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    Former MSE Debs
    Real-life MMD: Should I pay for my neighbour's plants?
    • #1
    • 21st Feb 13, 1:01 PM
    Real-life MMD: Should I pay for my neighbour's plants? 21st Feb 13 at 1:01 PM
    Money Moral Dilemma: Should I pay for my neighbour's plants?

    I recently paid for a replacement garden fence. Even though it's a shared fence, I didn't ask my neighbour for any contribution towards the cost. The work was completed to a high standard and I was pleased. Later my neighbour said the workmen had pulled up and thrown her plants away. I imagine some plants might have been flattened in the process, but she insists I pay for replacements. I've spoken to the company and they've assured me it didn't happen, but I feel as though I should just pay for her plants to keep the peace. Should I?

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    Last edited by Former MSE Debs; 26-02-2013 at 4:29 PM.
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  • mayling03
    • #2
    • 26th Feb 13, 7:01 PM
    • #2
    • 26th Feb 13, 7:01 PM
    Difficult one. How long did she wait to bring this to your attention? What types of plants are missing and what are the inidividual costs involved? She can't prove it was you, and the sub contractors say it was them.

    You can offer her something as a goodwill but only if you must.
    • Petlamb
    • By Petlamb 26th Feb 13, 7:14 PM
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    • #3
    • 26th Feb 13, 7:14 PM
    • #3
    • 26th Feb 13, 7:14 PM
    I think the other thing here is the question of how your relationship is with your neighbour - if things have always been really good, it'd be a lot to lose over a few plants. If they're a perennial (da-dum-tish) whinger who's always griping about something, maybe less so?

    I'd also be inclined personally to ask for a list of plants that need replacing and get her them were I to replace them - otherwise I have a nagging doubt a few extra quid might get added on?
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    • Zed42
    • By Zed42 26th Feb 13, 7:19 PM
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    • #4
    • 26th Feb 13, 7:19 PM
    • #4
    • 26th Feb 13, 7:19 PM
    It's a shared fence, but you took it on yourself to replace it, without asking for a contribution ... or even her agreement ?

    It sounds to me like if you had done that, you would have been able to have a discussion about any plants which may be involved in the changing of the fence.

    Then, you took it on yourself and with that come consequences ...

    I would say for the sake of keeping a peaceful neighbourhood, then, you two need to come to some arrangement whereby you are both happy, and yes, that probably means you buying some new plants.

    However, it doesn't mean being taken for a ride either.

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    • cjw
    • By cjw 26th Feb 13, 8:21 PM
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    • #5
    • 26th Feb 13, 8:21 PM
    • #5
    • 26th Feb 13, 8:21 PM
    Sorry but she watched you having a new fence put up which she'll benefit from, not offering you anything towards it. Now she's asking you to replace her plants. Say to her, "Ok, I'll replace them, but here's the bill for your half of the cost". I'm she will go away quietly.
    • Mojisola
    • By Mojisola 26th Feb 13, 9:50 PM
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    • #6
    • 26th Feb 13, 9:50 PM
    • #6
    • 26th Feb 13, 9:50 PM
    Sorry but she watched you having a new fence put up which she'll benefit from
    Originally posted by cjw
    How do you know she watched?

    She might have gone out one day and come home to find the new fence in place and lots of her plants flattened and/or pulled up.
    • pennypinchUK
    • By pennypinchUK 26th Feb 13, 10:26 PM
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    • #7
    • 26th Feb 13, 10:26 PM
    • #7
    • 26th Feb 13, 10:26 PM
    Your neighbour has started the battle, so they're clearly not interested in maintaining the peace. (If they wanted to maintain the peace they'd simply not say anything.)

    So if neither you or the contractor believe any plants were destroyed (and your neighbour can't prove any are missing) I suggest you hold your ground, and don't pay for any plants. If your neighbour approaches you again, just smile and ask them if they like the new fence, and of course remind them they didn't contribute to it's cost.
    • kerri gt
    • By kerri gt 26th Feb 13, 10:43 PM
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    kerri gt
    • #8
    • 26th Feb 13, 10:43 PM
    • #8
    • 26th Feb 13, 10:43 PM
    I'd tell her that you've asked the contractors and they say they didn't throw away any plants. You didn't ask her for a contribution to the new fence - although was it in such a state of repair that it did need replacing?

