Fence dispute with Housing Association?

by Readers Question

16:18 PM, 23rd January 2017
About 2 years ago

Fence dispute with Housing Association?

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Fence dispute with Housing Association?

The fence between my property and the neighbours blew down near the start of last year.fence

The fence is believed to be a shared fence as the property deeds do not show a “T” on either side of the boundary and no evidence to dispute this has been found.

The neighbouring property is owned by a housing association, so I contacted them to discuss “us” getting it replaced with a new fence and sharing the cost.

They have informed me that it is their tenants responsibility to pay for their half of the costs as that is a term they put in their tenancy agreements and to discuss it with them.

Well, to start with this seems unfair as it’s the housing association’s property, but I guess if that’s how they operate then so be it.

However, the fence was down before the current tenant moved in, so as this fence was damaged between tenancies surely the housing association should pay their half in this case?

Spoke to the tenant regarding the situation and they said they could not afford to pay anything towards the cost at present. Housing association said they spoke with tenant and said that their tenant had told them they would try and save some money toward the cost but they did not know how long this would take.

After 6 months spoke with tenant again who said they still had no money to pay toward cost.

Spoke to housing association to inform them of tenants situation and they responded with the following – “As we previously told you it’s up to the tenant to pay for their half of the fence as stated in their tenancy agreement, however, we cannot enforce the tenant to repair or replace the fence”.

So, they cannot enforce that their tenant complies with the terms of their tenancy agreement!

It has now been close to a year and I still don’t have a fence! My tenants are an elderly couple and don’t really use the garden that much, however, out of principle I don’t see why the housing association should not pay for half the cost.

Anyone have any advice or thoughts?

Thanks

Lordship



Comments

Gary Dully

20:01 PM, 23rd January 2017
About 2 years ago

I thought that landlords are responsible for boundaries, I know that rent smart Wales take that viewpoint, as it was part of their training course.

I have also had to repair fences in Lincolnshire under orders from their environmental health department.

It must be a legal requirement, if so, it 'trumps' any tenancy agreement.

terry sullivan

10:08 AM, 24th January 2017
About 2 years ago

legal requirement? why?

Peter Wood (alias) Hawkeye

10:25 AM, 24th January 2017
About 2 years ago

As the tenants are elderly and seem amenable, a helper approach may work. I would approach them and kindly say 'I'm sure as tenants, that you should not be responsible for the boundary, and sure that the HA is wrong. If I was to look through your tenancy agreement with you, perhaps we can get something done about it. I don't see why you should have to pay,as they are the landlords'. Good Luck

Chris Harris

10:40 AM, 24th January 2017
About 2 years ago

It would seem to me that any responsibility for the boundary fence rests with the freeholder or leaseholder of the property ( in this case the Housing Association). That they have chosen to subrogate the obligation to repair to their tenant is their decision and between them and their tenant, not between you and them. I think you should be able to look to the Housing Association to share the cost of remedying the situation and that it would be up to them to recover that cost from their tenants.

Were the position reversed I suspect that they would take that stance with you.

Just my view, I am not a solicitor.

Steven Burman

11:17 AM, 24th January 2017
About 2 years ago

You say that when the fence blew down the neighbouring property was occupied by a different tenant? If this is so then the HA should have carried out an inspection of the property when the previous tenant vacated and should have taken steps to ensure that the tenant paid for any 'damage'. You need to establish whether this was done (although I doubt it).

The current tenant should not be held accountable for what is effectively the previous tenants problem.

I would tell the HA that legal action will follow if they dont meet half the cost. Follow this up by getting papers served on them by the slamm claims court (Money Claim). You can do this on-line for a small fee.

It sounds to me as though the HA are doing their best to screw you over.

Good luck.

Seething Landlord

11:31 AM, 24th January 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Chris Harris" at "24/01/2017 - 10:40":

I think Chris Harris is absolutely correct. You are not a party to the agreement between the housing association and their tenant and in my opinion they cannot therefore rely on its terms to avoid their responsibility to share with you the cost of maintaining the common boundary. I would be inclined to obtain estimates for the work and send them to the HA with a letter setting out the position, asking for their agreement within 14 days that the cost is reasonable and they will pay half the cost. Say that in the absence of a favourable reply you propose to have the work carried out and will seek to recover half the cost from them, through the small claims court if necessary.

As with any legal issue you will need to consider and respond to any counter arguments that they might advance.

This is not to be taken or relied on as professional advice, it is just my personal opinion.

Peter Wood (alias) Hawkeye

11:49 AM, 24th January 2017
About 2 years ago

When you say 'the fence is believed to be a shared fence as the property deeds do not show a “T” on either side of the boundary and no evidence to dispute this has been found'. Where did you search ? Just the land registry, just your deeds / the HA deeds / the Councils records dept / the HA planning dept / historical imagery, etc.

Do you have anything in writing from the HA to say that it is a 'presumed' shared fence, and so implying that they (or their tenants) are liable for 50% repair costs ?

As Chris says 'You should be able to look to the Housing Association to share the cost of remedying the situation and that it would be up to them to recover that cost from their tenants, if the latter is applicable. The Citizen's advice bureau should be able to help with tenancy questions, perhaps visit them with your neighbour - show you would like to help, show you care..

However, if it is a big fence, you may want to consider involving a solicitor & subsequent costs ? or if nothing worked out in your favour at the end, could you afford to have the work done yourself ?

However, there does seem to be a principle involved, for part responsibility, whether or not the HA admit it.

I would formerly notify the HA in writing (to the appropriate person) that you believe it is their responsibility (unless they can prove otherwise) and that the fence now has to be repaired, due to it's condition, and that it has been over a year since you first contacted them, and they have not had the work done.

Say that unless you hear back from them within 30 days, you will get 3-4 quotes for the fencing work, and that you will expect them to pay 50% of the cost as a shared boundary. Notify them again within a further 30 days, of your chosen supplier, and that you will proceed to have the work undertaken, and you will be seeking a 50% shared cost for the work.... then decide if you want to go ahead, but you have given them two months to come to a formal arrangement.

Freda Blogs

12:00 PM, 24th January 2017
About 2 years ago

I am guessing you will have dealt with someone fairly junior in the HA. If so, I suggest you call their switchboard and get names of senior people to write to, and/or the name of their solicitor if they have an internal one. They will not want to be falling foul of the law or getting into neighbour disputes.

I would also ask for some evidence that they have delegated the responsibility to the tenant.

terry sullivan

12:09 PM, 24th January 2017
About 2 years ago

HAs tend to be b#st*rdos!

Chris Harris

12:23 PM, 24th January 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Freda Blogs" at "24/01/2017 - 12:00":

"I would also ask for some evidence that they have delegated the responsibility to the tenant."

If it was me I definitely would not dot this is as the HA may simply use it to confuse and delay.

If the HA own the property ( either freehold or leasehold) the fence, or any dispute about the fence, is a matter for them. Any agreement they have with their tenant is a red herring.

All IMVHO

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