Settling Disputes Over Property Fencing Can Be Complicated

Conflicts between neighbours because of fences are not uncommon. Many of these cases have made it to the news, and some of them sound bizarre. One recent report has a judge in Barnet, North London, begging a woman to abandon her garden fence case against her neighbours for everyone’s benefit.

Problems between neighbours can be quite cumbersome, especially if they involve petty matters. Some lodge complaints about their neighbours’ fences because of minor boundary incursions. Others complain over aesthetic reasons. Regardless of the nature of the issue, everything has to go through proper processes.

How fencing problems are resolved

Different regions have different ways of addressing conflicts between neighbours. In the UK, for example, disputes over fencing are usually settled through negotiation or mediation. Local officials or village leaders will call a trained mediator to facilitate discussions between the conflicting parties. The mediator will help clarify the claims and inform the parties about the applicable rules and regulations.

For instance, the mediator may suggest replacing the fence or making modifications acceptable to all sides. The discussions will take into account local laws. In Leicester, for example, fences taller than six feet require a building permit. The fixture will be taken down if the fence owner fails to secure this permit. The parties may come to a compromise, like finding a bow top fencing Leicester supplier that can offer a fencing option that is not visually obstructive enough to appease the complainant.

The case will have to go to a court of law if the mediation process is unsuccessful. The complainant may invoke relevant laws such as the Party Wall Act of 1996. It is a long and tedious process. In the report mentioned earlier, the North Londoner complainant already spent over £100,000. The case dragged on for decades.

Alternative solutions

Before proceeding to court, neighbours may agree to other options. They can go through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) or mediation sanctioned by the court.

In ADR, a neutral third party intervenes. This third party is not associated with any of the opposing sides and is also not affiliated with the government. Both parties must fully agree on who the third-party ADR facilitator will be. The facilitator will then produce a binding contract between the parties in conflict to reflect the solution they agreed to.

If ADR does not work, another option that does not go to a full-blown courtroom procedure is court-sanctioned mediation. Most courts prefer to resolve minor village conflicts with mediation. There will be fees involved, but they will not be as much as the cost of pursuing a court trial.

Fences can be a source of serious issues between neighbours. It is advisable to give neighbours a heads-up when building fences that may become visually obstructive. When erecting the fences, it is important to talk to neighbours to ascertain the boundaries. Fencing issues can be unnecessarily complicated, and it is always better to avoid getting involved in one.


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