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Neighbour cut a piece off our shed roof to push fence towards us

(25 Posts)
Pangurban1 Tue 30-Aug-16 00:30:31

I've posted before about our rear neighbour who pulled our fence and trellising and disposed of it when we were away. They installed a new higher fence concreted further in onto our raised terrace.

I am going to a solicitor now about it, but was out today and realised how they had moved it further in on side particularly and the how the angle was changed.

We have a shed with overhanging roof which was put there about 20 years ago by a previous owner. The apex is higher than the fence. Our wooden shed roof behind the fence has been cut away to allow them to push it in further. They have cut the part the wooden shed roof that would have been behind the fence in this location and would have prevented them pushing it in further towards us.

To do this they unpicked the felt cover on our wooden shed roof and you can see where the wood has been cut above the fence height. Other parts of the corner have also been sawn off as their original location would have been further out than the new location of the new fence they put up. Our shed roof fitted fine for the last 20 years with the old fence.

Should I wait until I talk to the solicitor about this? By pushing the fence in they have also crushed electrical cable which enters our shed at that corner. They were only able to go that far in because they removed part of our shed roof.

I would probably like to contact the police at this stage about the damage as I'm blood fed up. Even if going civil route too. I was just wondering what others would do about this. There is not point approaching them. They are utterly vile.

BlitheringIdiot Tue 30-Aug-16 00:44:34

Unbelievable! Is this not criminal damage? I'd be seething: you say they're vile: have there been dealings with them previously concerning your property boundaries?

Pangurban1 Tue 30-Aug-16 01:33:16

Well, I had a thread on here. Not to bore you, they removed our fence while we were away on holiday without any prior interaction. The fence is on our deeds as our house was built years earlier than theirs. All the houses I've called to on our road still have the back fence as our road was developed years before the one behind. There was no reason whatsoever for them to think it was their fence. This was done out of the blue. I know they are vile by their reaction to asking for our stuff back. I definitely know they are vile now as they took a saw to my shed. It cannot be construed as a mistake.

They lifted our old fence and they had access to our back garden. They removed some soil to concrete a type of gravel board to the back of our raised terrace and put some high panels inwards at a different angle by sawing part of the roof of the shed as it would have prevented the fence they put there being moved in along that corner.

I didn't realise how they went in so far that side until today I realised the felt was floppy that side of the roof. It is at the back of the shed, so not easy to notice. I have a photo of that side of the roof taken a few years ago and it is perfectly straight with felt nailed covering the edge. Now, it has been cut just below the apex on one side and the bottom is visibly missing.

I have contacted a solicitor and will be going back next week. We really got the short straw with these horrible neighbours. I was just wondering what other people would do in this situation.

FluffyFluffster Tue 30-Aug-16 01:40:46

I suggest getting in a land surveyor to check the boundary definition. If the original fence was on the boundary, then it doesn't really belong to either of you but I'm not in the UK so while our legislation is based on yours, I'm not 100% sure what your fencing law and title system is.

Pangurban1 Tue 30-Aug-16 01:50:16

I presume the boundary was the invisible line the other side of where our fence was. The houses weren't built at the same time and a fence put in dividing them. Our house had it's fences installed years before the other house was built, so not on their plot.

We know for certain our side fence is completely on our land as we had a surveyor look at that wrt a party wall issue. The fences were not erected as joint fences. We have sole responsibility for 3 fences.

wowfudge Tue 30-Aug-16 08:05:18

Go to the police - two acts of criminal damage now. What will they do next? I'd be very worried. Who are these people? Plant some pyracantha behind your fence.

The police may say it's a civil matter, but it isn't.

blueskyinmarch Tue 30-Aug-16 08:09:02

God that is awful. Nothing to stop you speaking to the police to get advice.

ChunkyHare Tue 30-Aug-16 09:18:03

Is this going to be your forever home? Just be aware that any "dispute" between you and them has to be declared to any future buyer of your house. So anything in writing, or with the police has to be declared.

I am not saying that what they did is acceptable, it is just that this will turn into a pissing contest. You cannot reason with people like this.

Have a look on Garden Law forum to see how these sorts of disputes can go on for years.

It also might be worth posting on there too. Just remember your solicitor doesn't have to live near these people, you do.

TikTakTok Tue 30-Aug-16 09:26:07

I second the garden law forum. Your neighbours sound awful. Have you got legal cover? If you have evidence of the damage to the shed might it be easier to bill them for it and if (when) they don't pay take them to the small claims court.

