Fence issue with new neighbour

aliceinw
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Fence issue with new neighbour

Post by aliceinw » Sun Aug 05, 2018 10:59 am

Hi

I am writing on behalf on my mum who is currently having problems with her new neighbours regarding the fence between the two houses.

I know on the fixtures listing as we previously owned the house next door that it was stated that she was responsible for the fence between the two houses, something she has done for over 30 years. The neighbours are wanting to put up a higher fence so we are wondering if they can remove the fence that she has put up – we have no objections to the new fence but don’t want them to remove the original fence as there is nothing wrong with it. We also think if they remove it they may ask for a contribution, our view is that it is their decision to want a higher fence so they should pay for it and place it the other side of the original fence.

The second question is mum has a dog and she is wanting to put up a small bit of willow (about a foot) on top of one of the panels that is by the side of her decking where she has a bench. She is a bit concerned that the dog may possible jump over - he's recently discovered he can jump! She has already put a couple of things to raise the height and they have objected, the last time they untied what she had put up and threw it back it her garden. My question is if she puts this willow there her side then surely there is nothing they can do about it? If they do interfere with it what would be our course of action? This is only a short term measure till they decide about having a newer fence. My mum has tried talking to the neighbour but he seems not to want to compromise and his way is the only way – she is in her 70’s now and this has upset her as all she wants to do live quietly with her dog.

Any advice on how we deal with this going forward would be much appreciated.

Thanks

IdefixUK
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Re: Fence issue with new neighbour

Post by IdefixUK » Sun Aug 05, 2018 12:12 pm

Hello Alice.
Before going any further with this are you100% sure that your Mum owns the fence. On the plans of the deeds of the house the fence may be marked with a T going in towards your garden and a note will be made in writing in the deeds to confirm this . If there is no T then the wording in the deeds may be sufficient to establish ownership. If there is a T on each side of the fence on the plan then it is a shared boundary fence. If it is still not clear from the deeds then your own knowledge of ownership will take effect. Another factor from which ownership can be assumed is the ages of the respective houses. If your mum's is the oldest or the first to be sold by the builder then the fence is hers given no evidence to the contrary.

You can down load the deeds for both houses from the official Land Registry site for £3 each. Assuming that the houses are registered.

When you are finally sure that your Mum owns the fence then it is for her to decide to make it higher with some willow trellis. It is nothing to do with the neighbour whatsoever. The neighbour cannot lawfully paint the fence, lean things against it or grow things up it. It belongs to your Mum. It sounds from what you say that the neighbour thinks that they either own the whole fence or that the fence is in joint ownership. If you can show them evidence that it is your Mum's fence then their attitude might change for the better.
In fact the only thing they can complain about might be the maximum height if this exceeds 2 metres (lower limits in front gardens abutting a road may apply). It doesn't sound like you're that high yet unless your Mum's dog is training for the Olympic high jump.

The neighbour is at liberty to fence their own land but they must place their fence entirely on their own land, and it should not attach to your Mum's fence or posts. There is no way they can demand a contribution towards the cost of their new fence.If they do erect their own fence your Mum could remove her own fence if she were happy with that and enjoy a slightly bigger garden. There is normally no obligation for your any land owner to fence their property.

I hope that this
a) is correct.
b) helps you understand the position.
c) will let your mum and her dog live in peace.
Kind regards .

span
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Re: Fence issue with new neighbour

Post by span » Sun Aug 05, 2018 2:37 pm

just an idle passing thought - this new neighbour may be showing his colours now about the fence. it might be something else later on.....

Make sure your mum has good legal expenses insurance cover now, before anything kicks off. If she hasn't, there a policies she can buy inexpensively which will afford her and you a lot of peace of mind, just in case.

aliceinw
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Re: Fence issue with new neighbour

Post by aliceinw » Sun Aug 05, 2018 4:59 pm

Thanks for your responses.

I have a copy of the deeds from when next door was sold earlier this year and there is no T on them. The houses are terraced and were built at the same time in the late 60's - when mum moved there in 1985 there was a small wall (knee height) which I believe was from when the houses were originally built. As we got a dog, mum put a small wire fence to stop the dog from jumping over, this she put up her side of the wall so on her land. I will dig out photos to see if this is similar to where the fence is now. The wall was knocked down 20 years ago (not sure what happened to mum's original wire fence) and a new fence put up I believe by a neighbour. A couple of years later mum bought the house next door and that has been rental for the 18 years and the fence maintained by her - a new one was put up roughly 10 years ago. It's quite a good one in that its wide with the a fence at opposite sides of the post - so I think the bit that mum wants to put to put the willow on is her side of the boundary and if they wanted to put something their side it would be on their land - the fence is about 4ft at this point.

