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LondonlawyerJ
LondonlawyerJ, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 815
Experience:  Experienced solicitor
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Our front garden has become very overgrown and we are having

Resolved Question:

Our front garden has become very overgrown and we are having it all taken out and completely remodelled, new driveway etc. The fence between ourselves and our neighbour is our boundary, and the "good" side of the fence faces them. The fenced was completely covered in ivy, with the major roots on our side. We have removed this as it is a mess and has damaged the fence. There are also some trees on our side that have spread shoots into their side, and these will die when we remove our side. I advised the neighbours of my intentions and that I would be fitting a nice new fence, but would need to clear all the ivy and other rubbish away. They have objected syaing they like the "green" view and want to keep it. To aid the peace process I said I would now put the new fence up inside the old fence, wholly on my side, and they agreed to this. I further said that I would thereafter not be responsible for the old boundary fence. They agreed this verbally. However, having removed all the growth my side, it is clear that the fence is largely rotten and will fall down under the weight of all the (soon to be dead) ivy on their side. They said even if I have removed the old fence and fitted a new one on their boundary, they would then plant ivy on it - I told them that ivy destroys fences, but they aren't interested. As it is my fence, can I just take it down and replace with new, even if that means destroying all the growth on their side. If I agree to leave the old fence and put the new one up on my side, can I transfer liability for the old fence to them? They have been awkward and miserable neighbours since we moved in 13 years ago and we rarely speak.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  LondonlawyerJ replied 3 years ago.

LondonlawyerJ :

Hello I am a lawyer with over 15 years experience and I will help you with this.

LondonlawyerJ :

I take it you are both homeowners. The fence is the one that it is your responsibility to maintain? If you have removed the ivy form you side does this mean that all the ivy will die anyway? Is there other growth rooted on their side of the fence that will be destroyed if you simply replace the existing fence. I don't think that it would be a good idea to put up a second fence (I have seen many bitter disputes over the precise location of boundaries and fences) and by doing this you cold be setting up trouble for the future. Are they likely to take any steps to stop you pulling up the fence and putting in a new one?

Customer:

We are both homeowners and it is my fence and y responsibility. I agree that it is not a good idea to put up a new one inside the current one, as I will be effectively giving them some of my land. There may well be some roots their side, as Ivy spreads like mad. The main roots seem to be my side, and I have cut them and removed all the growth on my side. The weight on their side is now effectively pulling the fence over. I can't remove the fence and leave the growth their side, although some may survive. However, the ivy would eventually re-grow and then start to damage the new fence.

Customer:

I'm not sure what steps they could take to stop me, I could just get the builders to pull it down. The question is what if anything could they do to take legal action if I did this? Either way neighbourly relations won't be improved! These are the same people who complained about BBQ smoke in the garden and later the small radio playing at a garden party we had one sunny afternoon.

Customer:

I'm minded to just take the fence down and clear it all away provided I don't open myself up to legal action.

Customer:

Sorry, I got called away

Customer:

As an added thought, can I prevent a neighbour from growing anything on my fence that may damage it?

Customer:

Sorry again, but I have to collect my child from school. Be back about 4.40

LondonlawyerJ :

OK I will reply later today. I have to fit this work in around other commitments. This isn't really a live instant response service as most of the experts on this are solicitors/barristers who are in practice.

LondonlawyerJ :

OK it seems to me that your instinct to just get on with this is about right. If the main vegetation here is ivy which originates on your side of the fence on your land then it is your plant to do with as you wish (This would be the position with an overhanging tree or bush and I don’t see why ivy should be different). The fence is your responsibility so you have a clear right to work on it.


By replacing the fence and co-incidentally clearing the ivy I don’t think you would open yourself up to any liability at all. Even if there is some claim what would they be they seeking compensation for? Loss of amenity for not being able to look at some weeds? Not much of a claim!


If they do plant new ivy on their side of the fence there won’t be much that you can do. There would theoretically be liability in negligence or nuisance, if by planting the ivy damage is caused to the fence but really is it worth the bother? How many years would it take to cause damage and how much damage would it do? You could write to them telling them that ivy is damaging to fences and threatening legal action seeking compensation if damage results…. Up to you really but I suspect that is not what you want.


In short just put the new fence up in the normal way.


I hope this answers your question but if you have any further questions please ask. Also please take the time to rate my question this will not close the question and I will continue to answer.

Customer:

Thanks for your comments, which I agree with in full.

Customer:

In practice I will just have to tell them what I am doing, and no doubt get into an argument, but we are not all that bothered as they have been miserable neigbours from the start.

Customer:

Thanks for you help.

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