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Ongoing Issues With Neighbour


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#1 Calvinmiddle

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 07:39 AM

So as you might know if you have read any of my blog (which badly needs updated but managing building a house whilst also doing your normal job doesn't give much free time) we have had some issues with the neighbour.

Latest is that we are beginning to erect the fence which is a planing condition saying I need to erect a 2m fence along the boundary.

As there is an established hedge along the bottom half we are building a feather edge fence as that is easier than using panels. We installed the posts all the up to the driveway to the footpath, which is extra wide as there used to be an old turnig lane so there is a 4-5m footpath before the road.

We don't plan the erect the fence here for a while as the level of the drive has to be sorted out and the crossover onto the footpath is a bit of a mess as well and looks to have sunk.

Anyway there is a row of 6 ft high posts up the side of the driveway and it's the only thing seperating the drives since he pulled the old green wire fence and concrete posts out one weekend when we were away to put an edging on his drive (fence was mine and no he didn't asked my permission he just did it as that is the type of guy he is)

He came over at the weekend to same he wasn't happy with the height and he wanted the bit near the road to be reduced height to give him a viability spray. He didn't like it when I pointed out he wouldn't have an issue with visiblity if he reversed into his drive and drove out and not the other way, I also pointed out that his buddy next door has a 7ft privet hedge along his front boundary that was taller than the fence posts and that we hadn't taken the posts all the way out to the footpath (due to an brick post footing.)

He then insisted that I had to agree the fence with him first before I erected it and I told him the fence was on my land, I was paying for it and would do whatever the hell I wanted to and it was nothing to do with him.

His parting words were "I'll just cut it down to size then". This is what the post is really about, we are going on holiday in a week or two and I'm not sure who will be on site, but he is the type of guy that would go out and cut the fence posts in half where he wants the fence height to reduce. This of course is criminal damage (and trespass) but issue might be proving that it was him and not someone else.

So I'm wondering if I used my time lapse camera set up in the house to record the drive and fence posts, and he catch him cutting posts down would this be something that the police would be able to use against him? Not that I want him charged, would just be nice if someone had a chat to him to tell him to back off and he doesn't have to right to continually tell us what he wants to happen regarding our property, and that cutting someone else's posts down is criminal damage, even I he thinks that should be half the height.

Edited by Calvinmiddle, 08 July 2015 - 05:01 PM.


#2 Calvinmiddle

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 07:42 AM

Sorry that is a bit long - but this guy is wearing me down, had to block him on my phone as there was snide texts coming from him weekly

#3 vijay

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 07:51 AM

I wouldn't block his texts, it could be used as evidence if you have to take matters further

#4 Calvinmiddle

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 08:02 AM

Not sure if would ever want to take matters further I'd need to understand what impact that would have when I came to sell house, didn't you have to tell about any disputes you have with any neighbours?

#5 jsharris

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 08:03 AM

I'd put a camera up. He's already shown that he is quite OK about committing criminal damage, having done it when ripping out your old fence. Undoubtedly he'll do the same again when you're away. It might well be an idea to pin signs on the posts making it clear they are your property, photo these (with date evidence) and perhaps put the replacement cost of each on the sign, as a gentle reminder of the costs he will incur if he cuts them down.

The problem is what to do if he cuts them down and once you have the evidence. The police won't be interested, I'm sure, so that leaves you seeking a civil remedy. The main problem with civil remedies is that they are time consuming.

If we assume that the new fence posts are going to be cut down when you're away, you know how much each costs to replace and that you will replace them and then try to claim the cost for doing do back from your neighbour. You can do this using the small claims procedure, online if you wish, and your neighbour will then be summonsed to defend the case. It's not heard in court, but around a table (or remotely just by papers nowadays if both sides agree). If you have irrefutable evidence of your neighbour cutting down the posts without your consent then you will win and be awarded the cost of replacing the posts, plus your claim registration fee (but no damages) by the court. The neighbour will be issued with a notice to pay. If he fails to pay, then you have to go back to the court to get an order to make him pay. If he still fails to pay you have to go back to the court again to use a bailiff to recover the amount owed.