I think the neighbour would think twice about being like he is if she wasn't on her own - hopefully it won't go legal but will check her policy.

IdefixUK
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Re: Fence issue with new neighbour

Post by IdefixUK » Sun Aug 05, 2018 6:58 pm

Am I correct in assuming that your Mum owned both of the adjacent houses and recently has sold one to the person you are now having troubles with?
Of course, if this is the case then the ownership of the fence would have been with your mother whilst she owner both properties, but in reality, unless it is a shared (or Mesne) fence then the legal ownership would have been with one or other of the two properties she then owned. Since she owned them both she must have owned the fence.....simples.
Now we get to the bit where she sells off one property to the new neighbour. What did she write in the sellers information questionnaire in relation to the fence? did she make it clear that it was her fence? The sale is recent, perhaps the conveyancing solicitor your Mum used has a copy to confirm this.
Now I'm guessing, but even if the fence ownership was originally with the house your Mum has now sold, if she clearly indicated that she was the owner and solely responsible for maintenance etc. at the time she sold it then it remains her property. (Assuming nothing to the contrary in the words of the deeds). The buyer and his solicitor could have raised this as an issue before buying if they had wanted to challenge or question ownership. They might argue that in a similar terrace all the houses own the fence on the right side, but that's all nonsense.
Quick call to your conveyancer to be sure is needed.
Regards

Just to add a bit. Contrary to common opinion the side of the posts relative to the panels is irrelevant to inferring ownership.

aliceinw
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Re: Fence issue with new neighbour

Post by aliceinw » Sun Aug 05, 2018 11:39 pm

Yes Mum owned the property next door who we are now having issues with and I have a copy of the conveyancing document as I filled it in.

I did get a bit confused with the left/right scenario so wrote clearly on the document that mum was responsible for the fence in question and the fence the other side of the property was shared as she had done in the past. Looking at it now I did make a mistake with ticking the boxes but nothing was brought up in the solicitors questions as it does contradict what I said - I thought by explaining clearly in writing would show better who was responsible rather than relying on boxes which were a bit confusing in my mind. It is a right side fence from mum's perspective and a left side from their side.

IdefixUK
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Re: Fence issue with new neighbour

Post by IdefixUK » Mon Aug 06, 2018 6:39 am

So there was ambiguity in your response. The question now might be about whether or not the buyer can 'rely' on the tick, or the written part. I don't know the answer to this. I suggest you call the solicitor who sold the house for you for their opinion. Hopefully other posters will contribute their thoughts on this as well.
Can you post here what you wrote...the exact wording?
Regards

MacadamB53
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Re: Fence issue with new neighbour

Post by MacadamB53 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 1:43 pm

Hi aliceinw,

the most obvious solution would be for your mum to share with the neighbour what you’ve shared with us - 1. that she isn’t expecting them to remove her fence as part of the works when they erect a new fence of their own on their land as she is not in a position to help finance this, but if they want to remove it at their own cost she doesn’t mind; 2. she won’t be attaching things to their fence, or painting it etc., without their consent because the fence will be their property and she has been advised that interfering with someone else’s property is unlawful.

then erect a suitable barrier on her own land to stop her dog escaping.

kind regards, Mac

IdefixUK
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Re: Fence issue with new neighbour

Post by IdefixUK » Mon Aug 06, 2018 2:00 pm

In the vast majority of cases a single property is sold where the seller has no interest in the next door property.eg.The information questionnaire might ask who is/has been responsible for/owns the fence on the right when facing the property...answer we are/were. So the buyer is entitled to think that he will have the same situation bestowed upon him.

In your situation you perhaps answered entirely truthfully in that you owned and maintained the fence...but should have actually said that the neighbour ( your mum) was the owner and had repaired the fence.
Is this the case?

twinkle***
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Re: Fence issue with new neighbour

Post by twinkle*** » Mon Aug 06, 2018 5:56 pm

Hello Aliceinw

Sorry to hear your mum is having problems with her fencing. Not what she needs at her young age.
It seems that her neighbour is trying to solve your mum's problems by putting up a higher fence. Thus keeping your mum's dog happily at his home. Perhaps YOU could approach this neighbour with cup of tea in one hand, and your property questionnaire in the other. Let them put up their higher fence and all sign together they have agreed to paying for the new fence and will retain her smaller fence on her land.

She needs a good neighbour, not a dispute.

