Fences damaged by neighbour (WA) - Letter of Demand

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Dart 77

Active Member
11 July 2021
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Hi All and thanks for any input.

In WA we have HardiFence which is compressed concrete sheets in a wave profile and tin capping on the top. It has now been phased out in WA and only ColorBond Fencing is available. I have owned this property for over 23 years, the Hardi Fences on one side, while not perfect, are (were) in good serviceable condition, until the new owner next door smashed through both fences on a quad bike he was racing around on, on New Year's Eve. He smashed through our dividing (common) fence as well as smashing my own fence on the other side. He also damaged gardens on both sides of my fence (not a common fence) which divides my front yard and back yard. No apologies were heard.

Can I claim money from him for damage to the garden? I want $300 for the damage to the garden. It is very upsetting and stressful and one of the Monsterias was around 13 years old, as well as other plants trampled etc when him and his mates patched up the fences temporarily. But how can that cost be proved or justified, even though it is small?

I have already sent him a letter in his letterbox and his GF (via her email) some fence quotes and a friendly sort of reminder, and a few months ago I went ahead and paid for a new Colorbond fence to replace my own fence. He has seen it, but 8 months later he has not said anything or responded but he did mumble something about giving me some money for it during a chat over the fence once, but nothing so far. They both work, he is an electrician so money would not be the issue. She didn't even answer the email I sent which had a table I made up with three fence quote comparisons. Prior to crashing into these fences, he also damaged the common fence some months previously when removing some large gumtrees which were right on our fence line. And didn't tell me about it, although I knew straight away.

To complicate matters, he has gone ahead and butchered a tree of mine that was partly over his fence and not at all a danger (trunk was vertical to the fence) and didn't even have the courtesy to inform me first or leave me any of the branches which I said I wanted for firewood. Prior to this, a rotten branch came down in his backyard and I gave him a $100 cash to pay for petrol to take the foliage to the dump. I have been generous and easy going about this whole thing but he has taken full advantage of it.

I am now arranging Debt Collection Solicitors to have a Letter of Demand sent for my costs in erecting a new fence (my fence, not the common fence - that is a separate matter, yet to be resolved).

My questions are, should I send another letter at the same time detailing why I am seeking reimbursement of costs? It would include my observations of his lack of communication, what he had done, his responsibilities and other things. The formatted LoD doesn't allow for explanations, just sets out the costs being sought.

And what happens if he only pays half, or only one instalment? It's only $1300 being sought, so if he only pays say, $500, is it still worth it to initiate court?

Finally, what about the common fence that he has damaged twice? Should I have to pay any contribution to that? It wasn't new and a bit uneven, but perfectly serviceable as a fence.

Thanks for reading.
 

Rod

Lawyer
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27 May 2014
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You have good questions best answered by your solicitor.
 

Atticus

Well-Known Member
6 February 2019
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It's only $1300 being sought, so if he only pays say, $500, is it still worth it to initiate court?
Not sure engaging a solicitor @$400 odd an hour plus paperwork is really going to be worth it.... Have you considered just a DIY via the WA small claims court starting with a letter of demand? It's fairly well explained at >>> Civil Matters
Finally, what about the common fence that he has damaged twice? Should I have to pay any contribution to that? It wasn't new and a bit uneven, but perfectly serviceable as a fence.
That should fall under the fences act & again can be a DIY >>> Dividing Fences
 

Dart 77

Active Member
11 July 2021
5
0
31
Not sure engaging a solicitor @$400 odd an hour plus paperwork is really going to be worth it.... Have you considered just a DIY via the WA small claims court starting with a letter of demand? It's fairly well explained at ....
Thanks for the input Atticus. Yes I have thought about that a lot and was researching the actual process. There is a legal firm here in Perth that has a section that specialises in debt collection, but they said it's usually more aimed at trades people and contractors trying to recover their money. They send a Letter of Demand on their own letterhead paper to the debtor who is asked to pay the legal firm, who then pay the client - with no fees attached. It's only about $42. They did say they can send one for me but just to be sure (because I am totally in the dark about legal affairs) I booked in to see one of their solicitors/lawyers for 30 min, which was $198, to ask him some questions about the situation. I wasn't overly happy with the service as I don't feel he gave it his full attention; I felt like I was intruding a bit and wasting his time. I only got about 15 minutes of talk time - the other minutes I was charged for would have been in him reviewing the background story / information I sent prior. However, right at the end (to my mild surprise) he did offer to send a letter to the neighbour informing him that I had been to see him (the solicitor) and had discussed the matter. The letter mentioned possibility of court but that I was aiming at mediation first to keep relations amicable etc. So that's all part of the legal fee I paid. I can't really expect more that that.

So I suppose that may make the neighbour sit up and take notice and I have decided to also send my own letter to the neighbour by registered mail, which I have read is the first step in this sort of situation. I will explain my side of things, his total lack of interest or communication and contemptuous behaviour. I will word it so it doesn't sound aggressive but allows him to see his own failings and hopefully he will do the right thing and at least talk about it. He's only about 24 and an electrician, so he's talking and dealing with all sorts of different people every day, so the only reason he has not made any effort with me is either he is taking my easy going nature to full advantage hoping I'll let it slide, or has just taken a dislike to me. Whatever, he's going to have to face his responsibilities sooner or later.
 

Dart 77

Active Member
11 July 2021
5
0
31
You have good questions best answered by your solicitor.
Not helpful! I spent 30 minutes writing out that post for that meager reply. However I have read some of your other replies and many of them are very helpful and informative so in this case, I'll just have to run with it.
 

Rod

Lawyer
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27 May 2014
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I am now arranging Debt Collection Solicitors to have a Letter of Demand
When people say they have a solicitor involved who has access to all the facts, not necessarily just what you posted, I don't want to contradict the advice you are paying for.

Based on your post you have a very good case and should receive compensation as a result of your neighbour's actions. The demand letter is always the first step, court second if the the neighbour doesn't pay.
 

Atticus

Well-Known Member
6 February 2019
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My guess is your neighbour will keep hoping this goes away & ignores you until it becomes clear that he can no longer avoid it... A letter of demand threatening civil action if he does not pay the damages you are seeking within x number of days will hopefully be enough. A letter coming from a solicitor may carry more weight if you can justify the added cost to yourself....If he ignores that then follow through with a civil claim. Highly likely that he will then get real about it & you can agree to something in pre hearing mediation.