All told it is a slow and tedious process, but it can damage your neighbours credit rating and cause him a fair bit of hassle.

There are several things you must not do. Firstly, you should make every effort to communicate with him, as failing to do so may be construed as you having contributed to the problem. Secondly, don't get into any discussion with him about visibility splays, whether he should reverse into his drive etc, as you are not qualified to make such judgements and he could well use what you say to reinforce his arguments. Bear in mind that many local authorities will not allow reversing from a road into a drive now, they insist that drives are constructed such that cars can always enter and leave in a forward gear, so suggesting he reverse in is not a wise move. Finally, I'd just stick to doing exactly what you have permission for, take all the reasonable measures you can to minimise disruption to the neighbour, don't get into any arguments with him(hard as that may be) and document/photograph/video everything you can. Keep an accurate diary of every conversation you have, with the date and time, and prepare to have to fight unreasonable actions if you have to.

The key to "winning" disputes like this is to stay calm and gather lots and lots of evidence. That also helps when it comes to trying to build bridges with the neighbour once this is all over.

Edited by jsharris, 07 July 2015 - 08:04 AM.


#6 ProDave

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 08:03 AM

Take a photo of the fence posts now with the date showing on the picture. Make sure he knows you are taking pictures and why.

If they "shrink" while you are away take another picture.

A planning condition overrules a neighbours desires, but are you sure the planners intended the fence to be 2M high all the way to the road? imho it would be better to reduce height as it nears the road for both of you.

To reduce the tension and risk of damage while you are away, I would talk to him and say you will discuss the height of the front bit at the time you come to fit the fence panels. (note "discuss" it does not imply you are actually going to change your mind)

If he does cut the wooden posts down, my next move would be to replace them with concrete posts.

Edited by ProDave, 07 July 2015 - 08:05 AM.


#7 RandAbuild

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 08:08 AM

The thing to remember when dealing with neighbours is that they have been living there before you, and will quickly get upset if you interfere with how they've always done things. It's always best to be conciliatory, ask for their views before you do anything that could affect them and try to compromise. Some people will be unreasonable, but most will respond positively.

You've got off to a bad start by using words like "the fence was on my land, I was paying for it and would do whatever the hell I wanted to and it was nothing to do with him". It has everything to do with him. Put yourself in his shoes and try to see how you might react if a stranger came in and said that to you.

#8 jsharris

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 08:35 AM

View PostRandAbuild, on 07 July 2015 - 08:08 AM, said:

The thing to remember when dealing with neighbours is that they have been living there before you, and will quickly get upset if you interfere with how they've always done things. It's always best to be conciliatory, ask for their views before you do anything that could affect them and try to compromise. Some people will be unreasonable, but most will respond positively.

You've got off to a bad start by using words like "the fence was on my land, I was paying for it and would do whatever the hell I wanted to and it was nothing to do with him". It has everything to do with him. Put yourself in his shoes and try to see how you might react if a stranger came in and said that to you.

I agree in principle, it's what we did with the neighbour to the rear of our plot when we had to erect a replacement for the very rickety and partly collapsed three bar timber fence that had been there when we bought the plot. The fence was ours, but after we'd excavated for the retaining wall it was going to be perched on top of a 2.5m drop, so clearly needed to be replaced with something more substantial that would provide a good degree of safety.

I took the conciliatory approach, and went to talk through options with the neighbour. It was clear that he didn't like our design of retaining wall and didn't know what he wanted along the top of it. Being sensitive to his concerns, we scrapped the plans for the cheaper gabion wall were were going to put in and went for a far more expensive reinforced concrete wall, largely to keep the neighbour happy (not that he can see the wall at all, he just had irrational fears about the strength of a gabion wall, even after I'd shown him the structural engineering calcs and drawings).

So, we finalised the design of the concrete wall and several weeks before we started work I went to see the neighbour again, showed him the plans and the scale model and talked through the protection measures we would put in place for some of his shrubs near the boundary. He was happy with all of this, so we started work.

