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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 25988
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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In October 2011, we were in the process of replacing one of

Resolved Question:

In October 2011, we were in the process of replacing one of our boundary fences. We employed somebody to do this. We had progressed as far as removing the old fence, leaving the fence posts in place and went away for the weekend. There was a narrow strip of “retained land” (shown on the title deed plan) between our fence and the adjacent property and as such, the neighbour also had a fence, leaving the strip between the two. We believe that technically the retained land belongs to the original developer but nobody seems to know. It certainly does not belong either to us or our neighbour.We returned home and found that without permission or prior communication, seeing our fence posts “free” as we had not yet erected our replacement panels, our neighbour had dismantled his fence and moved it to our boundary line, attaching his fence to our posts, taking the retained land strip for himself. He had his fence with the back to us, suggesting to us that he regarded the fence as his. We now have no fence. The neighbour erected a particularly high fence and has even added trellis work and netting above that. His property is several feet lower than ours and he presumably wants extra privacy. The privacy was not an issue for us but we would not have a problem with our neighbour having a high fence. However, we do not know what our responsibilities, nor our neighbour’s, now that he has erected his fence on our line.The fence and posts are now leaning and may soon fall down and we need to know how to deal with our neighbour if and when this happens. Our posts were for a lower fence and not strong enough to support the neighbour’s substantially higher fence. If the fence falls down and our neighbour asks us to replace it, we will have to replace the posts as they are now damaged, the weight of the substantially oversize fence no doubt having shortened their life. Additionally, we would only pay for a standard height fence, something with which our neighbour would probably be unhappy. We have not communicated with this neighbour since the event but forewarned is forearmed and we need to know how should we approach this matter when the occasion arises?
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 1 month 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.

  1. May I ask the height of the fence with the trellis approximately?
  2. Fro what you say the posts he has attached his panels to are on your land?
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Good morning.The height is approximately 103 inches (262cm). Our fence posts are 48 inches (122cm) above ground level. I am attaching a photograph showing our neighbour's fence attached to the wrong side of the fence post. Also a photo showing the length of the offending neighbour's fence, as well as a short length of our fence where it borders the next house along. We have two neighbouring houses along that side of our plot. The shorter length is the height of the original fence that we were replacing. The fence we were replacing was the same height. You can see it is much lower and clearly did not suit the neighbour who substituted his own fence before we were able to complete our work. The section that we were replacing was more exposed to the elements and had worn out faster, hence the need to repair.One must reasonably assume that our fence posts are on our land, especially as there was the retained land strip between the two fences. The neighbour not only moved his fence to our line but took the retained land for himself. Whilst the latter is irritating, I guess it is none of our business?
Expert:  Joshua replied 1 month ago.

thank you for the above. From what you say, there appear to be three potential issues here. Firstly there is the potential question of a boundary dispute which is likely to be the more complex issue of the three; secondly there is the question of trespass and criminal damage potentially to your fence posts and lastly there is a breach of permitted development planning on the part of your neighbour.

With your permission, I would deal with each in turn but in reverse order:

Under permitted development, it is possible to erect a fence up to 2 m in height without obtaining permission from the council. Note that the permitted height is reduced to 1 m if the fence is adjacent to a road. accordingly, you will neighbours actions amount to a breach of permitted development and you can report the matter to the local authority and an enforcement officer can serve an enforcement notice requiring the neighbour to remove the fence or the lower the height of the fence.

next I will agree that the fence posts to which is attached his fence must belong to you given the layout you describe.. If you have not already done so, it is worth you taking pictures to show the two sets of posts or if he has now removed his posts, take evidence of the holes where they used to be. On the basis that you can reasonably evidence that the fence post in question on your land, it follows that they are your property and he is not entitled to interfere with them, attach things to them or damage them in any way. If he does so, this can amount to both criminal damage and an act of trespass. The former can be dealt with by report to the police and the latter can be dealt with by a claim in the County Court.

Finally, there is a question of a potential boundary dispute. Based on what you say above, you interpretation seems perfectly logical but after whether the developer has retained a strip of land in between your respective properties, a search of the land registry index map would confirm. If there is such a strip, then neither of you own the strip of land in the middle and therefore neither of you have a right to place fence post there. that said, in the between gardens, it is unlikely the developer would have any interest in maintaining a claim to the same and if you and your neighbour were able to agree between you, there is probably no practical reason why you could not agree to cite one single fence somewhere in the middle or wherever you both agree so that you both gain a small amount of land. If you cannot agree however, this could amount to a potential boundary dispute which can be relatively costly to resolve not to mention stressful in terms of impact upon neighbourly relations.

In terms of how you may wish to proceed, so as not to escalate the matter to quickly to far, initially, you may wish to attempt to discuss the matter with your neighbour pointing out the various above issues and inviting him to remove the fence panels is attached to your fence posts on the above grounds that he has no right to attach them. If he is unwilling to cooperate, you may have to gently suggest to him that you will therefore be forced to take further action which may involve both the council as regards ***** ***** of planning,, the police as regards ***** ***** damage caused to your fence posts and potentially an application by you to the County Court for both damages and an order that he removes the panels from your posts. You can alternatively exercise what is known as self-help and simply remove the panels yourself without going to court but you would need to be careful not to damage his panels less you open yourself up to a potential claim by him of criminal damage to his fence panels difficult to such a claim might be.

Does the above answer all your questions? If it does, I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click a rating for my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though

Joshua and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Dear *****,Thank you for your email and the answer, which I have read. I have not yet been able to discuss this with my wife who has not yet seen it and hope to do this, this afternoon. I think all is fine but I may have a question before we close off.Lawrence.
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Joshua,I am about to give you the rating etc. but thought I should add something here first. We are pleased with the service and will certainly recommend it to others. One point, relatively minor as it does not detract from the service or the content of your reply, is that you need to read through your text more carefully as there are some simple grammatical errors which could easily have been avoided.