Land grab at tenanted property by new neighbour

by Paul Eastabrook

12:58 PM, 14th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Land grab at tenanted property by new neighbour

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Land grab at tenanted property by new neighbour

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


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Comments

Joe Bloggs

22:58 PM, 19th February 2014
About 7 years ago

external photographs eg inventory photographs will be useful in demonstrating the former boundary position.

John Frith

0:09 AM, 20th February 2014
About 7 years ago

As I mentioned previously, don't the deeds reflect the natural line from the point on the outside wall where the two properties meet, to the apex of the garden (which I think you said was triangular). If that is so, the line is a matter of common sense to a reasonable person. Better this, than trying to involve stakes which can be moved.

Joe Bloggs

10:08 AM, 20th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "John Frith" at "20/02/2014 - 00:09":

agreed. as i said its from the centre of the party wall. dont forget that the fence should be wholly on the land of whichever party is responsible for it.

Paul Eastabrook

16:51 PM, 21st February 2014
About 7 years ago

Thanks to you all and apologies once again for the delay. I'm home again now with a fully functioning broadband. The Land Registry plan is indeed very clear so I'm not anticipating any serious opposition in principle. I think though, for the sake of preventing relations from souring still further I will need to demonstrate to the neighbour in very clear terms where the line lies, possibly using a piece of string, whilst accepting Joe's point about posts and panels sitting inside my own side. I'll run it by the managing agent over the weekend if possible and try and fix up a meet on site with both sides.

Jeremy Smith

13:32 PM, 22nd February 2014
About 7 years ago

Hi Paul,
If the fence panels are now on your side, you can remove them to establish the line, without going onto his side.
Bear in mind though, like where I live, the fences have been there for years, and repeatedly replaced, causing the fencelines/posts to move gradually, we have several that curve from one end to the other, but have been like that for so long there is no way you could 'claim back' the land that has gradually been given to the neighbour !!

Good luck, I think reasonableness and 'standing your ground' is the key, defuse any arguments that you can see coming, so as to keep talking to him, the last thing you want is permanent loggerheads with a neighbour (and a legal dispute ) !!

PS: 🙂 🙂 We're all on your side of the fence 🙂 🙂

Renovate To let

13:46 PM, 22nd February 2014
About 7 years ago

Perhaps you should offer him a price to buy the new access/land from you, including paying your legals and LR fees etc?

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