FEUDS started over fences are a common occurrence between neighbours, but what should you do when next door’s fence falls over?
One homeowner was not best pleased when their neighbour’s fence blew over into their garden and wasn’t removed straight away.
They wrote to the Financial Times, detto: “My next-door neighbour’s fence blew down into my garden during a storm a few months ago.
“It is still there, and it is making my garden look incredibly shabby.
“My neighbour erected the fence a few years ago. Nobody has maintained or agreed to maintain it since.”
This issue is fairly common, as fences often fall down or need replacing due to wear and tear or harsh weather.
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It’s advisable to find out who’s responsible for the fence before any issues arise.
Who’s responsible for the fence?
A common myth is that you’re responsible for the left-hand boundary of your property – though this isn’t always the case.
To ascertain who needs to maintain, repair, or remove the fence, there are some checks you can carry out.
You shouldn’t assume the fence is your neighbour’s problem, even if they erected it to begin with.
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Find the boundary
To determine whether a fence is your responsibility or your neighbour’s, the first thing you need to do is check where your boundary is.
This can be found in the deeds to your property.
If you don’t have a copy, puoi get them from Land Registry, for as little as £3.
Through the service, you can find information about a property and how far its general boundaries extend, even if you do not own it.
It’s important to remember that the deeds won’t specifically state who is responsible for the boundary, and sometimes the perimeters outlined are generalised.
Though it may have a T mark which shows which side of the fence is yours to maintain.
The information found in the documents can help you build a case, but be advised it cannot be relied upon solely.
Talk it out
This sounds rather simple, but a bit of communication could save you a lot of trouble in the long run, so just ask them if they’re willing to take responsibility up front.
By doing this, you’re likely to avoid any escalation of the matter, which could potentially cost you a lot more than the price of a new fence.
Should things become heated and lead you to think you may need to go to court, first consider mediation – it’s not free, but it’s considerably cheaper than going to court.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Property Litigation Association created a mediation service to help neighbours resolve boundary disputes.
RICS also provides a list of surveyors who could assist in boundary disputes.
Speak to the landlords
If neither you nor your neighbour own the property, then it may be that you’re both unwilling to take responsibility for a new fence.
In this case, you could ask both your landlord and your neighbour’s which property is responsible for it.
Landlords are responsible for repairs to fencing and gates – unless the tenant has caused the damage.
If the broken fence is upsetting you, you could consider carefully putting it back.
Maria Rossella, head of property litigation at Wright Hassall, disse: “If the neighbour refuses liability, you could simply put the fence carefully back into their garden.”
Lei ha aggiunto: “If you think this may cause an issue, inform them that they are trespassing and causing a nuisance, and that you require them to remove the fence – called ‘abating the nuisance’.”
Rouse recommends giving the neighbour a set timescale, for example seven days, and explaining that if the fence is not off your property by then you will dispose of it or take legal action.
Call the council
Rouse ha detto: “As a last resort, you could report them to the council and see if they will investigate.”
The council has power to bring a case in the Magistrates’ Court if it decides it’s a statutory nuisance (unlawful interference with a person’s use or enjoyment of land).
Though the council can’t take on every case, especially if it’s not clear where responsibility for the fence lies.
Rouse ha detto: "Finalmente, you could instruct a solicitor to bring a civil claim to obtain an order requiring your neighbour to collect the fence or permitting you to dispose of it.”
Altrove, one property expert shares the 20 things you need to check when buying a house.
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