Land grab at tenanted property by new neighbour

Land grab at tenanted property by new neighbour

12:58 PM, 14th February 2014, About 8 years ago 36

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I have an issue at the moment which is causing me a slight headache.

On my tenanted end-of-terrace property, I received a contact request late summer from the new owner of the adjoining property via my managing agents. I duly made contact which revealed that he wanted to smarten up his new property and, as part of that, replace all the existing rear garden fencing on both sides.

Although I wasn’t previously aware, Land Registry records revealed that I had responsibility for maintaining the fencing on both sides of my property including that adjoining the neighbouring property. Land grab at tenanted property by new neighbour

The neighbouring owner wanted to replace all existing fencing, including that adjoining mine, at his own expense in order to improve the overall appearance of his own property. There was a “gap” at the end of the existing fencing, i.e. below standard panel size, which he was keen to “close”. This is the point at which my two fences are due to meet, represented by a sharp point giving the garden a triangular shape.

I duly agreed, as it would provide new fence panels on one side of my garden, and I thought not very much more about it, other than to inform the managing agents and tell them to make the tenants aware of pending work. I also told the neighbouring owner to speak to the managing agents regarding timescales so as to minimise disruption to my tenants.
This dialogue and, I presume, resultant work happened in October / November time when I was already fairly pre-occupied with the West Bromwich tracker rate hike issue. I didn’t go round to the property until January to check out a blown down fence panel on the other side of the property where it adjoins a communal car park. This I did from within the car park where I then noticed that the end fence panel and gravel board had both been removed, and replaced with a rear access gate.

My confusion continued when I realised that the gate led to the neighbour’s own garden, despite the gate bordering my own and the car park. Subsequent investigation revealed that the neighbour had redrawn the adjoining boundary line right across the rear of my garden to hive off the area corresponding to the final 6-foot panel and incorporate it into his own property. I emailed him and told him that the situation was clearly not acceptable and, following blustering about an innocent misunderstanding, was offered £5k as an alternative to restoring the fence line.

I subsequently gained access to my garden area, with agreement from the tenants, and noticed that the neighbour had actually removed all fence panels and concrete posts and re-sited each and every one of them, from a new starting point a further 4”-6.5” onto my land, from where it followed a new boundary line increasing the area of “land grab” and then at the end bearing a sharp right to cut of the last 6 feet.

I have since emailed the neighbour twice, in the absence of a home address, asking for full restitution and offering to put the details in writing to his solicitor if he wishes me to do so. I also suggested that I would simultaneously obtain my own quote in the event that he was unwilling or unable to action the work himself. , but offering to get my own quote otherwise. I have now received my own quote and emailed it to him earlier this week stating that, in view of his previous lack of response, I was preparing to carry out the work myself and seek to recover the costs from him, by going to law if necessary.

I have had no response from him, and in the absence of any home address for him, was wondering if I am in a position to go ahead with the work and send him the bill, and how long I should wait before contacting the Court Service.
By way of a footnote, my tenants will be vacating in early April and a new tenant will be moving in 7 days later, during which time I could probably arrange for the work to be undertaken by my managing agents’ maintenance firm.

Does anyone have any views or advice on the best way to proceed?

Sorry it’s a bit lengthy but I wanted to include everything of relevance.




by All BankersAreBarstewards Smith

16:32 PM, 14th February 2014, About 8 years ago

there re surveyors who are specialists in boundary line disputes and who might be able to assist.........

by Paul Eastabrook

16:48 PM, 14th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "All BankersAreBarstewards Smith" at "14/02/2014 - 16:32":

I did approach one many years ago (twice) in slightly different circumstances and he went out of his way to dissuade me from engaging him, as he talked about charging me £500 just to pick the paperwork up and look at it before even considering giving advice.

If you know of anyone who might be slightly more willing and cheaper, I'd give him a call straight away.

by All BankersAreBarstewards Smith

16:50 PM, 14th February 2014, About 8 years ago

I don't know any personally.

I would be tempted just to photograph it all, shift his fence and return it to its original place, photograph that and then keep a REALLY close eye on it. I hate bullies........

by Paul Eastabrook

17:13 PM, 14th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "All BankersAreBarstewards Smith" at "14/02/2014 - 16:50":

That does sound a very sensible approach. I'll only be doing what he did, but properly. I'm not actually sure if he moved my own concrete posts or replaced them with new. The fence panels are certainly new, and I note that my proposed contractor hasn't included replacing them in his quote. That does make me wonder whether I should just replace his and leave them in his garden or use them as if they are mine. I'm sure my old panels would have been taken up the council tip sometime late last year.

by Jeremy Smith

18:21 PM, 14th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Another thought:

Once you have moved the fence, immediately put up some sheds, right up against it !
Preferably something really heavy that once constructed, he won't be able to move....

..Have you thought about buying one of those prefabricated concrete garages, that should do it !!
Doesn't matter if you can't get vehicle access, they're useful for all sorts of other things... it might make your property more lettable (or higher rent) with a "workshop" in the back !!

by Paul Eastabrook

22:25 PM, 14th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jeremy Smith" at "14/02/2014 - 18:21":

Interesting thought. The garden is pretty small though for putting much more in it. I think he'll back off now though as he's already spent quite a lot of money which will, at the very least, be wasted and, at worst, cost him dearly.

by Joe Bloggs

0:54 AM, 16th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Paul Eastabrook" at "14/02/2014 - 17:13":

Surely you can see whether the concrete posts look new or not? the boundary line can be established by reference to the position of the centre of the party wall. good luck as what your neighbour has done is pretty low. however, you should have monitored these works as this happens a lot. boundary changes are something that should be checked for on periodic inspections. only friday i discovered on a periodic inspection the council contractors have dismantled my boiler flue without notice and slightly damaged it (and many others) whilst installing new conduits in a council block. im sure most others will be oblivious. trust no one!

by Paul Eastabrook

1:07 AM, 16th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Joe Bloggs" at "16/02/2014 - 00:54":

I only go into the property and grounds myself usually every couple of years between tenancies as I pay an agent 11% of the rental income to do all the inspections for me. Had the tenants or agent alerted me to the infringement I would have discovered the reality of the situation sooner. I suspect that neither took much notice or interest unfortunately, so there is a lesson to be learned by me as a result. The new posts do indeed look new and judging from what is required to remove them, I suspect that old ones gets damaged routinely upon removal.

by Joe Bloggs

9:55 AM, 16th February 2014, About 8 years ago

unfortunately, there is only one person that can be truly trusted! would you be in this predicament if you self-managed?

by Paul Eastabrook

17:57 PM, 16th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Good point. I had a slightly hysterical email from the neighbour about an hour ago making claims, contra-claims and threats, so will need to tread cautiously. Unfortunately I think I will indeed need to engage with solicitors, surveyors and possibly even geologists. Oh well, no-one ever said being a landlord was an easy option.

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