    Ask her what plants she thinks they've thrown away - and perhaps give her a garden centre voucher as a peace offering, but I would also point out to her that she has part use of a lovely new fence that cost a lot of money and she had not been asked to contribute towards.
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    • telsco
    • By telsco 26th Feb 13, 11:18 PM
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    • #9
    • 26th Feb 13, 11:18 PM
    • #9
    • 26th Feb 13, 11:18 PM
    Act all concerned and say you were not made aware of any problems at the time, but should she want compensation then she needs to contact the fence company direct as you personally did not go anywhere near her plants and so cannot be held responsible.
    I assume the fence company is insured for such a thing and so your neighbour should make any claim against them.
    • OverlandLandy
    • By OverlandLandy 26th Feb 13, 11:21 PM
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    Buy her a packet of seeds...tell her to grow her own ... as you are working on a new for old basis
    it is probably all you can afford as you just had to shell out for a new fence.
    I am NOT a Woman! - its Overland Landy (as in A Landrover that travels Overland):rolleyes:

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    • oldtrout
    • By oldtrout 27th Feb 13, 1:12 AM
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    Your neighbour obviously isn't bothered about keeping the peace with you by 'insisting' that you pay for replacements, but it is worth sorting amicably.

    I would ask the neighbour for a list of the plants which need replacing and their estimation of cost. Then I would do my own estimation of cost. What you do next is probably dependent on how much it is. If minimal, you may want to pay. (I wouldn't pay at this stage because I think this is a matter of principle).

    I would then ask a member of the fencing team to accompany me to the neighbours, without giving the neighbour too much notice (quick phone call?), and ask to survey the scene!

    Check off the list of plants. Half of them won't even be out at this time of year anyway, so they may just be dormant. Take it from there!
    • roses
    • By roses 27th Feb 13, 4:37 AM
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    Lol, are you my neighbour?

    It depends on how much she is asking for but you damaged her plants so yes you should pay up.
  • juggsy
    I'm trying to look at this from the other perspective, and if I had a brand new fence put up and hadn't paid for it, but had some of my plants ripped up in the process, would I ask for replacements?

    I think I'd discuss it with you and see what had happened to the plants, and if the workmen are denying anything happened to them I'd probably suck it up and sort it out myself as I have a nice new fence which no doubt cost a bit. So that being said I do think she is being a bit petty.

    I think you need to tell her the workmen have stated that they didn't pull any plants, but calmly and collectively. Make it a discussion rather than an argument or debate, and see what she says/does from there. Hopefully that will be the end of it. But if she goes on then she is the one not keeping the peace, however at no point should you ask her to pay half of the fence as I assume you didn't ask her to initially so this was your choice. Instead remind her that you have paid a lot of money for mutual benefit so would she mind dealing with the plants herself.

    If she still complains, then what you do depends on whether you want to stick to principle or keep the peace, because at the end of the day there's not much worse than being at odds with your neighbour. Perhaps you could buy her a hanging basket for the fence as a compromise?
    • moneyistooshorttomention
    • By moneyistooshorttomention 27th Feb 13, 8:20 AM
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    The thing that I've noticed is that no-one has mentioned that just because the workmen say they havent ruined/pulled up any of her plants doesnt mean to say that that IS actually the case.

    The workmen would almost certainly deny having done anything to the plants - even if they know very well that they have done so. A workman who actually admits doing any damage is a very rare beast imo.

    I would be inclined to believe the neighbour that the workmen HAVE caused damage. From own personal experience, I have noticed a neighbours workmen getting bits of rubbish into my back yard on a couple of occasions and getting paint on some of my plants on another occasion and they've never admitted it to me and don't seem to have told the neighbour concerned what they had done either.

    Which just leaves the question of the fence. Maybe the fence is joint responsibility of both owners, maybe not. I know that the garden wall one side of my back yard is mine only and the other side is the neighbours only and I rather thought that it was the norm that people own one side and not the other, rather than having joint ownership of one or both of their "sides".

    So, I would think that the fence (be it old or new) is solely owned by one or other of the houses. Thus, if OP decided to replace the fence then it must be because SHE is the sole owner of this fence and therefore no contribution would be due from the next door neighbour anyway.

    If there is a different arrangement in place to the normal one to this road and all side fences are jointly owned then I think that is quite unusual. In case of such an unusual arrangement being the case in this road, then it could be the case that the fence would be defined as "in need of replacement" by one person (because they like things up to a really high/as new standard), whilst someone else might say that it only needed replacing if a substantial part of it was actually broken and therefore not in working order. We don't know exactly what condition that fence was in - was it totally broken or just a little bit tatty?

    But, lets assume that the fence really IS jointly owned and really was in totally broken-down condition - even then the OP should have asked the neighbour if they agreed to having it replaced and could afford to pay 50% of cost. If the neighbour wasnt asked, then they are not liable for fence costs.

