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.

Thanks

Paul



Comments

by Joe Bloggs

18:37 PM, 16th February 2014, About 8 years ago

david powell chartered land surveyor is an expert in boundary disputes, but not cheap (handling a friends dispute). think geologist may be unnecessary unless oil is involved. its a lot easier being a LL when you dont delegate IMO.

by Paul Eastabrook

19:05 PM, 16th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Thanks for that Joe. The disputing neighbour is an oil man, I suspect, as he's referring to soil samples and the like. Likewise my geologist friend is in the same line. I may call David Powell for a chat and see how the land lies (pardon the pun).

My latest concern is what if the posts weren't moved after all by the new owner, but by someone else at some other time? I will check with tenants etc., but am convinced that SOMEONE has moved the posts and fencing at some stage as the original holes are still on the brick wall, and so is the outline of the original oak post and the cobwebs which were beneath it.

Now, I just don't know for sure WHEN this was done and what, if anything, I am permitted to do about it in terms of restitution.

by Jeremy Smith

19:31 PM, 16th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Paul Eastabrook" at "16/02/2014 - 19:05":

Hi Paul,
If your neighbour is making counter claims, he's either moved the fence because he thought it was in the wrong place where it was, and he should have talked to you about it first, or he is a bully and just trying to scare/threaten you to back down.
Either way, you need to esablish the truth about the original fenceline first, But as you say, it could have been moved to the 'wrong' place along time ago.

You refer to "the new owner", has he just acquired the property next door to you, and bought it with the fence in the new position? in which case that's tricky!!
-If it is a genuine mistake by him, then maybe you need to make him aware of that fact, then get together to discuss the best course of action.
If this is what's happened, he could seek compensation from the previous owner.

Finally, if the original posts were concrete, perhaps the old concrete base will still be in the ground, 'cause they're usually too much trouble to remove, a fork will find them !!

by Paul Eastabrook

23:28 PM, 18th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jeremy Smith" at "16/02/2014 - 19:31":

Hi Jeremy. Apologies for the late response. I'm away currently with only a temperamental mobile broadband dongle for support.

The neighbour acquired his property sometime mid-late 2013. He has certainly changed the fence panels plus one on the other side where he has put in a back gate across my (now "his") land. That latter move, he claims, arose from a misunderstanding between ourselves.

Even if what he says is correct, I still regard the situation as highly unsatisfactory and I have requested the assistance of my tenants in ascertaining what they think has happened, as I don't generally set foot in the property or grounds between tenancies. That probably accounts for the source of my difficulties.

by John Daley

11:07 AM, 19th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Paul Eastabrook" at "14/02/2014 - 16:13":

Hi Paul,

Geologists ? where did that come from ? Google maps ? FFS

If as you say, your title deed plan shows the boundary and the fence lines very clearly you are in a good position. Your neighbour cannot do anything about you restoring the fences to the lines on the deeds. You will have to be very careful with the measurements though.

At present, if he has enclosed any of your property he is a trespasser. He needs to be in possession for 10 years and then has to apply for posession which you can fight. So unless he can produce any kind of evidence clearly showing you have given permission for him to occupy the land he has no defence.

If you restore the fences to the lines on the plans that is ok. If you try to claim the costs through small claims the Judge will look for evidence that you have tried to settle amicably and give the other side an opportunity to move the fence themselves. This is likely to rather compromise your claim.

It's my experience that these small boundary claims are often bitter disputes which enrich the legal profession and generate huge amounts of heat and light but little actual progress.

So I advise you to make a clear copy of the deed plan send it to the neighbour and ask to meet on site. Try to agree the boundary on the ground and whack some wooden pegs in on the agreed line. Take some pictures of the pegs with the surrounding buildings as reference points and try to get the other party in the pictures.

Bring a couple of mates to be witnesses, to knock in your pegs and to ensure fair play. Use the peg line to lay out the new fence lines.

by Dennis Stephenson

14:26 PM, 19th February 2014, About 8 years ago

As the recent television series had highlighted could you call in the Sheriffs to enforce any outstanding amount from the court action? If you are going down that route for the relatively small amount extra it would probably be worth it.

by All BankersAreBarstewards Smith

20:33 PM, 19th February 2014, About 8 years ago

google maps.. ... I googled one of my props recently and the photo I found was valid in August 2013 .... the garden was full of rubbish at that point - but was cleared of rubbish in august ... so i am not at all sure when they are updated....

so take care when using this as "evidence"

by Paul Eastabrook

20:49 PM, 19th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "John Daley" at "19/02/2014 - 11:07":

Thanks John. Very sound advice. I will contact the neighbour when I get back home and ask to bring a representative from the managing agent with me as they will be stronger on the legal position than I am.

Although I like the peg idea, I can't easily put any in the ground along the correct fence line as they would all be the other side of the currently standing fence, which would mean removing the panels all the way along before I even got started. I did intend to put a rope between the start and end points, but even that would require me to lasso the end post from my garden or the communal car park. Instead it would make sense to mark it out from within next door's garden by agreement if possible. It may prove challenging but I'll give it a go. I found out today that he was "rude and demanding" when dealing with my tenants back in November so will need to stay calm and professional at all times and not give any ground (excuse latest pun).

by Paul Eastabrook

21:02 PM, 19th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Paul Eastabrook" at "19/02/2014 - 20:49":

My last posting disappeared when my dongle crashed, but I mentioned that the geologist reference arose from the neighbour's suggestion that I get in a soil specialist to verify that the soil hasn't moved around the concrete posts in the last 6 months (I think he works in oil). Although I've no intention of doing this, bizarrely I do know such an individual should it ever prove necessary in the future.

by ian

21:28 PM, 19th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Paul Eastabrook" at "19/02/2014 - 20:49":

If you need a straight accurate line & if you know of someone who has a lazar level which you can fix or use a tripod at one end which will project a line along the ground as they are accurate to 0.01 of a millimetre then that will eliminate any arguments when the line is agreed. obviously you cannot dig to that accuracy but you get my drift.


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