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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
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Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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Ever since our neighbour moved in about 10 years she has on

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Ever since our neighbour moved in about 10 years she has on a regular basis complained about various things to do with the boundary between out properties. She never speaks to us directly but sends letters threatening all kinds of action including contacting the police, suing us and having ASBOS issued? Some of the things have been:
Complaint about the height of hedge - the hedge in question was not on the boundary but was in the middle of our three quarter of an acre garden?
Complaint about the hawthorn hedge which formed part of the boundary which was "tatty" - She asked if she could remove it and replace it with a fence which we agreed to. She subsequently chopped it down and then told us we had to put up the fence as it was out boundary. She also started complaining that all she could see when she looked out her windows were the weed in our garden?
I paid for a fence to be put up and then she complained that the fence was blocking her view and that it was preventing people from buying her house and that she would sue us for her losing her sale.
She had several large trees removed from her garden which were very close to her house and then a few months later said the trees in our garden were causing cracks to her property. I consulted a tree surgeon and he said it was more probably as a result of chopping all the tree down in her own garden which would result in first heave as the water table rose and then subsidence as the dead roots rotted.
Still we had several trees (all of which were dead) removed from the near the boundary.
She's complained about weeds growing in her own garden saying they are coming in from under our fence and that our weeds are trespassing in her garden?
The list goes on and on.
We spoke to citizens advice and they said to not interact with her and to just ignore the threats but keep the correspondence which we have been doing.
Anyway, things have been quiet for a while until just a couple of Months ago when she put her house on the market again. Now we are receiving letters complaining about the one remaining tree on the boundary.
In the first letter she has said it drops leaves and pollen on her garden and deposits "algae" on her house and that it is our responsibility.
In a letter that came today she is saying the tree is stopping her from selling her house again and that the tree and the weeds coming under the fence are ours and they are trespassing?
I could just ignore her again but this constant threatening behaviour is causing me and my wife a lot of stress. My wife in particular is incredibly upset and is often brought to tears thinking about the letters. It's also affecting her enjoyment of our garden because she is uncomfortable going in the garden knowing that this lady next door is there.
I've read about Trees on boundaries and I accept this tree does over hang the boundary but it is only one tree on the entire boundary and it is not "in my opinion" excessive. I believe she has the right to cut back the branches and the root on her side anyway so long as she returns the wood and I think she is aware of this but she says in the letter that we have to pay or she will sue us.
We are really at our wits end as in all these years and in all these threats she has never taken any action. I don't know what we can do? Is there anyway we can say to her "If you are going to take action then take action otherwise stop writing to us as this is harrassment" or something like that??
I'm sorry for the long description but it's been going on for years and is finally taking it's toll.

Do you just literally want to know what you can do to stop this constant barrage of complaints?

Have any of the complaint ever been justified or upheld by anyone?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
we'd like to know what we can do to stop the constant barrage of complaints.
No, None of the complaints have been justified or upheld by anyone.
We just get letters threatening legal action for all manner of things. an example might be. The back fence behind her property was broken when it fell down in the wind. She complained about it being broken so I paid £2500 to have it replaced making sure the fencing men put it at least a foot onto our side of the boundary to avoid any dispute and she then complained we had stolen part of her garden?? (I've got pictures of where the old boundary was and the new fence boundary) She then complained that putting the fence up meant she couldn't sell her house and she was going to sue us for damages? Nothing ever happens other than the threats so I just wanted to know if we could pay a solicitor to write to her and say "Either take the action you are threatening or leave my clients alone" or something along those lines.

There is no doubt about it, the neighbour is harassing you. Not directly necessarily although sometimes directly, but also through a third party.

Because of the number of complaints made to the police, none of which have been upheld, there is no reason why you should not refer the matter to the police to get her warmed under the Protection from Harassment Act. Don’t be fobbed off by the police that this is a civil matter, this is harassment and it is a criminal offence. Sometimes, the police take the line of least resistance by just saying that it’s a civil matter. It is a civil matter but it is also criminal.

She cannot simply complain through a third party constantly or even complain to you constantly. She either has to issue proceedings or shut up and leave you alone.

You are absolutely right that the best course of action initially at least is to get a solicitor to write and say “either take the action you are threatening or leave my clients alone”, but to go on to say that if there are any further incidents or complaints, you will immediately apply to court for an injunction to prevent her harassing you further and not only will you apply for the injunction, you will ask the court to award the court costs and the solicitors costs against her.

The solicitor will know exactly what to do. If it doesn’t stop after the letter is sent, they make the application to court for the injunction.

Can I clarify anything for you?

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We can still exchange emails. Best wishes.


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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No clarification necessary. Thanks for providing a legal view of the situation. I'm going to collect together all the letters and create a chronology of events and then instruct a solicitor.Regards