    Whatever the situation is - the OP should believe the neighbour rather than the workmen and, accordingly, replace the plants.
    Last edited by moneyistooshorttomention; 27-02-2013 at 8:28 AM.
    • Hezzawithkids
    • By Hezzawithkids 27th Feb 13, 8:29 AM
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    I find it hard to believe that the company putting up the fence would deliberately rip up anyone's plants in the process let alone a neighbours. If they were any good at their job then they could have done it without any damage. I think your neighbour is trying to pull a fast one here. Does she still have the ripped-up plants? Did she just watch them doing it without saying anything to them?

    Talk it over with her calmly and rationally, you've already paid to have the fence replaced I don't see why you should be any further out of pocket.
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  • hana-chan
    There's a few posts saying that the neighbour is pulling a fast one - which might be the case - but a similar thing happened to my mum from the other point of view. This might not be representative of what happened to the poster, but may give a different perspective...

    One of her neighbours, without warning, decided to replace an ajoining fence and we came home halfway through to find the fence in pieces all over our garden and workmen trampling over the flower beds. Not a nice surprise. I don't know if the poster warned the neighbour in question, but this in itself is quite alarming when not expected! (Secondly, the neighbour made a mistake - it was not a shared or their fence, but actually owned by my parents!)

    Seeing the destruction that these builders caused (to both established plants as well as some that had just started to grow from seed) it doesn't surprise me if some were damaged in this case. Of course the builders are going to say they didn't damage any, but did you bother to check before work started what was there, or ask your neighbour if there was anything they should particularly be careful of?

    It was your choice to replace the fence - did you ask the neighbour if they wanted it replaced or if they wanted to pay some towards the cost? Certainly if you were my neighbour and you took it upon yourself to rip out and install a new fence which I owned 50% of (and are you sure that this is the case, it seems unusual that one of you doesn't own the fence in the deeds?) without asking me, this in itself would make me very angry, let alone any damage caused by the work!
    • moneyistooshorttomention
    • By moneyistooshorttomention 27th Feb 13, 9:02 AM
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    I find it hard to believe that the company putting up the fence would deliberately rip up anyone's plants in the process let alone a neighbours. If they were any good at their job then they could have done it without any damage. I think your neighbour is trying to pull a fast one here. Does she still have the ripped-up plants? Did she just watch them doing it without saying anything to them?

    Talk it over with her calmly and rationally, you've already paid to have the fence replaced I don't see why you should be any further out of pocket.
    Originally posted by Hezzawithkids
    As per post above - the fence is almost certainly NOT jointly-owned and therefore OP was due to pay 100% of cost of fence anyway.
  • Jackz
    we went through the same process with a neighbour - only we were the ones who did not want an ugly concrete fence - it went ahead anyway - the neighbour paid for it but the company cut through our beautiful huge heart leafed ivy and trashed it completely - cut off at the roots and partly dug out and as we were away it died off - we kept quiet as we did not want to fall out with our neighbour and covered our side with wooden fencing - cost us hundreds and to replace the plant would have been a huge amount of money but it did come out a few weeks later before we put the wood up and he was quite upset about it all and apologised profusely.

    the mess the company left on our side of the fence was unbelievable and several other plants were trashed but the ivy broke my heart having nurtured it for 15 years from a twig!

    so yes a company could do this and not confess anything - so depends on how much you value your neighbour .....

    get a list of plants from her if you value her and peace and send some flowers to put in a vase as well !

    not everyone would be as forgiving as we were and it truly hurt.
    • Hermoine
    • By Hermoine 27th Feb 13, 9:42 AM
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    • 150 Thanks
    You don't make it clear whether you had any conversations with the neighbour beforehand before doing this work. If you did, then presumably you had an opportunity to discuss how it was going to be done, and any potential damage to her plants. So, if she can demonstrate that there is any damage/gaps/missing plants, you should repay her and get monies back from the fencing firm if possible. If you didn't, then she is within her rights to be very cross about it, and you should err on the side of generosity when compensating her for the plants. Its actually quite hard to put up a fence without treading on the ground on both sides of it, and if she has plants growing up against it or near to it, there is a pretty good chance that they might be damaged. And if you're a keen gardener, growing plants up against a fence is usually quite important. And if you weren't around to watch, the fencing company might be a bit economical with the truth. I had some fencing put up at the back of my last house, and was mortified when I discovered the company had thrown the old fencing into the alley between my garden and the garden of the people backing onto mine.
  • florere
    I also think it unlikely that the fence is jointly owned, we are not told whether the neighbour was consulted before the new fence was put up. They might have liked the old fence, had plants growing on it etc. etc.
    If you employ builders you are responsible for any damage they do, so find out what the plants were and get replacements for them, and then try to claim the cost back from the builder, but as they deny doing any damage, (it must be very hard to put up fence without doing some damage,) I think you will be wasting your time. The only other thing you can do is, not to recommend them to your friends.
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