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Thread: Neighbour's junk threat to my property.

  1. #1
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    Default Neighbour's junk threat to my property.

    OK, I should know the rules, but it is always worth the opinion of someone not involved. Our neighbour is not normally hard to get on with but, particularly his wife, not prepared to be criticised, even if she is wrong. Our boundary is clearly defined - he has slotted concrete fence posts (I helped him to erect them, so I'm not all bad, am I?), but he has allowed, with the aid of piling junk, his fence panels to deteriorate and become broken.
    My sectional garage has its base exactly on the boundary line, and the garage side wall set two inches back from the boundary line. The panels are only reinforced around their edges - each panel's remaining area being non-reinforced and only 20-25 mm thick. A good clout would cave in a panel, repair would not be a DIY job, and would be very expensive.
    One of his fence panels has been thrust between his concrete post and my garage wall, and is actually on my property (the base edge).
    This will prevent air passage and possibly ultimate damp through the garage wall.
    My intention is to approach him with extreme politeness, but explain that I cannot allow the situation to remain. This is where I expect his wife to take a stance against my request for removal of the junk, in so far as it affects my property. This is based on a previous exchange, where a garden article was blown in a gale and destroyed the roof light of our caravan. I had to pay for the repair - no offer even of sharing the cost. In fact, his wife ordered him to go indoors, and up went the proverbial shutters for quite a period.
    Guessing at a possible outcome, I have clandestinely taken adequate photographic shots of the problem.
    Question: (a) do I notify my insurers immediately and regardless of how my approaching him may turn out (b) do I let him know up front that photos have been taken? - it may have an adverse effect. (c) are there any other official sources with whom I should discuss the matter and, if so, discuss immediately or await the neighbour's reaction?
    Regards, Snowball.

  2. #2
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    Disputes between neighbours are notoriously problematic - they have been known to result in murder.

    Your approach is obviously the correct one (I assume that there is no doubt about the ownership of the fence) and I really hope that you will reach a resolution. In the absence of some covenant, there is no legal requirement for him to actually have a fence. http://www.boundary-problems.co.uk/b...ms/fences.html so he could simply remove the broken panel. I think that if the broken part is on your property, you could just carefully move it on to his. Maybe you could offer to help him sort it out?

    Your garage wall is effectively a fence, and if you want to ensure the boundary, you could just string a wire on your side.

    Of course, if his action or inaction causes damage to your property, he is liable. But getting compensation would be pretty tricky.

    Under no circumstances would I involve an insurance company at this stage. All they would do is to increase your premium on the grounds that you are an increased risk.

    One place to go for an independent arbiter is your local councillor. They should be able to have a word.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for your advice, Santa. Didn't think of local councillor - that's a good idea for getting someone who could arbitrate from a position of neutrality, but with some degree of official recognition.
    I am not able to get to the area concerned unless allowed into his solid-gated drive. I only spotted the problem because I had cause to climb up and check one of my roofing bolts. I was then looking down into his driveway at the side of his house. By climbing up to both front and rear of my garage, and without trespassing, by reaching sideways with my camera I was able to take the photos. Obviously, this was done when nobody was at home, for reasons of not provoking trouble until I am in a position make my point.

    I have thought about the fact that he does not have to replace his broken fence panels, but the fact that my garage is two inches INSIDE my own property (and thereby two inches away from his concrete fence posts), I still feel that I have the legal right to claim that he cannot place items against my wall, or drop them against the wall. He has actually pushed one fence panel between my garage wall and his fence post, and this now rests on my garage base.
    My own view is that, although he does not have to replace his fence panels, he is still obligated to operate on the basis of keeping his activities on his own side of the boundary line. Fortunately, something like 28 years ago, the previous neighbour and myself worked closely together to ensure that the boundary line on that side was, and still is, clearly defined.

    I am going to take up your suggestion to speak to my local councillor and ask for his advice on best method of proceeding BEFORE I speak to my neighbour. I will come back on the thread when I have further news.

  4. #4
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    Hopefully you are being over concerned. There is always the chance that he will apologise and shift his stuff

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Santa View Post
    Hopefully you are being over concerned. There is always the chance that he will apologise and shift his stuff
    Unless the "junk" contains domestic refuse which MAY be a breeding ground for vermin, then it is unlikely that you have any rights to be able to dictate to him what he keeps on his property.

    He probably regards the items not as "junk" but as precious items.

    My advice is just to ask him what can be done to prevent the fence panel leaning against the garage wall.

    Could the boundary fence be considered as a "party Wall" in which case have a look at "the Party Walls Act" for ideas.

    Whatever you do, I suggest that you should refrain from referring his beloved items as "junK" that will only antagonise him, I guess.
    Last edited by Dennis W; 06-08-14 at 16:16.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis W View Post
    Unless the "junk" contains domestic refuse which MAY be a breeding ground for vermin, then it is unlikely that you have any rights to be able to dictate to him what he keeps on his property.

