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Dispute over fencing

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dantray01 | 23:01 Fri 19th Aug 2011 | Civil
32 Answers
Hello:

My neighbours and I are having a dispute over a fence, here are the facts:

We have a dog who stays in the garden during the day when we are at work. Since the beginning of the summer holidays the next door neighbours kids have been winding him up, ie shouting at him, throwing sweets/sticks/toys etc to him and banging on the fencing. the dog in return seems to have been jumping at the fence back to them and over the last 4-5 weeks the fencing has weakened.

A week or so ago the fence needed patching up, the neighbour suggested I chain up my dog, which I am not prepared to do. I told my neighbour I would fix the panel, or replace if necessary. My neighbour then said he was concerned that the dog would break another wooden fence (refused to acknowledge his kids part in this) and also said he was not prepared to pay anything towards the replacing of fences.

This morning I noticed that a panel was badly damaged and have decided to replace all wooden fences with three 1ft concrete panels, and a 2ft wooden fence panel on top, making sure the dog can't cause any more problems.

I have spent around 300 quid on new fences and have not asked my neighbour to contribute towards any of this, partly I suppose because I know it is my dog that has caused some of the damage and I can't really tell the dog not to react if the kids are throwing sweets over for him.

neighbours have both been round tonight shouting and screaming about the fence because now it doesn't match the ones on the other side.

I have said if they want to pay for half of it then we can reach a comprimise, however, this is not something they want to entertain.

Their arguement is that the dog has caused the damage, why should they pay. I can see where they're coming from but to be honest the fences have been in for 7 or 8 years anyway now and they didn't contribute the last time they needed replacing.

Can anyone tell me where I stand with this? I realise that a lot of the information in this post is probably irrelevant but any advice would be greatly appreciated.

THanks,
Dan

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If it turns out to be your fence Dan , which I hope it does. Hope you paint the concrete on their side black or some other depressing colour and tell them to sling their hook when they complain. They would no rights to make demands on what it should look like, if they dont own or contribute to its upkeep.
09:58 Sat 20th Aug 2011
If the fence is on your ground then the choice is yours, assuming there are no other requirements about types of fence that can be built.
I'm a little concerned that you leave your dog in the garden all day alone. What if it were to jump the fence and do harm to the neighbours? or they do harm to it?
Firstly you need to establish whose fence it is. If it is their fence, and tyour dog has damaged it, i can see why they would be upset that you plan to replace it with something different. The key to who needs to maintain the boundary will be on your house plans.
If it is their fence, the way round it would be to repair the panel then put up the fence with concrete on your side of the boundary. If it is your fence (and your boundary to maintain) then tell them to stuff it, and put up whatever you like. It's worth noting that even if it is your boundary, there is no obligation in the normal run of things to even put up a fence. However, because you have a loose dog you have to
ps. Not sure how you know the kids are winding up the dog if you are not actually there, but if the dog only destroys the fence cause of the kids, take heart in the fact they'll be back at school in a week or 2 and just patch up, as there's not going to be any more damage,
You've not told us who owns the fence!

If the fence is your property then (unless there's a covenant in your deeds requiring you to keep it in good order) you can leave it in a damaged state, pull it down altogether or replace it (or any part of it) with any style of fencing that you choose. (If your neighbour doesn't like the look of it he'll have to build his own fence inside yours, or seek your permission to paint his side of your fence).

If the fence is your neighbour's property then you could normally simply say: "It's your fence, you fixit". (Again, your neighbour could choose to do so, to leave things as they are or to remove it completely).

However you seem to have admitted some liability for damage to the fence. If so (and if the fence is your neighbour's property) then he has the right to insist that you return the fence to its former state. (i.e. he can say how it should look, and you can't).

Chris
scotsman is right, if the fence is on your property, then it is your choice, but I would try to make sure that your dog when outside while you're away is not able to be in contact with the kids next door!.........maybe make a run for the dogs.........not sure, but the way things are is not ideal!......
It may tell you on your deeds for the house which side of the house is your responsibility to repair/replace the fence. I'm responsible for the fence on my left as I stand at my front or back door. In any case you have admitted that your dog has damaged the fence and replaced it in good faith. They have not made any recompense to you at all. If they had been reasonable you could have discussed it with them. Tough. I'd get a solicitor if they carry on.
Is this a joint boundary or is it a boundary that you have responsibility for? If it is a joint boundary then both parties should agree on the type of fencing. If it is a boundary that you are responsible for then as long as the fence doesn't break height restrictions or any local restrictions then you can put up a fence of your choice.

If these are newish houses then your land registry will tell you whether the fence is your responsibility or your neighbours or the responsibility of both of you. This will probably be marked on the plans or there will be written instructions.