As soon as work started he started complaining. He complained at the orange mesh fencing we'd erected to protect the shrubs etc along the lower edge of his garden. He complained about having a safety barrier to prevent him and his family from getting too near the edge of the excavation, he complained that the excavation was much deeper than he had been led to believe (even though we had given him plans with the depths marked clearly). In short he complained about anything and everything. Every time I went to see him all he had was a litany of complaints.

In the end I decided that I needed to make amends with him, so once we had the wall up I asked him what sort of fence he'd like, mentioning that I had a budget of around £1600 for replacing the fencing and had planned on erecting a nicer timber fence to replace the old post and rail fence. He was adamant that he would only accept a stone wall, made from stone that matched his house. I suggested that a tall stone wall would put the bottom of his garden in deep shade all day (it's is southern boundary) and he might want to consider a lower safety fence with something like trellis on top. He was adamant the wall had to be stone, even when I mentioned that it was my wall and that I had a set budget based on only a modest upgrade to the fence that had been there before.

In the end, rather than fall out with him I built a stone wall, at a cost of well over £4k. He still moans about it. Apparently the stone is the wrong colour (it is). The fact that the stone is the wrong colour is entirely his fault, as I got several samples, and got him to choose the sample he preferred. when he chose one that didn't match his house I was surprised, and questioned it, but he was adamant. I even got him to state in writing the stone he'd chosen, and left him with the sample (with the name sticker on it). He STILL complains at me every time he sees me, either about the stone, the fact the the soil in the area is poor (which is, apparently, my fault, although we didn't touch his garden soil) and even keeps pestering me every time I see him about getting my contractors to come and do some work to make areas of his garden more accessible (put some steps in) at my expense.

No matter what I could do to keep this chap on side he'd complain, and frankly I rather wish I'd just done what I wanted to do and ignored him. Things would be no worse and I'd be around £10k better off.

Edited by jsharris, 07 July 2015 - 08:38 AM.


#9 temp

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 08:44 AM

The problem with setting up a camera is that cameras can annoy people even more. I would set one up but keep it out of sight. Try and avoid filming his garden. Make sure he know that the fence is a planning condition. However you would be within your rights to put up a 2m fence even without planning permission.





#10 notnickclegg

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 08:46 AM

Some people aren't happy unless they're unhappy. I never used that expression before I started a self-build, but it's been in weekly use since!

Jack

#11 bitpipe

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 09:29 AM

We have friends who've just finished a perfectly reasonable extension to their 80's detached house in a local development and their neighbours have been a horror from day one, even though they built the self same style of extension a few years back. We usually pop by every weekend and even we get scowled at by them as we park up - how much energy this must take is beyond me.

We've taken pains to involve our immediate neighbours - we are very much the new kids on the block being a generation younger than most of them. You do have to bite your tongue from time to time and I'm sure it will all get much more heated once the build starts in a few weeks (we had a taster when having the caravan delivered and getting the garage demolished).

I will also need to take a deep breath and visit the neighbour opposite who has never spoken to us (plenty of scowls though).

I guess the balance is doing everything reasonable to avoid upset but not being a doormat either.

#12 JonoMarshall

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 09:44 AM

Whilst spending 10k trying to placate someone seems extreme! I think it's well worth your time to try and make peace with the neighbour as soon as possible.

Yes some people are always going to be a problem, but there's a slim chance that this guy isn't one of them and you should take the opportunity to save yourself lots of time/energy/hassle in the future?

#13 Calvinmiddle

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 09:44 AM

This is not a new issue with him, it started 5 yrs ago when I when over to tell him about our plans for building in the back garden and chat about the 1st version of the plans.

His response was "There is no way I'm letting you build a house in your back garden, I like the view (from his elevated patio) over you garden and don't want it spoilt."

Then started the planing saga when at every application he employed a planning consultant to get the application rejected.

