Neighbours claims after building work unreasonable?

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orangepear
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Neighbours claims after building work unreasonable?

Post by orangepear » Mon Mar 05, 2018 3:20 pm

We could really do with some good advice on this upsetting situation with our neighbours.

We are currently renovating our new home (not living there yet) and have just received three quotes between £5000-£8000 from garden landscape companies from our neighbours for what they consider is the damage we have caused to their property and garden during our garden work.

As background: our large but unloved garden was on 2 levels when we bought the house and so we quickly realised after professional advice that we needed to build a retaining wall with boundary fence on top if we wanted to make the garden one level. (Before the garden became inaccessible to machinery). We wanted to do this as we have 3 small children and wanted the space for them to run around in.

In order to do this we had to take down the old fence (ours as LHS denotes ownership on our street) on the boundary. On this boundary we had a large wisteria that the neighbours had already mentioned to us on first meeting them. They'd said that our wisteria went over our fence and covered their garden and could we please protect it as it was their pride and joy -they've lived their 5 years.

We said we'd do all we can to leave it. It became apparent after talking to a few landscape gardeners that to build the retaining wall the only option was to actually remove the wisteria as it was large, in the way and could weaken the integrity of the wall once built if we tried to build around it (which we considered but ultimately took a big bite out of our garden and would look ugly) Obviously the neighbours were very upset and took this badly - they didn't seem to believe us. We were very apologetic.

On building the retaining wall the builders had to remove the old fence which was also totally covered in the neighbour's ivy. The ivy was also intertwined with barbed wire and a very old wrought iron arbour. After the fence was removed we received several emails showing the arbour was broken in several places and also that they'd spent 3 years training the ivy which we'd now destroyed.The neighbours have said the builders cut the arbour deliberately (which the builders dispute). The builders also dislodged a raised planter/ sleepers when removing the old fence (as it was butted up to our boundary fence) in their garden which is rotten and has now crumbled somewhat.

At the time, we offered to weld and mend the arbour and repair the planters which they refused claiming our builders were not good craftsmen.

The neighbours quotes include the following work:

- removal of all the wisteria from their garden plus wires it was trained on. They are saying:
"as the wisteria is yours, and now in its dead form constitutes, technically, a ‘nuisance’, it is your responsibility to remove. This includes cutting down the overhead wires outside our kitchen and replacing them."

- replacement of wires for them to train something else on
- replacement of raised planters (rotten) rather than repair
- replacement of arbour (or repair)
- purchase and planting of 12 Jasmine plants to be trained up our new fence as we removed/ damaged ivy that they'd spent 3 years growing and training up the boundary fence.

On top of this, they have also asked us to render their side of our retaining wall as their garden is lower than ours so it is visible to them. It is currently just blockwork.

Please can we get some advice on what our obligations are in legal terms and what people think is fair generally.

Many thanks for all your help with this.

span
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Re: Neighbours claims after building work unreasonable?

Post by span » Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:48 pm

I think it's fair to say they're testing you to see how soft you are and how far they can push you.

They're clearly self-interested selfish pisstakers.

Ignore them completely and totally from now on. Don't engage on any level with them. Not even to reply rejecting their demands.

BelindaB
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Re: Neighbours claims after building work unreasonable?

Post by BelindaB » Mon Mar 05, 2018 9:06 pm

I agree with Span. They're testing you and hoping you'll be worried about the quotes (can't believe someone would be that cheeky!). I'd also agree that you shouldn't react, but know from experience this is sometimes easier said than done.

To try and put your mind at rest (and hopefully I've read everything correctly):

1. The wisteria was yours to do with as you see fit. Just because they have enjoyed it for some years does not mean they can dictate what you do with it if it was growing from your garden. They chose to allow it to grow on wires and it doesn't sound like it was a "nuisance" during the time the previous owner lived there

2. Why on earth should you replace something that's in their garden?

3 & 4. That's a tricky one. If they were damaged by the people taking the fence/ivy down then I suppose there's a chance you may have to replace them ... But who knows what they were like before the fence was removed? Perhaps it just exposed the damage that was already there?

5. Again, it was your plant to do with as you wished. Granted, it sounds like it has encroached on the neighbours land during the time the house was owned by someone else, but it seems they encouraged it to do so. They should buy their own plants (the stingy beggars!)

6. It's your wall. You don't have to do anything to it, in a cosmetic sense.

I'd take pictures of your garden every so often so you have a photographic record of what your garden looks like in case they do anything, especially with the wall.

MacadamB53
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Re: Neighbours claims after building work unreasonable?

Post by MacadamB53 » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:00 pm

span wrote:I think it's fair to say they're testing you to see how soft you are and how far they can push you.

They're clearly self-interested selfish pisstakers.

Ignore them completely and totally from now on. Don't engage on any level with them. Not even to reply rejecting their demands.
+1

Collaborate
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Re: Neighbours claims after building work unreasonable?

Post by Collaborate » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:46 pm

You were entitled to remove anything they had attached to your fence. If it thereby broke, that’s tough. You’re not liable.

SwitchRich
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Re: Neighbours claims after building work unreasonable?

Post by SwitchRich » Wed Mar 07, 2018 10:25 am

I think the forum has spoken on legalities of what you are responsible for. It does seem beyond cheeky to see what they have asked for but they are hurt and emotional at the changes to their garden by your perfectly legal actions.

