Boundary covenants

Boundary covenants

Postby BelindaB » Thu Oct 26, 2017 6:46 pm

My first post here. I've read a lot of the threads, and while there has been some very useful information for me, I just wanted to clarify an issue ...

My property (and the surrounding properties which were all built at the same time) have the 'open plan' front gardens, although lots of trees and shrubs have grown in peoples' gardens over the years so they don't necessarily have that open plan feel.

I've lived in the house since the beginning of the year and several weeks ago had a conversation with my neighbour (previously friendly, we said hello and exchanged pleasantries) who said I shouldn't have the shrubs in my front garden (next to her lawn) as they are not allowed and I should get them cut down. She mentioned the covenants, so I looked at them ..

There is a covenant that states that "no boundary hedge, wall or fence should be erected to the front of the property line."
I've had the covenants checked by a solicitor and yes, they have been passed down to the subsequent owners, so can be enforced by neighbours (not the builder).

My main issue is that the shrubs (or hedge, as she says they are, and yes they have joined together), are not on the boundary, they are planted 1-3 feet within my garden. By rights, I could go and stand behind them, towards her house, and still be on my land.

So am I right in saying that they are not breeching the covenant because they don't form the boundary? The are completely my shrubs and I am responsible for them. There is no actual boundary feature at this part of the garden - there's my shrubs, then a small strip of bare soil (mine) then her grass.

I'm at a loss as to why they're such an issue, as another neighbour says they've been at the same height for years. They also don't cut light from her house as she's on higher ground than me. She's not speaking to me now, either, because I said I thought they were fine :roll:
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Re: Boundary covenants

Postby Eliza » Fri Oct 27, 2017 2:33 pm

Sounds like you're experiencing "New neighbour syndrome" from her. That being - the neighbour has put up with whatever they don't like for literally years. However, the second a new neighbour moves then they try it on to make new neighbour do what they want. It does sound like there is a covenant against the shrubs, but she hasnt enforced it for the years the previous owner was there and therefore is highly unlikely to try enforcing it now. In your situation, then I'd make sure the shrubs don't start poking over the boundary ever, but I'd leave them there if I actually wanted them.
Apologies for not giving exact personal details in my posts - you never know who is reading....
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Re: Boundary covenants

Postby MacadamB53 » Fri Oct 27, 2017 4:58 pm

Hi BelindaB,

no boundary hedge, wall or fence should be erected to the front of the property line.

I may be mistaken, but from my interpretation of the above, the phrase "to the front of the property line" is referencing the front boundary - the "property line" is the edge of your land, not your house - which means that you cannot have a boundary feature between your garden and the pavement out front.

for it to mean you cannot have a boundary feature between gardens I'd expect to see the words "forward of" or similar.

kind regards, Mac
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Re: Boundary covenants

Postby BelindaB » Fri Oct 27, 2017 6:34 pm

Hi Eliza,
Yes, I think I am suffering from 'new neighbour syndrome'. I have photographic evidence of the shrubs and their height from nearly ten years ago from Google Maps. So have printed that out just in case. If they've been the same height and shape for tens years then hopefully nothing can be done.

Hi Mac,
Thanks for the explanation. I was relying on my (awful) memory which was silly of me. Here's the full sentence:
no boundary walls division fences or hedges shall be erected or planted by the purchaser in front of the front line of the building.

Coincidentally, the 'hedge' (shrubs) starts at the side of my garden, not in front of the property line. Also, having had a really good look this afternoon they are definitely planted on my land, they are not the boundary. I've been stood on land to the back of them today, they just happen to be the last plants before the neighbours land starts.
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Re: Boundary covenants

Postby MacadamB53 » Fri Oct 27, 2017 7:10 pm

Hi BelindaB,

firstly, if these shrubs have been in situ for at least a few years she will struggle to convince a court that she is owed much by way of compensation.

why not mark out the boundary by laying a line of rocks or filling a ditch with gravel/pebbles - wholly on your side, obviously.

then I'd be tempted to tell the neighbour I appreciate her point but would want to keep the shrubs - could she advise whereabouts in my garden I could replant them without them being considered a "boundary hedge"? (just to force home the point - I would not move the shrubs).

have any properties in the immediate vicinity breached this covenant? (assuming all properties on the estate are bound by the same).

if the answer is "yes" she can take a running jump - she has no case.

kind regards, Mac
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Re: Boundary covenants

Postby BelindaB » Fri Oct 27, 2017 7:59 pm

Hi Mac,

I have quite a few pieces of old York stone hanging around so I will put them in the gap behind the shrubs.

