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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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I have removed an outbuilding which was positioned next to

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I have removed an outbuilding which was positioned next to my neighbours boundary. They are responsible for the boundary fence on that side (which incidentally, has been put up with the wrong side facing me). There is now a small gap (about 2ft) where part of the building was and the fence needs to be continued to fill the gap. I want to know if it's my responsibility or theirs to fill in the gap. Also, since the outbuilding was taken down, it has revealed a really unsightly wall which is one side of the extension my neighbour had built. It needs to be rendered to make good and I need to know if I am responsible for the cost of this also.
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. Would I be correct to assume that you are and your neighbour are not the first owners of your respective proeprties please - i.e. you did not both buy them from new?How old are your properties roughly?Finally am I also correct to assume about you and your neighbour have not entered into any specific covenants directly with each other - this would be very rare?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I am not the first owner (moved in last may). Houses are 1950's ex-council so my neighbour could have lived in the house from new and purchased from the council but I would have to ask her. I think her extension is about 20 years old and is not very well built. We have not entered into any specific covenants.

Many thanks for the above. In terms of fences English law is hopelessly deficient when it comes to responsibility and ownership of boundaries which leaves many property owners in a very frustrating position as is the case here.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, 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 as opposed to "not to do" something) do not bind owners after the original purchasers automatically, and 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 in the absence of the binding covenant in this respect.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 but those circumstances are relatively uncommon.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. In this case in the absence of a binding covenant on the part of your neighbour which I suspect does not exist, your neighbour will be under no obligation to erect a fence to complete the boundary line. Similarly, you are under no obligation to do so either and therefore, frustratingly, it is likely to come down to whoever feels most strongly about leaving the boundary line open. If neither of you are concerned, then there is unlikely to be away to force the other to complete the boundary line that you might find if you wait, she will be motivated to do so herself.There is a convention that you place the good side of the fence towards a neighbour when erecting a fence but it is nothing more than a polite convention and is not legally enforceable.The position with regards ***** ***** rendering or lack thereof is that if the wall forms the boundary line itself between your and her properties, which I do not think is the case from what you say, then you have a right to paint or otherwise render the wall under the provisions of the party Wall act. If however the wall is located within her boundary, i.e. there is a gap between the edge of the wall and her boundary line, then you do not have a right to interfere with the wall without her permission. In addition, the law does not provide a means to force a neighbour to improve unsightly brickwork or other rendering. It will be necessary to demonstrate that the wall is dangerous in some way in order to force her to take action.Accordingly, generally the position is therefore a frustrating one and if the neighbour is not willing to take action by agreement, it is likely will be limited to erecting or planting structures or plants so as to screen off the unsightly structures I fear.I hope the above is of assistance though I am sorry I have not been able to give you anything concrete to take forward with your neighbour. 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
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

My neighbour accepts responsibility for the fence and admits that she had it erected but she is insisting that I fill in the gap opened up by the removal of my outbuilding. She has relied on my outbuilding to fill the gap (even though she could have continued her fence past my outbuilding to her own extension when she had it and the fence erected). The gap is in HER FENCE. It looks like I will have to swallow the expense of rendering HER WALL, but I don't see why I should have to also swallow the expense of extending HER FENCE which she should have, and could have erected it to it's fullest extent in the first place. Does her admission of responsibility of the fence change your reply in any way?

in the same way that you cannot force your neighbour to complete the fence or address her wall subject as above, she cannot insist that you complete the fence and certainly not improve her wall. As above, the frustrating position other than in the case of new build properties between new owners is that neither party can normally force the neighbour to do anything against their wishes and therefore it will typically come down to agreement between the parties or in default of which, whoever feels most strongly about the status quo so as to do something about it themselves. If you calculate that if you do not attend to the fence yourself that she will do so then you may consider waiting her out or even bluffing that you are not concerned in the hope she will take on the work herself. As above, she cannot force you to carry out work on the fence or the wall. In respect of the wall, if you were to carry out work to the wall, he would need her permission but in addition, any work you carry out would benefit her entirely other than of course your view. I would therefore only suggest considering this if you think firstly she will not do so herself and secondly the impact on your view is so significant so as to justify your carrying out the work for her. If there is an alternative way of screening the wall such as the above suggestion of planting shrubs or some other form of screening, this might be a better approach. I hope the above is helpful? Can I help you with anything else or has the above answered your questions satisfactorily? If you could drop me a quick message to let me know I'd be very grateful.
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