However you will be living there every day and probably plan to stay for years. Acrimony between neighbours can ruin how you enjoy your property especially when you are in the garden. I've read posts on this forum where people shout at each other over their garden fence everytime they see each other, some don't like letting their kids in the garden because of abuse from neighbours. etc etc.
If relations still have a chance of repair then perhaps be the bigger person and offer to meet perhaps in the local pub to discuss face to face? Somewhere neutral.
Recognise their hurt but be firm that your decision RE the retaining wall was the right thing to do. And that you are now here to try and make amends.

If they want 12 Jasmine plants why not offer to buy them? If you have a favorite why not suggest one? or go with whatever they want. Talk about how beautiful they will look in a few years.
I've no idea if this olive branch would work but one thing is for sure if you ignore their demands as you are entitled to do, then they will hate you forever perhaps morphing into a NFH situation with tit for tat repercussions.

Just a suggestion from my side :)

despair
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Re: Neighbours claims after building work unreasonable?

Post by despair » Wed Mar 07, 2018 12:53 pm

The above idea is a reasonable way forward
They most certainly cannot demand the figures they are claiming
I trust you have photos of the state of their arbor or raised beds as they are useful evidence if these fools try smallclaims court

if you have discussions with them do point out that it was illegal for them to train ivy up your fence anyway
Its also illegal for them to touch or attach anything to your property
but thatyou will provide jasmine plants on strict terms that they grow them up trellis panels not your new fence

orangepear
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Re: Neighbours claims after building work unreasonable?

Post by orangepear » Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:54 pm

Thank you all for your advice. We have tried talking to them reasonably about things over the course of the work but to no avail. I like the idea of a chat in the pub but in reality i don't know. We are so stressed with the build and our financial issues anyway that we feel we cannot take more stress.

I did not respond to first email and have now received another repeating the first plus this line at the end:

"This email also now represents our officially ‘putting you on notice’ for the ‘nuisance' of the dead wisteria.

I said we were getting some advice and asked her to clarify what she meant by the above and she wrote back:

I’m sure your advisor can clarify what the phrase about ‘nuisance’ means. (You are legally obligated to deal with such ‘notices’).

We just don't know what to do about it.

More advice please!

Thanks so much

despair
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Re: Neighbours claims after building work unreasonable?

Post by despair » Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:01 pm

Their ivy growing up your fence constituted nuiscance because you would have to have kept removing /cutting it back

They cultivated your wisteria and encouraged it to grow round wires their side so they have creeated what they perceive as
Nuiscance and since it seems you had discussions with them all along they are the ones being totally unrealistic




Is it feasible to remove it from your side ? ...the only possible claim of nuiscance is one they created and the problems of actually removing and disposing of the dead wisteria at the tip

arborlad
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Re: Neighbours claims after building work unreasonable?

Post by arborlad » Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:07 pm

orangepear wrote:- removal of all the wisteria from their garden plus wires it was trained on. They are saying:
"as the wisteria is yours, and now in its dead form constitutes, technically, a ‘nuisance’, it is your responsibility to remove. .".



On this specific point, the neighbours are correct.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people

orangepear
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Re: Neighbours claims after building work unreasonable?

Post by orangepear » Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:28 pm

Hi arborlad
But i thought they could throw it over our side and we'd have to dispose of it - not that we'd have to pay someone to go round and do it plus all the rest?

MacadamB53
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Re: Neighbours claims after building work unreasonable?

Post by MacadamB53 » Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:32 pm

arborlad wrote:
orangepear wrote:- removal of all the wisteria from their garden plus wires it was trained on. They are saying:
"as the wisteria is yours, and now in its dead form constitutes, technically, a ‘nuisance’, it is your responsibility to remove. .".



On this specific point, the neighbours are correct.
+1 getting the dead wisteria cleared should be a priority as leaving it would likely be considered a civil wrong

arborlad
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Re: Neighbours claims after building work unreasonable?

Post by arborlad » Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:40 pm

orangepear wrote:Hi arborlad
But i thought they could throw it over our side and we'd have to dispose of it - not that we'd have to pay someone to go round and do it plus all the rest?


Your contractor should have done it anyway and included that in his costs.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people

orangepear
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Re: Neighbours claims after building work unreasonable?

Post by orangepear » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:05 pm

So although they trained our wisteria across their entire garden knowing it was ours, now that we have cut down the wisteria we DO have to remove it and replace wires?
Or can we just say we'll dispose of it if they chuck it over?
Or thirdly, can we say we'll go and remove it ourselves ? We offered to do that previously but they said they only want a professional gardener to do it!

arborlad
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Re: Neighbours claims after building work unreasonable?

Post by arborlad » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:46 pm

orangepear wrote:So although they trained our wisteria across their entire garden knowing it was ours, now that we have cut down the wisteria we DO have to remove it and replace wires?
Or can we just say we'll dispose of it if they chuck it over?
Or thirdly, can we say we'll go and remove it ourselves ? We offered to do that previously but they said they only want a professional gardener to do it!



In a nutshell, yes, your neighbour shouldn't have to go to any effort or expense to clear your arisings from their land. I'm amazed at the stance despair has taken on this, she frequently and vehemently complains when a hedge or tree is cut and the arisings are left on the neighbours land.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people

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