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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10401
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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Me & my husband bought a property 6 months ago with an acre

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Me & my husband bought a property 6 months ago with an acre of land with the intention of siting two lodges on for our parents. We sought the relevant planning from the local council before we finalised the sale and it was agreed. We found a reputable company to purchase the lodges from. We discussed concerns of delivery of these with them before we bought the house as the house is in a narrow lane and we were concerned about the delivery of them. They confirmed they had specialist computer programme that can measure the roads from Google Earth and they would be no problem to have them delivered, so we placed the order & prepared the land.
Shortly before they were delivered the company in charge of delivering them came to check out the route and said the road was too narrow. They said the farmers hedge would need to be trimmed right back. So after gaining permission from the farmer we arranged a contractor to do this. The delivery company came back to check again and told us that No 5's hedge maybe an issue but it was soft and we will probably be able to pull it through, and No 4's fence maybe a problem. This was a rotten farm fence and would be easily replaced so we asked the owners whether they would mind us removing it on the day if we needed to, we spoke to the husband and he went and checked with his wife and came back with, 'yes no problem, it's rotten anyway. ' as long as you replace it.
So the day of the delivery came, and 2 of the neighbours hedges & no 4s fence was a problem and lodges would not go past.
We knocked on the first neighbours door and they said no problem, it will grow back.
Next was the fence that we had permission to take down. We removed all the potted plants out the way then then unbolted the fence and laid the fence into the garden which I understand damaged some border plants. Also on the property of no4 there was a tree where the branches overhang into the road. These needed to be removed too, but as the were obstructing the highway we understood we could take these branches off without permission.
The next house no5 with the hedge we would be told would be fine actually needed to be chopped back quite significantly. We asked the owners permission & first of all they said no. After another of our neighbours spoke to them they said they would only let us pass with the lodge (which at this point had been blocking this tiny lane for two hours) if we agreed to sign a contract to completely replace the hedge along with replacing another hedge at the side with a fence up the side of the house which we didn't even need to touch. At this point we were really given no choice other than to agree to their demands and sign.
When no4 came home from work they were furious, they said they hadn't given permission for the branches to be cut and were upset that we had pushed the fence in and not removed it damaging the border plants. We apologised and said we would replace everything immediately. We have since spoke to both the neighbours involved, both who are not willing to allow us to do any of the repairs. Instead I understand they are obtaining their own quotes.
The company we purchased the lodges from have agreed to pay up to £2000. But we believe that the plans the neighbours have got will far exceed this.
We now understand that had the company we purchased the lodges from acknowledged there could have been a problem with the delivery earlier then the lodges could have been built in a different way making delivery easier.
My question is really, where do we stand legally. Who is liable and will we have to pay whatever the neighbours demand.

How much would you estimate it will cost to put everything back how it should be?

How many landowners will be joining in with this action?

Have they produced any estimates or quotations for the work?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It is two landowners which are making claims. I believe they are obtaining quotes at the moment as we have seen company's go round, although one in particular isn't communicating with us. As an estimate I wouldn't be surprised if it totals 6-8 thousand because of what they are asking for. To replace just what we have damaged we think it could be done for the 2k the company have put forward

There appears to be little doubt that you or the Lodge companyare responsible for the damage although it appears that this is largely not of your making and the alternative would be for the Lodge company to be in breach of contract.

They have certainly been negligent in their estimate of getting down the lane.

Therefore it comes down purely to the quantum of damages (the value of the claim) and, if the lodge company will not agree to pay, the value that a court would put on it.

I would suggest that you obtain quotations (quotations not estimates) for putting the work right and then, you can agree and get paid, what is agreed making that payment in full and final settlement and if they don’t accept it, and the landowners issue court proceedings, you will have to defend them on the basis that the claims are exaggerated.

I don’t know whether who actually did the work but it may be that the landowners have you and the Lodge company as first and second defendant and the court will decide (if it gets to court) who is actually liable.

The legal situation is that either you or the Lodge company is liable to put the landowners back into the position that they would have been had this damage not occurred and it is purely the value of that which is in dispute.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Please rate the service positive. It’s an important part of the process by which experts get paid. It doesn’t cost you anything but helped me greatly. Best wishes.


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Can you tell me whether the contract we signed on the day is lawful. At the time they had us over a barrel and to be honest we almost felt like we are being blackmailed. It's just in this contract it states we will fix more than we damaged. And I think that is what is going to cost the most money. Basically they needed a hedge replacing with a fence at the side of there property and thought this was a good opportunity to get it done without having to pay. Just wondered if what we signed on the day is lawful? Thanks

I think you could successfully argue that you signed whatever you signed on the day under pressure/duress.

It isn’t actually blackmail in a legal sense, because they are not demanding money with menaces. They are just overcharging. It is potentially fraud of course.

It would be very difficult for them to enforce a contract which actually improved the property although if the fence was falling down, but it had to be removed, you would have no option but to put up a new fence to replace the old one. It appears however that you agreed to that and that would not be unreasonable.

It’s not unreasonable, also, if they want to hedge replacing with the fence, to use the opportunity of you requiring the access to make it a condition that you do that. It is just the cost of the fence which is going to be in dispute.

Ultimately, if neither you nor the Lodge company will agree to pay them what they are asking for, they can either take what is on offer or take you to court and the judge will decide.

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