I know I'd want the fence replacing in the correct place but I know that might not be the sensible thing to do. Very often on garden law they point out how fruitless legal battles can be. Wars with Nieghbours are horrible.

Do you have enough cash to replace the fence easily?

sentia Tue 30-Aug-16 09:28:44

You need to at least prepare yourself with evidence, even if you don't call 101 to understand if what they've done to the shed constitutes criminal damage.

Lots of photos, keep a journal of what has happened including all interactions with them, get a land surveyor to accurately plot the boundary line etc. Was the original thread in Chat? If so, get it moved in case you need it as well.

The solicitor can then advise you on all of the issues including whether it helps or not to have both criminal damage / theft charges as well as a boundary dispute running in parallel.

Coconutty Tue 30-Aug-16 09:29:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

wowfudge Tue 30-Aug-16 10:16:42

These people are bullies and their behaviour is totally unacceptable. I'd tell the police who should go and have a word and find out just where they are coming from. Get your solicitor to write a letter asking that they reinstate your property - fence and shed roof - by x date or you'll do it and bill them. Install CCTV so you can catch them in the act if they do anything else. Regardless of having to declare any dispute should you want to move, they need stopping and quickly. I remember your last thread: what action did you take then though?

MiniCooperLover Tue 30-Aug-16 10:32:40

Did you ever get to the bottom of why they originally took your fence down? Did they replace the new in that same place or take any garden? But this is different, this is criminal damage I think.

confuugled1 Tue 30-Aug-16 11:04:56

I'd be out there taking lots of photos - and of every other aspect of the back of the garden that they might damage in the future so you have evidence from now.

If you're on good terms with your neighbours to each side I'd speak to them and see if they will let you take pictures looking into your garden from their garden - you might find that you can see a step change in the fence or aN obviously recently cut edge or the fence at an angle etc that wasn't so clear from your side.

I'd also take film clips of everything you take photos of with a commentary, saying the date and explaining the issues that can be seen. Even if they don't get used they are there if you need them and some people can relate to a video better than still photos. Pointing out the problems in a voice over means that whenever people watch the video they will hear and see the issues together, even if you are not around to do explain everything.

Id also be holding my cameraholdinghe fence and taking photos and film as much as I could of their side too.

Pangurban1 Wed 31-Aug-16 07:58:26

Thanks for your replies. I was away for the summer, so haven't really dealt with it. Originally the police said it was civil wrt the fence and my trellising. This was before I had seen that that they had taken a saw to the roof at the back of my shed in order to move the corner post and fence in further again. They must have just removed part of the raised terrace at the back again.

I do have legal expenses on my insurance so need to use this for civil. I think I will ring police for advice as someone suggested. Hopefully will see solicitor next week. Someone said it may become a pissing contest. It is not really a like for like. They removed and damaged my property. And if they are doing whatever they want to my property whenever they choose, where will it stop? Do I come back to half my terrace missing?

My husband just thought she didn't have very good english when he first went around , but it wasn't that. They don't have a problem with their English. They have a problem in the fact they are thugs. She was basically doing a 'so what' or 'fuc* off, tough' couldn't care less. He is very, very aggressive and she just kept saying 'we're good neighbours, it is gone, what do you want me to do about it?' like it was an act of god, when I went looking for my trellising or a replacement as they had stolen it and disposed of it. Preserve me from bad neighbours if these thugs are the good ones. I have met very nice people on my own road as I knocked on a few doors to ask about their back fences. Why don't I have these sort of people behind me?

Hopefully the solicitor will give us some movement on this next week.

SquinkiesRule Wed 31-Aug-16 08:06:03

Have you looked at google earth and zoomed in on your property, you can print off that picture it will also show how the land used to be before they moved the fence in relation to the shed.

YelloDraw Wed 31-Aug-16 08:11:18

Hope you get some joy with a solicitor. Suspect not tho, these kind of wankers seem to be able to operate without any come back.

Pangurban1 Wed 31-Aug-16 08:14:42

Confuugled1, yes I am taking photos. That is an excellent idea about the videos.

