Neighbour stole our woodland?(983 Posts)
Our DGrandad left me and my sister his woodland when he passed away a few years ago. It isn't anything that special (as in its not protected and hasn't any distinguished species) but does have a TPO on a couple of trees. It is a place that my sister and I visit occasionally and thought that perhaps we could use it as a place to "wild camp" with the kids this summer for a few weekends. Even had insipiration from what George Clark created in a piece of woodland in his series Amazing Spaces and thought maybe one day with enough money we could do the same.
Anyway, we went down there this weekend to have a look to see if we could maybe clear a patch for a good tent destination, Thought it be good to do this now before everything starts flourishing in the spring.
To our shock it's all been fenced off and there has been some very obvious clearing of trees and shrubs! We knocked on the nearest house to ask what's happened to our woodland and the couple that lived there informed us that they have now taken it as their own and have started keeping it in order for past couple months. They said that it now makes our land legally theirs?
Obviously we shall be seeking legal advice but in the meantime, can what they claim actually be correct?
Just seems so unfair? Surely that would mean I could just fence off any land and claim it as my own?
New thread - 1st post answers a few things I hope
Hereward quite possibly but not if the correspondence is marked "Without Prejudice". I'd be surprised if their solicitor has dropped the ball on that one but worth double checking OP.
OP I'm glad you have a new job.
Your solicitor really needs to be taking a hard line. And I'd be inclined to remove the fencing they have left on your land and returning it to them. They are proper CFs!
If they have offered to purchase it, isn't this fatal to the claim of adverse possession? It acknowledges they do not own it.
I would just write back (yourself) to their solicitors and state that the land YOU own is not for sale and that they must remove the fences within the next seven days, failing which you will have them removed and will store them for a fee. Tell them adverse possession is not applicable in this case for the reasons pp have stated (Trust etc).
Say you will firmly challenge any application to the Land Registry. You can ring them yourself and make them aware of the situation. Tell their solicitors that your address for service is........
No need to incur further costs at this stage and you can just get ad hoc legal advice which need not bankrupt you.
I can understand why you do not want the stress op but do move matters on. They will be furious at this response because you have not rolled over.
Fwiw, I think involving other neighbours has limited value because as you have seen, they have disappointed you but that is their decision to make. You are separate and your rights are important here. Good luck.
What disgusting pieces of shit your neighbours are to intimidate and bully your other neighbours like that! Wish you could get the police on to them! Urrgh - cant stand bullies!!
Fab fab news about your job - congratulations!!
Once you've removed the fencing, get in their and spend a week doing some maintenance, coppicing, building wildlife habitats etc. Take lots of photos, post a blog about it online...
That's the kind of evidence you'll need for the future with greedy neighbours like this.
Does the local area have it's own Facebook group?
If so, you could put out an appeal for other locals who you have allowed to use the wood to come forward. They may be willing to give evidence to support you, and it would shame the fuckers who are doing this.
I'm with the pp who would just go and remove the fence. Hire a quad bike and trailer and get all the fencing out of there.
What are they going to do exactly? They do not own the land. They have nothing to prove that the fencing is theirs and has been there a long time. Take some hefty mates, and don't back down - if they see you and call the police simply tell the police it's your land (take copies of the deeds with you). Then put your own fencing up, And install security cameras.
Its not merely woodland if it adds value to their house though is it !
@FellaGoneRogue OP has posted a diagram earlier in the thread.
I’ve been following and then I lost the thread. I’m raging for you OP. A woodland is my dream. To have some nasty bully steal it is unthinkable. Really hope this sorts out. It’s not fair.
Can we have a diagram? I need to picture this woodland in my head
as I'm totally over invested
Your woodland could actually be very desirable
profitable for rental from forest school companies or outdoor ranger type parties.
10/04/2019 22:46 marfisa
I don't see how this could turn into a long expensive battle? Surely no court in the land would give them the time of day.
If only that was the case. Years ago I worked in a solicitor’s office; there was a case where someone had annexed part of their neighbour’s loft space and made it their own. When the neighbour finally found out and went to court to get his own space back, he lost. Unbelievably. Hopefully this won’t happen to the Op- (and tbh the neighbour’s solicitor was a bit shit).
Could you sell the land to your husband or sister for a nominal rate? Would this count to restart the 10 year legal thing?
@ciastexzka’s suggestion is a good one check out google maps could you maybe even contact google or find a way to access old ones
What is your next move twittlebee
Apologies if you have done this, have you rang the land registry for advice? There may be an entry you could put on the register to prevent this, also update your address for service as they will send you notice if adverse possession is applied for. It is my understanding that if you object it will go no further. They have in house lawyers who deal with these cases.
I would be asking friends of friends localish to that area if they know of erm a certain kind of person that would be happy to remove a few panels at the very least.
ive followed this from the start and was all for the legal route but these people aren't going to roll over and say 'ahh you got us, that's fine we will play nice'.
Take the fence down. It's your land so the only way they can prove the fence ever existed or belonged to them is receipts that will show it is new.
Plead ignorance 'what fence?' whilst burning the fecker in the background and toasting marshmallows over it.
Even if they are on OP's land, tearing down the neighbour's fences could constitute criminal damage. Given the neighbours have clearly instructed lawyers, they're probably well aware of this - it doesn't seem like a particularly good idea.
Agree with malpa I'd have flattened the fence on day one.
Which is what my SIL did when a local farmer put a shed on a field she and dh own. She drove the quad bike into it and flattened it. Farmer was trying to do the same and claim the field as his own.
OP doesn't need to prove she's been maintaining the woodland for the last ten years because she owns it. You don't have to maintain your land if you don't want to.
Proof of use/maintenance comes for someone trying to claim possession. And the CFs just saying they've been doing it isn't enough. I doubt even having any friends back them up is enough. They would need photos, they'd need receipts for stuff bought such as fencing and evidence from workmen, delivery men that it was for the woodland and this would need to date back at least ten years. They haven't a hope.
Tear down their fences - have you the muscle/friends to do it ?
Can feel a MN day out building!
Malpa has a point OP. It sounds like the CF'ers are relying on you meekly backing down.
Tear down their fences - have you the muscle/friends to do it ?
Can you not say YOU have been maintaining it for the last 10 years and there was no evidence of them anywhere near it til the fence went up?
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