Yes, every other house has breached the covenant - some with shrubs and trees that have merged together over the years, a few with proper conifer hedges as a boundary (one's about nine foot tall). The only house that is still very open belongs to this neighbour. I pointed out to her that everyone else has very established gardens and boundaries, but she said she didn't care what everyone else was doing.
I'm also assuming every house has the same covenants (there are others like no poultry in gardens etc ...). I can't see what anyone would gain from just my property having this covenant. Is there any way to find out? I downloaded the neighbour's title from the land registry, but it just says:
A Transfer of the land in this title dated xxxxxx made between (1 )xxxxx and (2) xxxxx and xxxxxx contains restrictive covenants.
Nothing more about covenants.
I presume though, that if the neighbour knows about the covenants then they must be on their own, too.
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Re: Boundary covenants

Postby MacadamB53 » Fri Oct 27, 2017 8:27 pm

Hi BelindaB,

might be worth trying to record the next conversation you have with the neighbour on this subject or have a witness b cause she has much to say and most of it would strength your defence if she ever took this to court (that's her only option apart from trying to persuade you in person).

kind regards, Mac
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Re: Boundary covenants

Postby BelindaB » Mon Nov 06, 2017 9:02 pm

MacadamB53 wrote:Hi BelindaB,

might be worth trying to record the next conversation you have with the neighbour on this subject or have a witness b cause she has much to say and most of it would strength your defence if she ever took this to court (that's her only option apart from trying to persuade you in person).

kind regards, Mac


I will be keeping my phone with me when I'm on the garden from now on. Fortunately though I know her routine quite well, so i try to garden when she is out. I'm not great with confrontation :(
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Re: Boundary covenants

Postby stufe35 » Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:42 pm

Doesn't sound like your shrubs are either a boundary hedge, a wall or a fence....so stop worrying. Next time she mentions it just point out that fact. I like the idea of a row of stones just on your side of the boundary line, you can point at them and say that they are the boundary feature.

We look forward to hearing her next winge !

I think you are going to have to get used to smiling politely, nodding and doing nothing...she will get the message after a while.

Say things like..."oh is that what you would do if you owned this garden ? That's very interesting , Did you see strictly come dancing last night ?"
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Re: Boundary covenants

Postby liveinpeace » Wed Jan 24, 2018 2:33 pm

what a nice warm welcome to the neighbourhood.
It is such a shame that some peoples lives are so small they have to cause such unnecessary stress over something so small and pointless.
I have been treated to a new neighbour syndrome, just don't show any signs of weakness, or next it will be where or how you park your car or put your wheelie bins.
do your best not to let one persons actions stress you out,(as I have got myself in a right pickle at times) for every nasty neighbour there are usually a dozen decent ones.
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Re: Boundary covenants

Postby jonahinoz » Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:12 pm

I like the idea of a row of stones just on your side of the boundary line, you can point at them and say that they are the boundary feature.

Hi.

I presume there is nothing to prevent you laying a concrete path, 750mm wide, all round you three boundaries, then placing planters on the paths?

John W
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Re: Boundary covenants

Postby BelindaB » Wed Jan 24, 2018 6:26 pm

jonahinoz wrote: I like the idea of a row of stones just on your side of the boundary line, you can point at them and say that they are the boundary feature.

Hi.

I presume there is nothing to prevent you laying a concrete path, 750mm wide, all round you three boundaries, then placing planters on the paths?

John W


Only that it's on a slope (towards me) and curved. It'd look a fright (from their side), and I'm not that mean (like the idea though) :D
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Re: Boundary covenants

Postby jonahinoz » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:07 am

I pointed out to her that everyone else has very established gardens and boundaries, but she said she didn't care what everyone else was doing.

Hi Belinda B,

Morally, she has a valid argument, she bought her house believing that it was protected by a covenant restricting her neighbours from developing their gardens.

The law would have agreed with her ... if she had taken action immediately. By allowing her neighbours frontages to be turned into gardens, I think ESTOPPEL will prevent her enforcing the covenant now. The only way she can enforce it is by taking legal action, and risk it costing her a lot of money. Tens of thousands?

The judge may wonder why she is only complaining about you? Your other neighbours may worry, if she wins, about her taking similar action being taken against them? You might think that if the are not for you, (Not sharing your defence costs) they are against you, and I you lose, you would be justified against taking similar action against all of them? I'm not saying that you should do this ... just maybe drop it into a conversation, point out that she will become very unpopular, as will you.

Are there any other covenants, which this lady may have broken, inadvertently, and need pointing out?

Is there a covenant preventing you turning your front garden into a home for wayward gnomes ... dozens of them ... all facing her garden? Ask her if she would mind.

John W
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Re: Boundary covenants

Postby BelindaB » Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:58 pm

Hi John, thanks for the interesting info.

Yes, she has broken a covenant in her rear garden by having a hedge over the height stated in a restricted covenant. This does not border me, but the neighbour on the opposite side. All other houses (apart from mine) have also broken this covenant, so the neighbourhood has changed considerably.

My main worry is she seem to be one of those people who wants to have the last word :( However, I have told myself to try and make light of the situation, rather than let it upset me (although sometimes easier said than done when she stops outside my house and stares in my windows ... but if she wants to waste her life doing that then it's fine ...)

Thanks again,
B
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Re: Boundary covenants

Postby MacadamB53 » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:03 pm

Hi BelindaB,

Yes, she has broken a covenant in her rear garden by having a hedge over the height stated in a restricted covenant.

in which case, as mentioned before, she can take a running jump - she would almost certainly not win if she bothered to take you to court (which is her only option apart from persuading you to meet her demands).

in effect, the covenant is redundant and she cannot claim her property is still benefiting from it whilst denying your property the same benefit...

This does not border me, but the neighbour on the opposite side.

doesn’t matter...

All other houses (apart from mine) have also broken this covenant, so the neighbourhood has changed considerably.

(assuming you’ve seen the deeds to some of these other properties and noted they contain an identical covenant?) makes things even clearer - ignore her demands, and make her aware they are now groundless due to the multiple breaches.

kind regards, Mac
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