Squinkies, I can't zoom in very well and the fence at one side goes under my shed roof now. The roof was never flush with the wall of the shed. It goes (or did go) further out than the walls of the shed, like a flat pagoda roof. I don't know if you can access older pictures from six months ago. The ones on at the moment show the current state of affairs.

wowfudge Wed 31-Aug-16 08:23:06

Often the pictures on Google Earth are older than those on Google maps/Streetview. Another thing you could do is Google the neighbour's address and see if you can find the particulars of their house when it was on the market as there may well be photos of the garden showing where their fence was in relation to your shed. Rightmove Sold Prices often has far fewer photos available so may not be much use. Also get a copy of their title register and plan from the Land Registry. If the maps have been updated, your shed in relation to the fence may be shown.

Pangurban1 Wed 31-Aug-16 08:56:13

We have an older photo taken showing a small part of the previous fence at the back and the shed inside it. It is at an angle and doesn't give a good perspective on the distance. It does show the shed inside the fence, though. With the roof intact. We now have a photo showing part of the roof sawn off to facilitate the fence being pushed in further.

We did get their title and plan. The maps don't show things like garden sheds. Just permanent buildings I think. Their deeds say to erect and maintain walls/fences. Our fences were already in place for years at this stage and the orientations explicitly stated. Not just T marks. That is why all the other houses I called to, on my road, own their back fences. Some houses are converted into two flats. I didn't bother calling to them as in the first one, the guy didn't even know even who owned the front garden or any fence at all.

DesolateWaist Wed 31-Aug-16 09:19:00

I agree with everything said so far.
Photograph everything from all possible angles. Don't talk to them, do everything through a solicitor.

confuugled1 Wed 31-Aug-16 10:01:00

OP it might be worth having a Google to see if there are any other aerial photos that show your house - either from other mapping companies (MS Bing, Michelin, Ordinance Survey etc) or local ones taken by local planes or drones. Putting your (and the neighbours!) town name, street name and/or postcode into Google with different keywords like drone or pictures or aerial or photo etc can be quite eye opening!

Also speaking to the agents that sold the property if rightmove don't have all the old pictures - they might be able to email you a copy of the particulars they sent out; they might also have more photos.

Guessing you probably don't want to contact the old owners of the property or know them to do so but they may have photos of the old end of their garden.

Maybe the neighbours of your nemesis back neighbour might also be suffering with these new neighbours (imagine having them next to you rather than to the back of you!) so might be able to help out too with pictures or a statement to say they saw the fence moved etc.

Pradaqueen Wed 31-Aug-16 12:10:59

Op, the original advice was to go to a solicitor. If you want to sort this out, you need to do so quickly. You do have rights under criminal damage (shed, fence damage) plus civil rights under trespass.

However, before you do so, Matters to consider-
1. As a pp stated, if this is not a forever house, you will create a dispute which requires disclosure if you want to sell the house.
2. Civil disputes are incredibly expensive.
3. Any legal expenses cover descision making will ultimately be at the discretion of the insurer. If they feel that the end of the line has been reached, you have to accept their decision else you are liable for all of the fees thus far if you decide not to accept.

I speak as someone who is very experienced and who develops property for a living. I was effectively held to ransom by a next door neighbour at a property I was developing over a boundary dispute that could not possibly exist. Ultimately he did not succeed but not before he had run up my legal bill to £9k and I couldn't sell the property in the meantime as no mortgage company would agree a mortgage on it.

My point is, although it's very shit and no sane person would think the actions of your neighbour reasonable, I would is think carefully before starting a legal fight.

Pangurban1 Thu 01-Sep-16 13:22:14

Thank you again for replies. I understand what you are saying Prada, but we cannot rest now as we are unsure if they will further damage our property at any time.

I've been trying to concisely write the issues and how they occurred. It is clear they did all this without knowing or caring if it was their property. It is not even that they thought it was their fence.

When we returned and OH had gone around, he got their phone number. In the short amount of texts that followed, they are calling it 'our joint fence'. I went to the residents association representative to enquire if her back fences was also on her deeds to see if mine were unusual. She told me the woman from the rear had phoned her to ask how a person knows if a fence is theirs or not. Just to add her rear fence was hers. The people adjoining her on either side owned their back fences too.

So, they hadn't even based all that interference with my property on an assumption it was solely theirs. Goodness knows what they would have done if they thought it was theirs completely.

I will print out a copy of the text where they are referring to it as a joint fence. I wonder if I should ask the residents association representative to put in writing for the solicitor/police that they had rang her after we arrived back to enquire about how a person knows if they own their fence?

wowfudge Thu 01-Sep-16 13:35:31

By all means ask the residents' association person to do so. I think a solicitor's letter to these idiots requesting that your property is restored and the fence they have erected repositioned correctly by x date could be the way to go now.

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