My neighbour replaced the fence between our properties without my permission – what are my rights?
Probably out of common courtesy that would have been nice but who cares, your garden looks much better.
If you fall into the shock and horror category – perhaps because the new fence is a much lower affecting your privacy or perhaps his choice of fence is just down right ugly and clashes with your whole garden theme. Whatever your reason, what are your next steps?
Before going over to your neighbour with an axe and hammer, the first thing you need to do is check your title deeds to clarify who is responsible for erecting and maintaining the boundary feature you share with your neighbour. If the title deeds confirm that it is within your neighbour‘s ownership and his responsibility, unfortunately there is very little you can do unless the new fence breaches planning permission or it has been installed over the property line thus encroaching into your garden. In the latter situation, this effectively amounts to trespass onto your land for which you can require your neighbour to remove the encroachment and make good any damaged caused by it to your land (or pay your costs of repairing such damage).
If the fence neither breaches planning permission or has been erected along the boundary line, then you could always plant some hedges alongside it if you don’t like the way it looks or even erect your own fence within your boundaries but right up against the newly installed fence. Generally speaking, planning permission is not required for fences not exceeding 2metres in height. Alternatively, you may have legal remedies if the new fence is unsafe or is causing a nuisance to you.
If the title deeds confirm that the boundary feature is in your ownership and responsibility then your neighbour has interfered with your property. You can therefore require him to remove the new fence and claim your costs for installing another fence. Your neighbour could also be charged with criminal damage for removing (and most likely disposing of) your fence.
It is very important to note however, even if the title deeds confirm that the boundary is your responsibility – your neighbour is perfectly entitled to put up his own fence on his side of the boundary. You cannot control what your neighbour does on his own land, unless the fencing or work breaches planning permissions or other statutory regulations.
Before taking any formal action, always try to speak with your neighbour and try to resolve the situation amicably. Boundary disputes can be very costly, stressful and permanently ruin relations with neighbours.