If your house is not registered then you will need to see your deeds.
The other alternative of course, is to put up another fence on your side of the existing boundary fence which will be on your property and it can be constructed exactly as you like it as long as it doesn't contravene height requirements. It can literally be put up just a few inches away from the boundary fence!!
If the dog loose in the garden is there no way that you could build or install a run with a little kennel area for it to use as a den?

I think that the welfare of your dog is more important than who pays for the fence. Kids wind up dogs - not always intentionally. What if your dog were to get into your neighbour's garden and attack one of the kids - dogs get excited and even the calmest of dogs is a potential biter.

Does your dog have somewhere to go to get out of the rain and wind?

I don't question that you love your dog and feel that you are doing the best for it - but try and step back and look at the problem calmly and rationally.

Good luck to your and your dog
Question Author
HI,

thanks for the responses. i'll dig out the deeds later and have a look.

Daffy654: Rest assured, the dog isn't left all day - my wife works part time and is finishing altogether in november. The only harm the neighhours would ever come to is if they were to be licked to death!

I don't believe the neighbours would harm the dog. However, they are nasty pieces of work and if he were to find his way into the garden I don't for one second doubt they would open their gate and let him escape... probably every right to really.

More to follow with regards to deeds.
Question Author
Hi, have been going through my documents, a pile about 12 inches thick and i'm not too sure what i am looking for.

However, this is an extract from a letter from our solicitor received when we bought the house. Does anyoone familiar with the party wall act know what this means, or if it applies to us:

With regards to the final passage about compensation - I don't want any money for the fence if this applies to me.

The walls andlor fences dividing the property from the adjoining properties are stated
to be party walls and fences. The Party Wall Act 1996 now affects the building and
maintenance of walls along the party line and even on your own land if it abuts and
adjoining property. The Act also deals with the resolution of disputes
between adjoining owners. Section 2 of the Act deals with the obligations in regard to
repair or maintenance of a party wall. The Act deals with who is responsible for the
cost of repair or building works. This can depend upon whether the work done is in
respect of a repair or not. Some costs may be shared; other costs may not. If the
adjoining orvner does not have any money then, regardless of the Act, you may not
receive compensation that you may be entitled to for work that you have paid for.

Again, thank you for your help.

Dan.
I think it's a shame that People take on dogs as pets when they don't have the time of day for them. Dog's ain't for shoving out in the back garden. You have a pet to live in your home with you as part of the family, To care for and look after. What if it's raining or freezing cold in winter? Do you still put the Dog out while your both off at work? No wonder the fence is broken. The dog is bord stiff and can hear the kids playing in the garden next door, It want's company and can hear the kids playing and wants to join in, Probably trying to make them aware of it by jumping at the fence,In return kids will hear it and bang back.
Question Author
Dear Rav1d,

Thank you for your very constructive comment. As stated previously the dog is outside whilst my wife works part time, for 4 hours, three times a week. For the remaining 156 hours of the week the dog is in the house and is well and truly part of the family.

With regards to your comment about it being raining or freezing cold in winter - the dog has a fully insulated kennel but again, as stated previously, my wife will be finishing work altogether in November.

Thank you.
Dan
Dan, we have quite a few people on here with legal expertise to help to translate that party wall terminology for you - it may be a little early in the day though - hopefully they will see the post and help you later on today.
Seems to me you've gone arse about face. You should have looked at your deeds to determine who's fence it is, then looked at the party wall act, then approached your neighbours based on the facts gleaned. I think I'd be a little miffed if one of my neighbours had done this. Your neighbours may have recourse to legal action against you in respect of the party wall act.
If you google 'party wall act' there is a downloadable government doc which clearly explains all aspects o the act. Other search engines are available.
If you have plans of your property it usually has a T pointing into your garden on the boundary. Not familiar with the Party wall Act, but reading the extract you have supplied suggests the the fence is shared responsibilty, even if entirely on your land. I take it you have been informed by other neighbours that the children are tormenting the dog. If it was my dog I would certainly point out to my neighbours that the fence wouldn't get in a broken state if they controlled their children and they were not allowed to torment it. You state that the children are also banging on the fence , surely they are doing equal damage. Is there a reason why the dog is being left out, does it cry and bark, or become destructive when left in the house, if not, then cant you keep it in , it would be kinder , rather than leave it outside to be wound up. Especially if it will be only inside for a few hours and not all day. Our dog is perfectly happy left inside, providing she has had a good walk beforehand.
The Party Wall Act applies to masonry structures only - can never apply to wooden fences. The wording has only been put in there as a standard set of clauses in your rights / restrictions that come with your land title. There is reference to party fences in the Act, but it means masonry dividing walls between adjacent land ownerships.
People are understandably making comments on here about dan's dog - all well and good, but his question is about the legality of his fence, something else altogether, so let's stick to that aspect without criticising dan's practice of leaving his dog outside for a few hours occasionally.

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