Fence dispute with Housing Association?

by Readers Question

16:18 PM, 23rd January 2017
About 4 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


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Comments

Monty Bodkin

8:18 AM, 26th January 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Seething Landlord" at "25/01/2017 - 12:51":

There is no such covenant mentioned and nothing stated about the history to suggest it.

In the absence of a covenant or any clear evidence to the contrary the presumption would be..

That is just your presumption of what you think the law should be.

It could be very expensive for the O.P if they take legal action based on such advice.

Seething Landlord

11:12 AM, 26th January 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Monty Bodkin" at "26/01/2017 - 08:18":

Sorry Monty, I assumed that it would be understood that I was using the word "presumption" in the technical legal sense i.e."A legal presumption is a conclusion based upon a particular set of facts, combined with established laws, logic or reasoning. It is a rule of law which allows a court to assume a fact is true until it is rebutted by the greater weight (preponderance) of the evidence against it."

There is useful guidance at
http://www.expertanswers.co.uk/blog/fence-boundaries/

which includes the following: "When examining the map, you will see marks in the shape of a T on the plan and the T points in the direction of the owner that has to maintain the boundary walls, the boundary fencing or the hedge. If there is a H straddling both sides of the fence, this is a party wall. If there is no marking on the deeds, a common occurrence, the law makes a presumption. It presumes that the owner of each side is responsible for repairing the fence."

Obviously no comment from me or anyone else on a discussion forum should be taken as anything more than a personal view which may or may not be correct.

William Williams

9:45 AM, 28th January 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "John Pettman" at "24/01/2017 - 14:06":

I would agree. Where I have fenced gardens I invariably end up repairing or replacing boundary fences. It avoids constant complaints from my tenants while responsiblity for repairs is argued with the neighbours. For the sake of a few hundred pounds you have a happy tenant.

Seething Landlord

11:37 AM, 28th January 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Bill Williams" at "28/01/2017 - 09:45":

That's exactly what I've done on a couple of occasions recently. It's the pragmatic approach for those who can afford it and can't be bothered to chase the neighbour for their share but it's easy to forget that many landlords are struggling financially and can't afford to lose even small amounts. Getting the work done in the first instance does not mean that you have to abandon seeking a recovery from the neighbour.
This thread has moved away a bit from the original question which was really about whether the Housing Association could avoid responsibility by relying on a clause in their tenancy agreement which purported to make the tenant responsible for repairs. Allowing them to get away with it may not amount to much in a single case but multiply it by the number of properties that they own and they are potentially saving thousands at the expense of private owners, be they landlords or owner occupiers.

Darren Peters

11:52 AM, 28th January 2017
About 4 years ago

Don't take this as advice just tongue in cheek, if you can afford to build say a wooden fence, build it 1m or so over the neighbouring property's apparent boundary and sit back. Either someone at a high level from the HA/solicitor will get in touch quickly & you move the fence or you wait 12 (?) years and gain some land by adverse possession...

Stephen Smith

7:06 AM, 20th February 2017
About 4 years ago

Hi

The law likes certainty and with this in mind if the deeds, the Land Registry does not show the ownership, then ask neighbours who owns what, who maintains, which side the fence posts are on, what has become the accepted position for ownership of the fence, and so forth

What do your deeds show? It must contain a caveat concerning the maintenance of fences, all do.

If it is yours, then fix it, if it is theirs, the Housing Association fixes it. If it is really the case that it cannot be determined, (????), then get an estimate, send them a copy and state that the work will be done in 14 days and you expect them to pay their contribution, whatever it is.

The matter of the liability, the tenant personally, is not your problem.

What would the situation be if their dog attacked you, or your dog attacked their grandchild? Or a visitors dog etc etc.

Send a letter recorded delivery, get a signature, then back it up with a phone call, asking for names at every instance. My experience of HA, or councils is "can you prove the letter was sent, in that case we haven't got it", this is without even looking !

Be polite, but firm.

Stephen

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