How To Deal With Boundary, Fence and Hedge Disputes14th Sep 2020
Why You Must Nip Boundary Disputes In The Bud
Boundary disputes can get out of hand all too easily. You must solve them quickly before they become time-consuming, stressful and expensive.
It is not unknown for feuding neighbours to waste thousands of pounds arguing in court over a fence that’s just a few centimetres on ‘the wrong side’.
Obviously, you don’t want your neighbours taking liberties by ‘acquiring’ some of your land during their next DIY fence project. And neither should you be the victim of their unfounded claims.
But it pays to get expert legal advice to solve the problem in the quickest and most cost-effective way. Otherwise you risk a long and expensive legal battle.
Why Boundary Disputes Occur
As experienced disputes and litigation solicitors, we can tell you that boundary disputes arise due to a few common factors:
- people are like most other species on the planet – they’re territorial
- urban areas are becoming more (over)crowded
- rows over boundaries, hedges and fences can often be the symptom of a much deeper personality clash or long-running feud between neighbours.
Fence Disputes – Who’s In The Right?
The fence belongs to whoever’s land it is on, regardless of:
- who paid for it (or helped to pay for it)
- which side of the garden it’s on
- which way the panels or battens are facing.
If it’s on your land, it’s your fence and your responsibility. Learn more here about:
- finding where the real boundary is
- how to create a boundary agreement
- what happens if you can’t agree a boundary with your neighbours.
Is My Neighbour’s Fence Too High?
The basic rules on this are clear. You don’t need planning permission to put up a fence if it is under two metres high (one metre if next to a road or pavement).
What can complicate matters is if the new (and ‘too high’) fence replaced a pre-existing fence, wall or gate that was already that height. That may not need planning permission either.
But this is a very simple overview. There are further rules that apply to listed buildings or existing planning conditions – so don’t take action without first getting legal advice.
Can I Prune My Neighbour’s Overgrown Hedge?
Your neighbour has allowed their once-tidy hedge to turn into a jungle and run riot across your pristine flower beds.
Their horrible hedge is damaging your expensive fence – and those beautiful blooms you spent ages planting.
Infuriating isn’t it? And the worst part of all is that your dreadful neighbours’ hedge looks tidy on their side – so they couldn’t care less about the damage to your garden.
You’d love to hack down their hedge with your smart new electric trimmer. That’ll show them! But can you do so legally?
Put simply, you can trim branches or roots that cross into your property from a neighbouring property or a public road. But you may need council permission if there is a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) in place. Be aware that breaking a TPO can result in very severe fines.
What about all the clippings? Resist the temptation to hurl them back over the fence. Technically, you must ‘return the trimmings’ to the owner.
Can I Claim Compensation For Damage To My Property?
Yes – if your neighbour’s tree or hedge damages your property then they could be liable for the cost.
But the reverse can also apply. If you’ve killed off their hedge or damaged their fence in your response to their actions then you could be liable for compensation.
And it’s not just the neighbours you need to worry about. If your property borders a road, the highways authority can order you to prune any trees or hedges that are causing an obstruction.
If you refuse, the authority can do the work itself then charge you for it.
How To Stop Boundary Disputes Getting Out Of Hand
Even the smallest boundary, fence or hedge dispute can make you very anxious and angry because they affect the most important place in the world – your home.
Your lovely home is supposed to be the one place you can escape the madding crowd and all the stress. So when your domestic peace is compromised, it can have a disproportionately high impact on your happiness and well-being.
But it’s important to maintain perspective (while still standing up for your rights). Do not let a row with your neighbours blind you to what is actually at stake financially. Do not let a petty disagreement become an expensive obsession. That leads only to unhappiness and a hole in your bank account.
Our pragmatic solicitors can help you to stop a dispute getting out of hand. This can save you a great deal of money, time and stress. So you can happily get on with your life.
Get Expert Legal Advice
Contact Coles Miller consultant litigation solicitor Dion McCarthy for more information about:
- taking legal action to protect your property and claim compensation for damages done
- defending yourself against civil claims or counter-claims.