Before diving into the core issue, the landlord’s responsibility to repair and maintain garden fences, an issue which I’m sure you’re helplessly excited about, let me tell you where my miserable little life is at right now (although, feel free to skip the intro if you couldn’t give a crap, because it really has nothing to do with anything other than my dwindling spirit!)…
I’m currently on a flight from the deepest and darkest depths of hell.
It’s freakin’ happened again.
In a blog post I wrote last year, which was about my tenants’ getting divorced, I briefly mentioned how I was uncomfortably writing my post during a flight home from Bucharest, while being physically squashed alive by two rather hefty neighbouring individuals that were sat on the right and left of me.
To cut a long story short, they were both spilling into my designated seating area, which meant I had to retract all my limbs deep into their sockets and restrict myself to very limited movements to accommodate their ‘snug’ fit.
While I didn’t say it out loud, I think my point was that I was the real victim of bad fortune, not my divorcing tenants’. They’ll move on, probably with the help of Tinder. I, on the other hand, scarred for life- you don’t just walk away from being squashed alive by human-blubber without physical and psychological battle wounds. As far as I’m aware, there isn’t an app to help with that kind of rehabilitation.
Some of you may remember the massacre. If not, don’t worry, I’m re-living the mutilation…
Short of torpedoing into the Atlantic, I didn’t think it could get any worse as far as a flight was concerned. I was wrong.
On this particular ‘full’ flight I’m currently enduring, I’ve been lumbered next to a guy that’s not only unapologetically consuming my allocated space, but he’s also harbouring some pretty concerning hygiene issues. If I had to describe this guy, sitting to the right of me (not the guy on the left, he’s fine), in 3 words, I’d have to go with “human gas chamber.” He’s releasing thick, congealed waves of body-heat, which every inch of my exposed flesh can feel; he genuinely smells like beef stew; he’s profusely wiping sweat off his face with tissues, like he’s soaking up the final remains of a delicious soup with bread; and he has rolled up balls of off-white tissue in his ears.
Seriously, fucking gross! I feel physically sick. What a foul creation.
The silver-living here is that I’ll be vomiting my guts out later and I’ve probably lost my appetite for the next week, so I may lose a few pounds of body fat! What hurt the most though, is that when I updated my Facebook status (something I rarely do) before take-off, to inform my loved-ones of my life-threatening dilemma, it managed to produce a staggering amount of ‘likes’.
Now, life-threatening dilemma aside, this coincidentally leads me onto another recent experience with another type of unpleasant neighbour. Mind you, it’s not a particularly gripping story, but right now I’m prepared to write any ol’ shit just to distract myself from my reality!
Folks, quick quiz…
Question: what’s more inconvenient than your tenant contacting you to report a problem you couldn’t give a shit about?
Well, that’s the obvious answer, and what I wholeheartedly believed up until last week, when my tenant’s neighbour’s landlord (you with me? Read it again!) contacted me.
Updated answer: your tenant’s neighbour’s landlord contacting you to report a problem you couldn’t give a shit about.
The broken garden fence
So last week I received a noticeably snotty text message from my tenant’s neighbour’s landlord, informing me that one of the supporting garden fence posts, which helps divide our land, has disintegrated into a toothpick and was on the verge of toppling over. He then smugly pointed out that the ownership ‘title deeds’ indicated that the fence was with in my boundaries, so basically it was solely my responsibility to repair, and I should get a move on.
There was an air of pleasure and obnoxiousness about the way he worded his message. Or maybe I was just so devastated by the news that everything suddenly looked dull.
Anyways, OK, cool, it’s my fence. Don’t touch it. Ever. Not even from your side of the garden. I’ll rip your fucking fat-sausage digits off if you do.
TRY AND TEXT ME THEN!
In all seriousness, his text came across like he was forcefully telling me to fix it, almost like I would put up a fight, or completely neglect the problem. Typical asshole landlord. I mean that, too.
Bear in mind, this was the first time I had ever interacted with the guy, so he could have just been, well, courteous and well-mannered.
Annoyingly, I think my tenant gave him my number. I’ll rip her stupid fingers out of her sockets too, just for throwing me into the lion’s den. What a snitch.
I’m overreacting, aren’t I? Probably.
Don’t worry, it’s all part of the show, I’m cool.
Garden fences I can deal with, they’re relevantly easy and cheap to repair, no biggie. Now, dealing with faulty boilers, on the other hand, that’s when you’ll find me snotty-nosed and teary-eyed. Many of you will know that I had to replace two last year, and consequently I’m still on a cost-effective pot-noodle diet so I can recover the losses. Jesus Christ, they taste like dog-shit, don’t they? Ironically, I’m pretty sure there’s more nutritional value in dog-shit.
So, anyways, broken fence post. Right. I’m on it.
Options available to fix the rotten post
After receiving a couple of quotes, some being more ludicrous than others (they must have been wrongfully quoting to build a 440ft brickwall), I gave the nod to a reasonably-priced landscaper to replace the post the following week, so the division between the North and South could stand strong once again. The ordeal set me back a manageable £120. I suppose it could have been worse, £121.