Good luck

Twinkle***

IdefixUK
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Re: Fence issue with new neighbour

Post by IdefixUK » Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:26 pm

I do agree with twinkle that your Mum needs a good neighbour and not a dispute. If you eventually soften your stance and allow for the old fence to be dismantled and the neighbour pays to erect a new one in it's place, my advice to you is to take lots of photos and measurements before hand. If you look through the topic of fences and boundaries on this forum you will find many cases where neighbour's manage to " pinch an inch" or more when replacing fences. By doing this,and letting the neighbour know that you have, may prevent a dispute later. Infact why not invite the neighbour to measure up with you beforehand.
Regards .

aliceinw
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Re: Fence issue with new neighbour

Post by aliceinw » Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:23 pm

Thanks for all your replies.

I admit I could have have filled in the form better - I have never have been very good at figuring left/right hence why I wrote "between 13 and 15 - 13 (mum) maintains" and "between 15 (new neighbour) and 17 it is shared". I'm pretty sure he never asked mum about the new fence he was proposing more told her that he was going to do that - I believe he also commented on her fence the other side (nothing to do with him) in that it wasn't great to look at. Yes talking to clear this up is the way forward - hopefully we can come to an agreement where they put their own fence at their own expense as they want more privacy and mum can keep hers as like I said it is a pretty good one that will last a good few more years.

aliceinw
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Re: Fence issue with new neighbour

Post by aliceinw » Wed Aug 29, 2018 10:34 pm

Hi

Things have moved on a bit since I last posted on this so need a bit more advice.

There are no deeds to the neighbours property as I found a letter from a solicitor dated 10 years ago saying they were having a clear out, unfortunately I came up this information 10 years to late to pick them up. What I have found is the original Conveyancing document from the 1960's in here it clearly states that all boundary walls and fences are deemed to be mesme or party walls.

Mum tried talking to the neighbours last week which didn't go very well - they started quoting deeds (which don't exist) and that they will be taking mum's fence down and replacing it with one of their own. My question is if it is a party fence that mum paid for (as I am guessing the conveyancing document holds more weight than my confusing answers on the sellers questionnaire) can they do this without mum's agreement? Secondly in the meantime as we still want to put up the small bit of willow as it is now a party fence can they object to this and remove it if we put it our side of the fence? I can see from their side it could be difficult putting a new fence parallel to the one that is there due to the closeness of the decking but I really think the way they have gone about it has been well out of order.

Hope someone can advise.

IdefixUK
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Re: Fence issue with new neighbour

Post by IdefixUK » Thu Aug 30, 2018 11:26 pm

Alice,
I cannot see any ambiguity in what you have written in the sellers information pack, you have made it clear that the fence between No13 and No15 was maintained by the owner of No13.
In your last post you say there are no deeds to No15, yet earlier you said that you have a copy from when it was sold earlier this year. On that copy from earlier this year is there any mention of the fences being mesne fences?...and any wording suggesting shared maintenance?
My thoughts so far.
If the fence is a mesne fence (and logically this will be mentioned somewhere in the deeds to No15) then generally it would be considered that the fence is in joint ownership. If this is the case then neither party can change the fence without the consent/agreement of the other party. You don't own half each, the whole fence is in joint ownership. So your neighbour can object to the addition of the willow piece added by your mum even though it might be attached to the side of the fence facing No13, equally the neighbour cannot unilaterally replace the whole of the fence either--- it's sort of legal stalemate.

Check to see if the paperwork you have to hand mentions the fences as being mesne .If not go,on the genuine Land Registry web site and download a fresh copy of the title deeds for No15.( debit card £3). When you have that document look to see if there is mention of the 1960s conveyance, (or the paperwork available at the time of first registration) and if so if it says "copy filed" then you can then fill-in form OC2 (download) and send it off with your cheque for £7 to get this document WHICH FORMS PART OF THE DEEDS.
It is this paper that you need to show to your neighbour (give him a photocopy) so that he will then be fully aware that the fence is a mesne fence and that then he cannot just do as he pleases.

However this still leaves you with the jumping dog situation. Can you attach the willow section to a couple of posts sunk in the ground on your mum's side of the fence so that it doesn't quite touch the existing fence? So long as it isn't over two metres high,or lean over the boundary,your neighbour cannot do a thing about it, indeed if he does it might be considered to be criminal damage (police matter) rather than the dealings with the fence itself (civil matter...no police interest)
Hopefully other posters will comment on your situation as well in due course, some might disagree with what I have said, or propose a better way forward. So sad that it has come to this.

Regards

MacadamB53
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Re: Fence issue with new neighbour

Post by MacadamB53 » Fri Aug 31, 2018 12:47 am

Hi IdefixUK,

You don't own half each

the word ‘mesne’ means just that - they own half each.

kind regards, Mac

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