most people do that this is 'our' fence) so she merrily gave the fence a good lashing of Cuprinol - other wood preservatives are available :D But obviously only painted our side. The neighbours arrived back from there Caravan a week or so later, and this is when things went downhill. We returned home one Friday evening to find a handwritten note through the door saying we had painted the fence without permission, and we need to rectify this ASAP. Therefore, first thing we did was dig out the "House File" with all the documentation from buying this house. As I said, my wife holds her hand up to doing this, as she presumed it would be OK. We looked at the paperwork and this is what it says to the letter -

1.1 Looking towards the property from the road, who owns or accepts responsibility to maintain or repair the boundary features:
On the right? - Seller

1.2 If the boundaries are irregular please indicate ownership by written description or by reference to a plan:

This is handwritten on the document > Front right boundary has a fence. Fence put up by neighbour, so fence not owned by seller

Therefore, in my simple little world, I interpreted this to mean, it's my boundary, the neighbours fence, but we are responsible for maintaining it. Therefore performing some 'preventative maintenance' on the fence and applying a coat of preservative, was not outside my rights. I must stress that this has all kicked off because they don't like the colour.

On the Saturday morning after receiving, the 'handwritten note' the neighbour decided at 9am to knock on our front door and demand we rectify the issue. I advised the neighbour we had plans for the weekend and to leave us alone. At this point, the verbal abuse started, and threats to my partner, our dogs and me were made. I was calm until this point, but then I lost the plot with him, and raised my voice, and the effing and jeffing started. I advised him my wife had painted the fence with good intentions, and anyway it's my boundary and I'm responsible for the maintenance of said fence. I even went into the house and produced the paperwork I quoted above. My wife even offered to repaint the fence (on both sides) to a colour that was acceptable to our neighbour, at which point he said he wouldn't allow us on his property to carry out this task. Then, Mr Angry threatened to sue me for criminal damage. I politely asked him to "Get Orff my land" and do whatever he wants to do; I went back inside and carried on with my Saturday morning - Toasted crumpets and a posh cafetiere coffee - It's the law at the weekend!!! 8)

With me so far? - Then, I'll continue...

I got home Wednesday evening after work to find a little note through the door from the post office saying I needed to collect a 'signed for' letter. Therefore, in my lunch hour yesterday I collected the letter from the post office. It was from Mr Angry.. Oh, joy of joys...

In a nutshell, he's not a happy bunny. In this letter, he says he does not dispute that the boundary in question is my responsibility with regard to maintenance, but the fence is within the boundary of his property and is not my responsibility. He's apparently consulted his legal advisers and my action (well the wife's :lol: ) amounts to Criminal Damage. He has contacted his fencing contractor for a quotation to replace the fence, and finishes the letter with the following -

I hereby serve you notice that unless you address this issue and pay ALL costs associated with rebuilding of said fence to my satisfaction within 14 days of receipt of this letter, I shall be instigating legal proceedings against you in the County Court for all costs and damages.
I look forward to an early reply from you on this matter.

There will be no further written communication from me on this matter.
All further correspondence will be actioned by my solicitor.
Yours Sincerely

Mr Angry!!!

Please, please can someone give me some advice? My wife has been in floods of tears and really can't cope with this added stress. Our daughter suffers from mental health issues and tried to take her life 10 days ago, so this 'fence' issue, isn't helping my wifes nerves in any way.

Look forward to hearing your replies.

Kindest Regards,

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Re: Threatening Court Action

Postby MacadamB53 » Fri Oct 14, 2016 9:41 am

Hi cadders,

although his methods are questionable, your neighbour is right insofar as it's his property that your wife has (innocently) meddled with.

not sure if treating a fence with wood preservative could be deemed criminal damage though - has it also stained it?

the threat of court is not about a criminal damage case - he's going to make a small claims against you for the cost of a new fence.

