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Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
Are you able to kindly clarify your query please? Are you seeking to know how to require that the fence is maintained or replaced or something else?
Maintained and replaced
Thank you. Would I be correct to assume that your next door neighbour is not the original owner of his house (like you are)?
Yes That is correct
Yes that is correct
Yes that is correct 2nd owner from new
Hi Joshua sorry to set you such a complex question and I guess you need time. Roy
Sorry for the delay in reverting to you. In terms of the fence 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 (i.e. where both you and your neighbour are not the original owners of your respective 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.
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 or he purchased the property for this to be relevant which very rarely happens) it is simply question of either doing nothing no 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.
Is there anything above I can clarify for you any further?