Now, if you happen to be in this precise predicament, be careful, because the usual ‘rules of life’ will apply- be wary of scheming little pillocks. Yes, remarkably even when it comes to a £120 garden fence post.
Here are a few things I learned along the way, which you may want to take note of…
- Depending on the type of fence you have, some people will claim that you need to replace not only the post, but the entire row (or at least a large portion of it, including some panels). Usually, you don’t. That’s the expensive option. The damaged post alone can be replaced with the help of some metal brackets. It is a considerably cheaper option, but the metal brackets can look slightly odd. However, they can be painted over to blend in with the fence, or strategically masked with nature/wildlife.
- I received a £200 quote for the damaged post to be “fixed”, not replaced. I have no idea how or why anyone would fix a rotting post that genuinely looked beyond repair, but needless to say, he never heard from me again. I didn’t even bother asking him how much it would cost to actually do a proper job and replace the post.
Who’s responsible for fixing communal fences?
I’ve blogged about some pretty excruciatingly boring drivel in my time, but “ownership of fences” has got to be the clear cut winner on the ‘boring shit’ scales. I may as well be blogging about Brussels-sprouts. I think that’s why I splashed so much ‘colour’ into this post, just to give it some life, albeit, understandably unbearable for many of you. Sorry!
On a sidenote, here’s an interesting fact, although probably not utterly surprising- the unsubscribe rate for my landlord newsletter literally rockets to the Moon when I’m [subjectively] overly blasphemous. People literally evacuate like they’re on the Titanic. I’ve probably already passed the tolerable quota level (I’ve said “shit” five or so times times), so this post is probably going to sink my subscribership.
That said, I’ve probably decided to publish this post during a very appropriate time (even though it wasn’t intentional), as I’m sure many landlords were at the receiving end of unwanted phonecalls earlier this week, from their tenants/agents after ‘storm Katie’ through a hissy-fit over the Bank Holiday weekend. Annoying.
Anyways, back to the riveting issue of garden fence maintenance and ownership…
I’ve heard many people say that you generally own the fence on the left. Yeah, that’s not true. Usually the plans in the title deeds will show you the boundaries of your property, usually highlighted in red.
The ‘T’ symbol indicates who is responsible for each wall, fence or boundary. The deed may also explicitly state in words what the boundaries are, and who owns what wall/fence.
If you don’t have a copy of your deeds, you can usually get a copy from the Land Registry for £3 by doing the following:
- 1) Start from this link: https://www.gov.uk/search-property-information-land-registry
- 2) after the “start” button, enter address of property and select “search”
- 3) from “Find a property map enquiry” scroll down to below map and select “information available” next to relevant property
- 4) scroll to underneath map again and tick “title plan” (which is £3)
Not sure who owns the fence?
I’m pretty sure there have been buckets of blood shed over fence ownership disputes. I suppose it’s as good an excuse as any to kick the living shit out of someone. I’ve seen fully grown men go to blows over a two-timing skank that looked like a bag of hemorrhoids. Apparently people will literally fight over anything. But not me, I’m a lover.
Sometimes you will see a ‘T symbol on both sides of the boundary line on the deeds, which means both neighbours are responsible for the fence/wall. If the deeds don’t make it abundantly obvious who’s responsible for the fence, that could also signify it’s a “party” fence- jointly owned by both home-owners. That’s cute, right? You both get to chip in for the repairs and then part-take in a celebratory high-five afterwards. It’s a win/win.
I’ve also heard that you can call the Land Registry and they will tell you over the phone who is responsible for which side.
In most cases, if neither party can find a definitive answer, everyone is happy to split the cost.
Do you have to repair a broken fence/post?
Depends, I guess.
As a landlord, if you sold your property to your prospective tenants with a fully functioning fence in good condition, then it is your responsibility to repair and maintain it. Obviously that’s where I screwed up, I should have provided broken fences from day one! Lesson learned.
If the tenant caused the damage (which maybe exceptionally hard to prove since “weather” is always an easy scapegoat), then ultimately they’ll be responsible for the repairs.
According to this article by In-Brief (their slogan: “helping with life’s legal issues”), as a homeowner, unless the deeds contain a provision requiring you to maintain the boundaries (which I’ve read is rather uncommon), there is generally no legal responsibility on the owner of the boundary to keep it in good repair. Who knew?
For more riveting information on ownership of fences, particularly if you’re in the middle of a ridiculous full-blown dispute, I recommend checking out the In-Brief article and/or the Garden Law website (yes, remarkable, there is an entire website dedicated to ‘garden law’, which truly is a barrel of laughs– and fair warning, the website looks wholly as terrible as it sounds).
Right, so have you had anyone other than your tenant, abruptly/smugly inform you of your responsibilities? Have you had any
fascinating fencing disputes? Have you ever sat next to a complete hideous disaster with piss-stained pieces of tissues stuffed in their ears? Tell me about it!
Quick flight update: as I’m approaching the end of my blog post, the guy has stopped perspiring so is no longer soaking his sweat up. At least that was a temporary ordeal, unlike the smell of beef-stew, which is miraculously growing in density and potency. Absolutely repulsive.