    He probably regards the items not as "junk" but as precious items.

    My advice is just to ask him what can be done to prevent the fence panel leaning against the garage wall.

    Could the boundary fence be considered as a "party Wall" in which case have a look at "the Party Walls Act" for ideas.

    Whatever you do, I suggest that you should refrain from referring his beloved items as "junK" that will only antagonise him, I guess.
    Dennis, I have photos of the stuff piled against my garage and, believe me, it is no exaggeration when I say "JUNK" - e.g., broken bike, discarded steel from repairing his drive gates before eventually fitting new ones, along with other odds and ends.
    Incidentally, I am not dictating rights about what he keeps on his property. But we all have a legal duty of care in how we treat the property of our neighbours, and there are no exemptions.
    The (now severely dilapidated) fence is not a party wall - it belongs to him. And the concrete slotted posts, erected (correctly positioned) by himself clearly define the boundary - and which has been clearly defined for 28 years, before he and his family even came on the scene.
    We hear about disputes over uncertain boundary lines, but this is not so in my case. Because we had dogs I decided to erect a substantial fence (the existing pailing fence was my then neighbour's), and this work was done with close cooperation between that then neighbour and myself, using actual deeds and existing fencing stakes to erect my new fence so that its outside face was precisely abutting the boundary line. It is constructed on concrete stub posts, themselves concreted in place, so nothing has moved out of place since that time.
    What you have to understand, is that he cannot simply commandeer use of the space BEYOND his concrete posts (space which is actually ON the edge of my garage base), and use it for his own purposes. The old fence panel, pushed between his posts and my garage wall is actually on my property and, being trapped there, will eventually result in damp conditions that will permeate through the wall, as there is no air space at that point to promote drying out after rain.
    Whether he eventually replaces the fence panels, or not, is immaterial - my rights to the safe preservation of my garage still apply as if the fence were still there, because anything leaning against my garage wall would automatically be encroaching on my property.

    My garage is of sectional cast concrete panel construction. Each panel is only reinforced around its periphery, and the bulk of the panel is not reinforced and is only 20-25 mm thick. A good blow would cave a panel in. Which could also, if my car was in the garage at the time, result in damage to the car.
    I know from experience that, in the event of my garage suffering person-generated damaged from his side (damage impossible to occur by any other means than persons on his property), there would be great resistance, mainly promoted by his wife, to disclaim any responsibility for such damage.

  7. #7
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    Quote from Santa: "Hopefully you are being over concerned. There is always the chance that he will apologise and shift his stuff."

    Santa, if only that were the case. From my reply to Dennis, you have probably got the gist of what is most likely to happen. Some years ago, a piece of garden toy slide (plastic) was blown by a gale from this neighbours garden, and ended up in our garden, breaking a roof light of our caravan in the process.
    In the course of finding the owner, our neighbours wife said, "Oh, I'm glad you found it - we though our granddad had mistakenly taken it to the tip".
    All I did then, in front of the man and his wife, was to suggest that it would be a good idea to make sure that loose items were stowed safely in windy weather. Without asking for any contribution to the damage, I simply said that it was fortunate the main Heiki roof light wasn't hit, because these can cost as much as 500 to replace. At this she went apoplectic, pointed to their front door, and yelled at her husband, "You. Inside". At which they both went indoors, and the social shutters came down for ages. They obviously told their neighbours on far side to us, and with whom they are close friends, because this neighbour (with whom we have had little or nothing to do with) started to glare at us when we passed in the road, and was heard to make occasional badmouthing comments about us.

    So, when I approach our neighbour, it will be in the most calm manner, pointing out that I must look after the interests of my property, and ask very politely if he could help to restore things to a satisfactory situation. On his own, I think there would be a chance - it's if his wife gets involved where things might become critical. Getting him alone isn't easy - if ever we do have a chat (rare), she immediately comes on the scene.
    At that point it will be a matter of playing it by ear but, despite how she might rile me, quiet and calm suggestion that we simply deal with it as fair-minded neighbours must be my response - if I can get that far without her rage boiling over.
    Using good diplomacy, the hardest of men can be wooed into cooperation - a fiercely selfish woman can be an entirely different ball game!!!
    In the event of a failure, I will take your advice and speak to our local councillor - he may be able to point me in the best direction for getting help to sort the matter out. I think my photos, of which my neighbour is not aware, would prove to the councillor that remedial steps were necessary.

  8. #8
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    Managed to have a word at last. Wife came out during conversation, but it seems she was short of time to get to a hairdressers just up the road, so our chat didn't raise any interest. Things look to improve, and the dog didn't come out and set about me either. Can keep the Mon Repose plaque on the drive gate, too - ha.ha!

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