He thinks that as he was there first I should respect and do want he wants, even thought when he moved in he did a massive extension and annoyed the guy who lived in the house before me.

Not sure putting the notices would be helpful, might be a red rag to a bull...

But What is the accepted way to record a date in a photograph?

#14 JonoMarshall

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 09:52 AM

Photos usually have dates in the metadata, or your camera may have a timestamp setting (add timestamp to all footage/images, etc).

#15 RandAbuild

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 09:54 AM

Jeremy's experience seems to confirm Jack's - some people will never be happy! But if it ever goes to a formal dispute, a court will usually find in favour of the party that has acted reasonably.

#16 Calvinmiddle

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 09:59 AM

View PostJonoMarshall, on 07 July 2015 - 09:52 AM, said:

Photos usually have dates in the metadata, or your camera may have a timestamp setting (add timestamp to all footage/images, etc).

But don't you set the time and date one camera in the first place?

Does my iphone camera capture the date as it gets the time and date from the network

#17 JonoMarshall

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 10:29 AM

You can digitally alter all meta data and obviously the image itself. But you can also tell when a file has been digitally altered (and when).

That's all for Mi5 to contend with though, you're essentially looking at proving beyond reasonable doubt that the event happened when you said it did. I'd hold a newspaper up in front of the footage (or add a date/time stamp overlay) before going away and leave it at that.

Edited by JonoMarshall, 07 July 2015 - 10:29 AM.


#18 Nickfromwales

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 11:27 AM

Hold up a copy of the day's newspaper. ;) include two shots, one close up showing the part page with date and another of the whole rag in clear view.
A shot of the front page is evidence enough as it cannot be faked or tampered with.
I'd just inform him in writing that any form of trespass on your land will result in prosecution. Being told that he'll happily trespass and commit criminal damage is enough to stop giving a FACK about his feelings and look after yourself.
Any act of trespass, caught on video, will give you legal recourse in the criminal court so won't cost you a penny and will have instant repercussions.
Time to hit this head on or it's going to go on forever as he'll perceive you as a pushover otherwise.
Jeremy, your the nicest crazy person I know.
Your neighbour would have had a choice of what colour stain he wanted and nowt else. Kudos for trying, but taking £2400 out of your pocket to appease a nugget ? Had you been at the 'feeling foul' by any chance that day :D
Regards, nick.

#19 stones

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 02:12 PM

As others have said, some people will never be satisfied, even if you do bend over backwards to accommodate them. Other than the general advice given above, I would suggest the following:

Keep a diary of any and all contact with your neighbour, be it good or bad. Make sure report any bad behaviour (abusive, threatening or criminal damage) to the Police - even if they don't attend it is still evidence and your reporting of the incident will be recorded on the police force's command/control/contact system. A full history of what has happened would form the basis of any criminal or indeed civil proceedings if things deterioated, and would certainly be in your favour if this neighbour decided to make any allegations about you.

I would have thought lowering the fence as it nears the road is sensible for you as well as him, so by all means do as Dave suggests and tell him you will discuss the issue of visibilty splay, on your return from holiday. Easy enough to write a letter to him saying so rather than speaking to him.

In respect of your receiving texts, if any of these are indecent, grossly offensive, obscene or threatening/menacing in nature, report them to the Police and your network provider. There is specific legislation regarding the sending of such message by means of a public communications network. The networks in particular can and do take robust action against offenders (cutting off / invalidating their numbers for example).

#20 jsharris

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 05:31 PM

My case isn't as grim as it seems, and knowing what I know now I'd never have given in so much. We get on really well with all the other neighbours around, who have been extremely supportive, more than we could have wished for, really. This chap is just one of life's moaners, I've since learned. He likes nothing better than being negative about anything and everything, it's just the way he is. Some of our other neighbours take a far less charitable view than we do of him, and at least one thinks I was barking mad to build the stone wall for him (we can't even see it!) but I took the naive view that we needed good neighbours, as we plan on staying there for the rest of our days.

Edited by jsharris, 07 July 2015 - 05:32 PM.