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Can we do anything to make our neighbours fix their fence?

(50 Posts)
moosemama Wed 04-Apr-12 16:23:19

Having spent around £4,000 having the fence to the right of us and across the end of he garden refenced we are having problems with our neighbours on the other side not maintaining their fence.

The fence is the responsibility of their propery and was there before they moved it, its 6ft panel fencing, but very badly put together and basically falling to bits. One panel in particular keeps falling into our garden (snapping my blooming washing line every single time angry) every time there is anything stronger than a mild gust of wind. Dh has tried to fix it himself on several occasions, but there's basically nothing to attach it to, as the whole fenceline is falling apart. We have forked out for planks of wood and concrete post set a few times and managed to keep it together for a little while, but as soon as we get some strong winds, over it goes again.

We have two dogs and if we don't see that the panel is down before we let them out - or it comes down when they are in the garden, they can get out onto our road - which is a busy main road. Our lurcher doesn't tend to leave the neighbours garden, but our old lady dog just bolts. This has happened several times now and on two of those occasions we were lucky that someone found her and took her in, after passing her details to the dog-warden, so we got her back.

I have literally just had the latest incident about an hour ago when the blooming panel blew down just as the dogs headed out into the garden. I saw my old girl shoot through the panel, and ran outside, realised their side gate was also open and ran out the front just in time to see her heading at speed for the traffic, fortunately a bus shot past and she turned and ran towards the park instead. She is getting pretty deaf and didn't even seem to realise I was behind calling her (she used to have a bombproof recall but her hearing is affecting this these days). Cue me running around in my joggers, tshirt and .... ahem .... crocs in the park in the wind and sleet, leaving my three dcs at home alone. I caught her and brought her home, but am still shaking - not to mention furious. angry

Dh has spoken to our neighbour (who ironically is a builder) about it on several occasions and he's always all nice and smiley about it - 'yeah fine, ok I'll get it fixed' kind of thing, but this has been going on for a couple of years now and after this afternoon's experience I've had enough. I have asked dh to go round and have it out with him - but, well dh isn't good with confrontation at the best of time. An additional problem is that they never answer their front door, even if you can see them in the front room, they just ignore it.

I have just typed of a quick letter to him, sharp but not rude or insulting, pointing out that he owns the fenceline, what the problem is and that I want him to fix it asap. Is there anything I could can do to 'force/make' him fix the fence or is it a case of it being his property - so up to him whether or not he wants to maintain it?

MirandaGoshawk Wed 04-Apr-12 16:28:49

It doesn't sound as if they are very keen to act, & you won't get anywhere by demanding. I would ask nicely, once again (wait until you see him outside, & pounce!) and gently explain once more about why it needs doiung right away.
IF when this doesn't work what you can do is put up your own fence, along the length of his, but a couple of inches inside the boundary on your side.

We had something similar with neighbour, went on for a year or so but (after some nagging) now it's fixed!

hathorinareddress Wed 04-Apr-12 16:34:46

It's their fence.

On their land.

It's not on your land and it's not a boundary.

If you want a fence to keep your dogs in, you'll have to put one up on your side of the boundary.

moosemama Wed 04-Apr-12 16:38:20

We've already asked nicely and appealed to his good nature hmm countless times and still nothing. We always have to wait until he's on the drive and pounce on him, but he's a fast mover grin and we can't actually see his front door or the part of the drive where his van is parked from our window. We don't see much of him at all these days.

Its been going on for a couple of years now and the only reason there have only been a few incidents of the dogs getting loose is a combination of us fixing the fence ourselves and being hypervigilant when letting the dogs out.

The letter wasn't demanding, I asked him to please fix his fence before one of my dogs ends up dead on the road.

We don't have the money to put up a fence just inside his ourselves, especially as its not long since we forked out £4000 to get the other two sides of our fencing done. It's a very long fence and was badly put up in the first place, which is the fundamental problem, the whole fenceline needs replacing - but being a builder, he is far better placed than we are to come up with a cheaper solution. I don't care about it being pretty - I just want it to be secure. Dh has done his best with it - but he's not brillant and DIY and there's nothing to work with really anyway.

hathorinareddress Wed 04-Apr-12 16:39:58

I just don't get how your dogs getting out onto the road are his problem?

moosemama Wed 04-Apr-12 16:41:10

Sorry, forgot to say thanks for the replies.

Hathor - that's what I thought might be the case. In which case we're stuffed because we just don't have the money to do it ourselves. So frustrating when 2/3rds of the garden is really well fenced and totally dog-proof.

Perhaps I should send them a bill for the washing line every time 'their' fence panel snaps it! grin

ragged Wed 04-Apr-12 16:42:32

I bet he doesn't have the money either.
I wonder if you could get some rolls of chicken wire cheap, if that would sort things out temporarily. Or plant a hedge?

It's only one fence panel, right? How expensive would one panel be, or do the posts need replacing too? Still impressed you spent £4k, how many metres of fencing did you get for that, and what kind of fencing?

moosemama Wed 04-Apr-12 16:45:37

I didn't say the dogs getting out was his problem - I said the fence is his responsibility.

I recognise the dogs are our responsibility, which is why we paid a fortune to fence the rest of our garden. Unfortunately, almost as soon as we'd had that done this fence started to collapse and we don't have the money to replace it ourselves - if we did, I would do it in a heartbeat.

I am not in the mood for a fight - having just seen my dog almost hit by a car, I am shaken up and I came on here to ask a simple question, because I didn't know whether or not we had any recall in law to ask him to fix his fence. I thought the answer would be no, but I thought it was worth asking.

pippop1 Wed 04-Apr-12 16:46:05

We had a fence that was ours and our neighbours wanted us to put a new one up. True it looked pretty ropey. No one had any animals.