Kind regards, Mac
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Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:13 am

Re: Threatening Court Action

Postby cadders » Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:07 am

Hi Mac,

Thanks for your reply. The wood preservative my wife used is a different colour as to what Mr Angry's side is painted.
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Re: Threatening Court Action

Postby COGGY » Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:12 am

In your situation I would reply to his letter, very politely, apologising for the error in treating his fence, re-stating the offer made by your wife (tho you maybe should be the one to do it) of retreating the fence in the colour of his choice. Is the fence now a different colour than previously? I would send the letter to be signed for, as he did. If the matter does go to court you have at least provided proof that you acknowledge the error, it was not intentional, and you have attempted to put matters right. Remember to keep a copy of your letter and a copy of the signature when they receive it. Kind regards Coggy
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Re: Threatening Court Action

Postby despair » Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:22 am

fence preservative and fence paint are 2 very different things

if you correctly use Cupronol or Wickes shed and fence preservative which comes in a tall oblong tin it soaks into the wood and if its dark oak or that ghastly red cedar it will leach onto the other side

however if she has used the other stuff in round cans or buckets its fence paint and its easy to repaint the neighbours side and get back to square one

if your wife had been careful in how she painted the fence it should not have dripped through to the other side

So i would start from the basics

yes if its the neighbours fence he has a right to be downright annoyed but if the situation can be remedied by a new coat of a colour of his choice he cannot claim the cost of a replacement fence

thus a sensible letter to the effect that you are only too happy to repaint the fence should be first port of call

the one thing that you should never have done no matter how stressed is to be involved in a slanging match
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Re: Threatening Court Action

Postby cadders » Fri Oct 14, 2016 11:05 am

Thanks for all the replies... Yes the fence is now a different colour, this hasn't leached through to the other side. However, there is a small run on Mr Angry's side from a knot hole. The run is literally a small line (approx 1/8 inch wide) of about 6 inches in length.
I agree, I shouldn't of let the situation turn into a slagging match, but when my partner and animals are threatened I'm going to fight fire with fire so to speak. There's now no way that this can be settled amicably (that I can see) but I will send Mr Angry a letter saying we are prepared to paint/stain the fence, and send it registered.

I really would like clarification on the fact that I'm responsible for the maintenance, as I'm responsible for the boundary. As I said originally, surely If I'm responsible for maintenance of this fence, then I'm within my rights to paint it.
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Re: Threatening Court Action

Postby MacadamB53 » Fri Oct 14, 2016 11:26 am

Hi cadders,

your not responsible for maintaining anything.

your vendor gave you muddled info which you've muddled further.

Kind regards, Mac
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Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:13 am

Re: Threatening Court Action

Postby mr sheen » Fri Oct 14, 2016 11:54 am

Forget the concept of boundary maintenance. This relates to early days of the development. Things have moved on over the years.

The fence is the property of the neighbour and just like you would be unhappy if he painted your car or any other property that you own, he is angry that you painted his property. It's his property and you have no right to touch it.

So now that you are clear that you have made an error, calming things down is the way to go. They may have overreacted but so did you. The onus is now on you to apologise for the error you have made.

Personally, I would try to restore good follows....

I have had time to obtain further information following receipt of your letter

I now realise that we have made a mistake by painting your fence. Please accept my apology. It was a genuine mistake since the deeds seem to indicate that it was our responsibility to maintain the fence. We now understand that the fence is owned by yourselves and we should not have painted it. We have enjoyed good neighbour relations with you previously and we would like to restore good relations by rectifying our error.

We are happy to re paint the fence with a product and colour of your choice and rectify any runs that have inadvertently gone onto your side. We trust that you will accept our apology and our offer to rectify our mistake so that neighbourhood harmony can return.

Once again apologies for the issues our mistake has caused.
mr sheen
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Re: Threatening Court Action

Postby Collaborate » Fri Oct 14, 2016 11:23 pm

Just a further thought - you cannot be responsible for maintaining the boundary - the boundary is a point in space where your land meets your neighbour's. If the fence is his then presumably it sits on his side of the boundary? Try and find out who paid for it. Look at your deeds. Do they say who owns the boundary? Either one of you you will own it, or the deeds will say you share ownership because it was built on the boundary.

Irrespective, he can't sue you for damage without proving he owns the fence, and to do that he needs to show you proof of purchase or evidence that it's his fence from the deeds.
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Re: Threatening Court Action

Postby arborlad » Sat Oct 22, 2016 10:12 am

This thread has similarities to yours: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=19455
arborlad confuses people
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