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Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 26070
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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Neighbour fence problem! Dear Solicitor, I have two neighbours'

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Neighbour fence problem!
Dear Solicitor, I have two neighbours' fences bounding my garden. 1. has erected fence with posts stradding the boundary and the 'strut' or 'rough' side toward my garden. They insist on painting/treating it themselves and I have to like it or lump it. Can I insist on the 'smooth' side? Neighbour 2. has erected fence with posts straddling the boundary, 'smooth' side my way but won't let me 'treat' (Ronseal) it. They did not ask permission to 'straddle' the boundary. Getting a bit out of hand and I'm feeling very intimidated as I have two couples not speaking to me.
Many thanks, ***** *****
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. May I ask you on what basis ou believe the fences are straddling the boundary please - To be clear, what evidence do you have for establishing the boundary line you refer to is correct? Were there fences in that position for many years for example which have now been replaced in a different position?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello Joshua, You may have misread my question. I am not asking about ownership/boundary issues. I am asking what rights, if any, I have with regard to new fences erected by neighbours. I have read that if the posts straddle the boundary I have some rights over them.

1. do I have to accept these fence panels facing the 'wrong' way, when courtesy and convention require they are placed toward my property?

2. on what grounds could they make a complaint of 'criminal damage' against me?

3. can you clarify the situation with regard to posts which straddle the boundary?

4. can I not paint/weatherproof 'my' side of the fence?

Many thanks and I look forward to your reply, Louise Fletcher

Hi Louise. Thanks for your reply. I understand the question you are asking. The reason I asked the above question to you is that the exact location of a boundary is often not clear because Land Registry plans do not usually contain measurements and are not drawn to a scale sufficient to identify the exact location of a boundary. Establishing the exact location of the boundary is important because from this flows the answers to all of your various questions which I will be please to assist with once I understand the above.Could I therefore trouble you once again to confirm the basis you believe the fences are straddling the boundary please - specifically what evidence do you have for establishing the boundary line you refer to is correct and the fence posts are encroaching onto your land? Were there fences in that position for many years for example which have now been replaced in a different position with the posts further over onto your land?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Joshua, apologies, I am frazzled with this issue, neighbours not talking to me etc. As far as I am aware, the boundary/ies are correct. The fences in question do appear to align with the boundaries on plan. The gravel board bases appear correct and I am not disputing the position of the fences. I'm trying to establish my rights as I'm feeling intimidated as there are refusals to have the fence panels face the 'right' way and a threat of 'criminal damage'. I ask about the concrete posts, as I have read that if posts 'straddle' the boundary I can, for example, hang trellis from 'my' the structure is on my land.

I do hope that is clearer. As I say, I'm frazzled, and very upset. The District Council are offering no clarification and Citizen's Advice have offered mediation but I just want some clarity. I think I would be able to speak to these neighbours, but I would need some clear facts as to my rights....and theirs. Regards, Louise

thank you. Fences are a difficult issue in English law because there is very little law which deals with fences and certainly no legislation. WIth your permission I will start with answering your specific questions in light of what you say above and then go on to make some further comments generally:there is no law which requires which way around offence must be placed. There is no convention that you face the good side of your fence towards your neighbour but this is nothing more than a courtesy is not in any way legally enforceable. The neighbour can install his fence from a legal perspective in any direction he wishes with the posts on either side as he prefers however, no part of the neighbour's fence may encroach upon your land without your permission which would include the posts. If you can show that the neighbour has encroached onto your land either with any part of his fence or the posts, this would constitute a trespass and you can require the labour to remove the fence or post that encroaches onto your land and claimed damages to your land for any repair required to make good your land.the difficulty however that often arises with such claims in practice is that the neighbour will dispute the location of the boundary claiming that he has not encroached onto your land that that he has erected the fence within the confines of his boundary. This is why I asked you the first question above. If you find your neighbour attempts this argument, what you have by result is an effective boundary dispute which would then need to be first resolved before you can address the issue of forcing the removal of the fence and so on as above. I am happy to explain how a boundary dispute can be resolved legally if this is of interest to you but I will end this aspect here for now as it is a slightly different topic.notwithstanding the above, in order to force your neighbour to remove the fence, where there is no dispute with relation to the boundary line but the neighbour accepts that he has built on your land, you can if necessary make an application to the court using the following form (only suitable if the neighbour accepts he has encroached onto your land): or not the fence is built on your land or not, if the neighbour has paid for the fence panels, the fence itself belongs to your neighbour and as such, you may not paint it or affix things to it or otherwise interfere with it. It is unlikely that by painting the fence or attaching small objects to it, the neighbour would be able to successfully claim criminal damage is criminal damage usually requires destructive force of some kind to be applied, but the neighbour could seek a claim for the cost of removing paint or items affixed to it and repairing or replacing the fence if you were to do so.I have largely covered this in point 1 above, but to repeat what I say above, if any part of the fence including the posts encroaches onto your land, this is a trespass and you can require that the neighbour removes the encroachment and makes good your land as above.Strictly this is an unlawful interference as above. However, in practice, it would be difficult for the neighbour to do very much about your treating the fence because this cannot be couched as damage; Rather, unless the fence colour is substantially changed by the treatment, your treating the fence would constitute an improvement. Just as above, the neighbour would not under the circumstances be able to claim criminal damage and it is difficult to see how he would make a claim against you in the civil courts either because he has suffered no damage but rather his fence has been improved. Whether you would wish to improve his fence by whether treating it however is another matter entirely and one for you. If you consider doing so, it would be sensible to use a clear application rather than one which has a colour so as to minimise the possibility of any above, although I appreciate you do not see the issue in terms of the boundary dispute, in practice if you seek to have the fence moved, situation such as this can develop into boundary disputes for the reasons I set out above. If you can demonstrate that the neighbours have encroached onto your land either by their admitting that they have done so all by establishing the boundary line, then as above, you can require that the fence is removed. However, depending upon the extent of the encroachment, you may or may not decide that this is something you wish to as you if it becomes clear that the neighbours dispute that they have encroached onto your land because boundary disputes will cost money in terms of surveyors fees and land registry fees to resolve which often cannot be reclaimed from neighbours. However, boundary disputes are not normally overly difficult to resolve providing you accept that fees will usually number in the mid-high hundreds or low thousands if neighbours cannot agree. if you would like any further information with regards ***** ***** to resolve the boundary dispute should it develop in the circumstances, please do come back to me. I hope the above is of assistance? If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click to rate my service to you today or just reply back to let me know if the above is helpful. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me I'd be very grateful
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