We weren't ready to do it but said that we would do it next summer (nearly a year away) or now if they went halves with us (yes, we knew it was solely our responsibility but wanted to know how desperate they were).

They declined the "half" offer and we put a new fence up the following year. Not everyone has tons of money to spare and it cost nearly £2000 to get it done. For that year we expected, and received, no complaints.

pictish Wed 04-Apr-12 16:46:31

I can understand your frustration OP, but your dogs' safety is not your neighbour's responsibility. It would be nice if he took action out of goodwill, but he certainly isn't obliged to. Sorry.

hathorinareddress Wed 04-Apr-12 16:47:35

But the fence is on his land and it's not a boundary.

It's akin to saying "my neighbour has a broken flagstone on his patio can I make him fix it"

You can make a fuss about the fence panel blowing down, but all he would have to do it take it down altogether.

ragged Wed 04-Apr-12 16:49:33

I think I'm belatedly appreciating how good DH is at some forms of DIY (fences esp.).

moosemama Wed 04-Apr-12 16:50:56

No, its not only one panel. Its one panel that falls completely into the garden and pulls the two adjacent ones with it so they're hanging off as well. In addition there are huge holes appearing along the fenceline which is 18 panels long. We have re-set the posts and reinforced the cross bars (or whatever they're called) and tried various types of wire etc, but every time the panel comes down it takes the wire out as well.

I'm thinking that, as we now know we have no legal right to get him to fix it, we might be have to place a few cheap panels alongside the middle section of panels on our side, sort of back to back and hope the rest of it hangs together long enough for us to save up and do the rest of the fenceline.

hathorinareddress Wed 04-Apr-12 16:51:32

Be careful if it's his fence on his land.

MrsCampbellBlack Wed 04-Apr-12 16:53:54

I bet its purely down to money.

We need to sort out some fencing with our neighbours and we've agreed to pay half but its still going to be in the thousands and not everyone has that sort of money just laying around.

Our neighbours also very insistent because they have a dog and although we've agreed to do it I am a bit hmm because its a big chunk of money and we have other priorities really.

ragged Wed 04-Apr-12 16:57:09

15 m of dog mesh fencing for £45, any good? Might be worth it for peace of mind as a stop gap. Don't see why you couldn't just lean some old fence panels on instead, though.

hathorinareddress Wed 04-Apr-12 17:00:04

Well if its his fence on his land then technically it's trespass.

ragged Wed 04-Apr-12 17:01:17

to lean panels on his fence, hathor, is that what you mean is trespass?

moosemama Wed 04-Apr-12 17:02:13

Hathor, you can't compare a flagstone to a fencepanel. A flagstone on his patio is irrelevant to us - the fence, clearly is not. Quite apart from anything else its big and heavy and could do someone a serious damage if they were nearby when it came down.

I have no clue about the legalities of these things - I was wondering if there was some sort of law that required people to maintain their boundaries or something, apparently not and I get why that would be difficult to impose and impossible to police etc. Now I know that we will have to come up with another solution.

It isn't going to cost him thousands to fix - he's a builder that does fencing as part of his work. It would cost him the price of the panels, a few nails and some post fix. I haven't asked him to fix the whole fenceline, just the middle panels that are causing the current problem.

If he had said, I'll get it done - but it won't be till X, or I can't afford it, can we go halves I would be a bit happier, but he didn't, he just keeps saying yes no problem and then not doing it. Dh has offered to help him do it (which is laughable really knowing dh's DIY skills, but it was still a genuine offer).

Ragged, the £4k was for the equivalent length of 20 panels of good quality closeboard (sorry don't know the length in metres) along the other side of the garden plus 7-8 panels ish across the end. When we got that done we had the money and wanted to do a proper job that wouldn't need doing again for a very long time.

hathorinareddress Wed 04-Apr-12 17:03:02

Yeah well if it's on his land then technically yes and also it's trespass if you stand on his land to attach them.

Think about it - it's on his land, in his garden. How would you feel if I landed in your garden and dug a pond or built a patio? Same thing.

Not fully up on it but I know my parents had similar bother with dogs and an old fence and the neighbour wouldn't repair it and they ended up having to just put in a fence on their side of the boundary.

hathorinareddress Wed 04-Apr-12 17:04:11

But it's HIS fence on his land - yes it could be dangerous, certainly you could sue in negligence if it damages your property/hits someone - but make a fuss about it now and all he would have to do is take the fence away.

mercibucket Wed 04-Apr-12 17:06:48

Ask if you can attach some panels onto his posts from your side or even ask if you could go halfs on getting the 3 broken panels fixed (the rest are still up?) And just fix some of the gaps in the other ones with the bits of old fence panel or chickenwire

mercibucket Wed 04-Apr-12 17:06:49

Ask if you can attach some panels onto his posts from your side or even ask if you could go halfs on getting the 3 broken panels fixed (the rest are still up?) And just fix some of the gaps in the other ones with the bits of old fence panel or chickenwire

SuePurblybiltFromChocolate Wed 04-Apr-12 17:07:33

I don't get why the DH, who is bad at confrontation, is the only option. Why can't you go round and speak to the builder man? I'm just thinking, if the DH has been the one talking to him and nothing has been done, why don't you try OP? Sounds like you may be more clear and direct grin.

Is it possible that your DH has been asking and then doing that 'oh, you know, when you get to it, it's no bother, just when you have a minute' thing so the neighbour just instantly forgets he ever asked?

TheFallenMadonna Wed 04-Apr-12 17:08:36

We replaced our fence panels when it looked like they were going to fall on our neighbour's cars blush

However, we also replaced their fence to keep our chickens in.

Both were the right thing to do I think.

I don't want my property damaging that of a neighbour. But my neighbour isn't responsible for the safety of my animals....

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