Boundary wall query

21 Jun 2019
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United Kingdom
Hi there
I previously had some very good advice on here so hoping for some more help. Neighbour is doing a two story extension. We are both semi detached and they are the non joined side. The two houses are offset so our house is closer to the road than theirs which is offset back. As such their garage which was built at the time all of the houses were built forms about 5ms of the boundary between our back garden and theirs but all built within their side of the boundary. Their new side extension will be built 30cms inside the boundary on their side. Planning hasn’t been approved yet but they had already demolished all of the original garage apart from the side wall which was single skin and we and they agreed remained unsafe without proper support. So today they pulled down the wall. There is now a gap in the boundary of about 5 ms. They have placed a temporary Harris fence there but said since responsibility for the boundary on this side is ours, we should fit new panels to replace the wall of their garage that was there when the buildings were erected in 1969 and that now they have removed. They are also asking us to update the other fence panels because they are getting a bit tired. This cost isn’t high up our list of priorities at the moment and since the current fence is secure and safe we are in no rush to update it. We also feel the new gap in the boundary is only there because they have commenced a project to remove a building that was there from the beginning and to expect us to fix this issue now is a bit unfair.

Where do we stand with regard to responsibility for this boundary? We are responsible for fencing that was on this side of the boundary on the deeds but boundary/fencing would not have extended at the beginning beyond this point since the garage was the boundary wall. If it is our responsibility do we have to find the money to do this? What happens if we can’t? We have a child and a dog and so we need a secure garden. They are planning to rent the property out so I think they would also want to have the situation resolved.
It’s extremely stressful living next door to what has become a pretty big construction (rear full width single story extension and large side double storey extension along with a complete overhaul of north front and back gardens). We are effectively unable to enjoy private and peaceful use of our garden and house during these months and have accepted the many vans and trucks that have arrived and parked in front of our drive or inconsiderately and all the other daily frustrations but to be told that we will have to make good a boundary fence in this way is the point at which it feels unfair. Any advice? Pics attached.
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Maybe not the legal position, but I would have thought with all the inconvenience that you are describing, that it would have been neighbourly of them to offer to rebuild the fence at their expense.
Thanks for responding so fast Harry. Yes I think this is our feeling too. To compound the frustrations they have finished up yesterday and left the two Harris fences unnattached (so not secure to passers by from the front) with no privacy fabric attached (which we asked for) and with a one ft gap underneath which our excitable springer has squeezed through and had an adventure out and onto the estate this morning. Inexplicably they were not onsite banging and swearing at 730am this morning so we can’t get it resolved till after the weekend. We shall focus on the unexpected peace. Guessing our insurance may be affected if we do not have a secure garden. Any further input would be interesting on what we should do next. Thanks v much
The Garage Wall is the boundary between both properties, the neighbour has pulled the wall down to rebuild a two storey extension, if this wall is supposed to be your responsibility why allow him to pull it down ?
He will be expecting you to rebuild a two storey extension wall at your expense next !!
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Where do we stand with regard to responsibility for this boundary?
Is this your actual question from all that text?

If so, being responsible for the boundary merely means that you are responsible for preventing stuff from exiting your property and potentially causing damage to other property. I seem to recall it relating to sheep escaping some land back in the 1800's or something.

So you don't specifically need to do anything to a boundary, but if you have sheep, then a fence may be an idea.

Boundaries are imaginary lines, and are nothing to do with the things like fences, walls, garages which are on boundaries and may denote boundaries. But the things on boundaries bring in the question of ownership of those things, and the responsibility to maintain those things (this is a different concept to maintaining a boundary).

So whilst say, you may be responsible for maintaining a boundary, it is possible that a neighbour owns the fence or wall on a boundary and he will be responsible for maintaining that (ie looking after it) - but that does not mean he is responsible for putting it there or replacing it.

Likewise if you own the thing on the boundary, then a neighbour can't remove or damage it.
You say they haven't received planning permission yet but have started demolition work on site. Have you been consulted by the planning authority for your comments on their proposed extension ? That wouldn't deal with your queries on the legal situation regarding fences/boundaries/maintenance but you should be allowed to comment on the application as the adjoining owner, and it could bring your concerns to everybody's attention which might help resolve things.
Thanks everyone for the helpful comments. Planning hasn’t been granted and the planning officer came out today to discuss our objection. Their concern is the impact on light into out habitable rooms the build doesn’t not comply with the 45degree light rule. We await the decision later in August. The officer wasn’t too impressed that the extension has been started and built into the second storey already. So we now have a 5m gap in the boundary until one of us breaks and fixes it. Sigh.
Regarding your keeping your kid and dog in and safe...

I have two border collies - For emergencies, I keep a 1x25m roll of cheap, lightweight plastic mesh fence in my garden stock and some stakes. It comes in handy when next doors fence gets damaged by gales. A few weeks ago I needed to repaint my drive gates, easier to take them off to repaint them - so to restrict the dogs to the back garden, I used my temporary fence attached to a hedge at one side and the house at the other, across my drive.

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