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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 26069
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I rent out a terraced house with a long back garden. The right

Resolved Question:

I rent out a terraced house with a long back garden. The right fence looking from the house
needs panels replaced. There is no mention in the information pack from when it was bought
as to who is responsible, but the custom locally is that one is responsible for the fence on the left, so next door would be so for this fence, on her left, my right. Last year the owner agreed to replace the one panel which then needed done, and my tenant agreed to pick it up and fit it for her. She did not do it. I do not think she is badly off but was heard to say - boast? - that she had no intention of maintaining the fence. I let the property for as little as I can get by on - it's my pension. How should I proceed? Will I have to do it myself as she seems to havelittle sense of any moral or legal obligation, i.e., do I have "a leg to stand on"?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Thank you for your concise post. May I clarify one sentence: "She did not do it"

Who is "she" in this sentence? Do you refer to your tenant or the next door neighbour please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

"She" is the owner of the house next door who I believe should repair the fence.

Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.

Thanks. In terms of fences English law is hopelessly deficient when it comes to responsibility and ownership of boundaries. There is no statutory law and the only way in which obligations are enforced are by way of covenants which easily lapse.

The normal position with most second-hand properties, as opposed to new build properties is that unless either party can prove who erected a wall or fence, neither party can lay claim to it as their own property unless it is clear that it is built on their land - sometimes this is clear but often it is not. Even if one person can clearly establish who owns a fence or this is not in dispute, unless a binding covenant can be shown to exist which is rare in second-hand properties because positive covenants ("to do" something such as maintain a fence) do not bind purchasers after the original purchasers automatically, neither party can enforce the other to maintain a boundary structure or make a claim against the other for damage or removal of the same. The exception to this is if the neighbour accepts the fence is theirs and you can show that the structure is dangerous (as opposed unsightly or not fit for purpose). In those circumstances there is both a common law and statutory basis under which to potentially force the neighbour to rectify the danger but those circumstances are relatively uncommon. It is therefore frustratingly, normally a question of reaching agreement with your neighbours on an informal basis or a case of whoever "blinks first" in terms of repairing or maintaining a boundary if one cannot show who erected a particular fence or structure.

Ideally you will be able to reach an agreement with your neighbours as generally it would be in both parties interests to maintain some form of boundary structure however there is no requirement for this. If you are unable to reach agreement, in the absence of a binding covenant (it would have been necessary for you to enter into covenants with your neighbours when you purchased the property for this to be relevant which very rarely happens) it is simply question of either doing nothing to the fence between your respective gardens or the person who feels most strongly paying to put up a new fence or repairing the existing one. It very much depends upon the individuals concerned as to how much friction there may or may not be.

As and when you come to sell, you will be asked which boundaries you have in practice maintained - it is simply a question of answering this question according to your customary practices. You may wish to refer to the property information form which your sellers would have completed when they sold the property to you in order to see what they ticked in terms of historic practices though these do not bind a neighbour. Your solicitor will have a copy of this if you do not - it is the first question asked on the form.

If you have evidence that a previous owner of your property erected a fence, or in default of any evidence your neighbours accept this, this makes the fence your property. This does not confer any obligation to maintain it on your part but it would mean the neighbour could not interfere with the fence without your consent. The same would go for any other fences - however often evidence as to who erected a fence will have been lost over the years. In newer properties the term" party structure" is now commonly used which simplifies the position slightly but with older properties boundaries are a frustrating business though in most cases reasonable neighbours will come to an agreement between themselves on the issue.

I hope the above is of assistance though I am sorry it is not likely what you wanted to hear nor gives you a decisive weapon with which to attack your neighbour? If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click to rate my service to you today or just reply back to let me know if the above is helpful. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me I'd be very grateful


Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
I hope the above is helpful and yu have been able to access the reply ok? Can I help you with anything else or has the above answered your questions satisfactorily? If you could drop me a quick message to let me know I'd be very grateful.
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