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Falling Off the Garden Wall

(26 Posts)
ExD Mon 13-Apr-20 10:51:34

My garden borders a lane much favoured by walkers, and people self isolating here in their holiday homes, and is bordered by a low wall with stone slabs along the top.
Children love to walk along the top and I don't mind at all as we have few children passing by in normal times.
But these are not normal times and the number of human traffic has increased to there being an almost continuous stream of walkers passing by. (Many, I'm sure, out here in the country in contravention of the new 'rules') OK, who can blame them as long as they don't let their dogs worry the livestock?
More and more fathers are lifting their little ones onto the wall to let them run and jump, and it is fun for them, but the slabs are coming loose and wobbly now.
My question is:- if one of those children falls off and is injured, am I liable for compensating the said family who are, to all intents and purposes, trespassing in my garden?

Elegran Mon 13-Apr-20 11:07:19

I don't know the legalities of this, but the safety aspect is there too - they could get hurt. Could you put containers of plants along the top of the wall at intervals to discourage them?

GagaJo Mon 13-Apr-20 11:13:45

Aren't you protected if you have signs up?

You could put an 'Unstable Wall! Do not climb.'

Teacheranne Mon 13-Apr-20 11:19:44

I suspect you are liable under third party insurance. We had a similar problem with a low wall at my mother's house, very popular with passing school children walking on it. Her insurance company said that it was her responsibility to repair it and simply putting a sign up was not sufficient. In the end we replaced it with a low fence.

I like the suggestion of putting some plant pots on it.

gillybob Mon 13-Apr-20 11:23:13

What about some of that hazard tape you can buy (kind used by contractors or at a crime scene) . It’s cheap as chips. Stake on the other side of the wall so you can’t see it and run the tape along . As GagaJo said maybe warning signs at intervals would be a good idea too.

Swizzywhiz Mon 13-Apr-20 11:26:04

Yes unfortunately you are legally liable if someone is injured.
Excellent advice about putting plant containers along it or maybe railings when this is over.
Could you plant ivy or honeysuckle against it so the top would be covered by vegetation ? We had the same problem with the front wall of our terrace, in this case kids sitting on it and talking. We planted laurels right along the wall and as they grew they covered the front of the wall.

Sussexborn Mon 13-Apr-20 11:29:11

We have five steps down to our house. One was a bit deeper than the others. We were told we would be liable if anyone fell. We had to get the steps reconfigured. £££££££!

Do you have a way of covering with thick plastic and add a warning sign about lose slabs. Perhaps some of the qualified legal eagles will have more to add.

GagaJo Mon 13-Apr-20 11:33:00

Yes, maybe a combination then. Pots, signs, tape. Make it inaccessible.

Surely though, a wall isn't for walking on? So if someone walks on it, they've actually trespassed on your property? Different to a path or steps OR if the wall spontaneously fell on them.

sodapop Mon 13-Apr-20 12:28:34

Warning signs do not in themselves have any validity in law but with other precautions it would prove that you were taking due care. The plant pot idea is a good one and hazard tape.

eazybee Mon 13-Apr-20 12:53:08

I think you would be liable. I remember a case about a family who had a swing in their garden; a child trespassed, used it and was injured but the family were held liable because it was accessible.(I think the child climbed a wall).

NotSpaghetti Mon 13-Apr-20 13:27:15

Yes. My father had a similar wall and asked the question of his solicitor. If the law hasn't changed in the last 30 years, you are liable.

Callistemon Mon 13-Apr-20 13:37:51

It doesn't seem fair, does it. Is no-one liable for their own actions any more?

If you have fairly heavy plant pots or troughs and can heft them up there, that would be a good idea, along with the hazard tape. Could you get someone to do this for you without having to get near them?

I was just thinking that small, light plant pots could be moved or even lifted.

loopyloo Mon 13-Apr-20 14:00:44

A low wall near us was covered with plastic spikes to stop people sitting on it while they waited for the bus.

CherryCezzy Mon 13-Apr-20 14:00:47

We live on a lane and have a wall which is the boundary of our house. It has got damaged by children along with our fence, but largely because of footballs being kicked at it. Yes you would be liable, one parent gave me a mouthful when a piece of brick came away and dropped on her son's foot. She didn't pursue the matter, she did also give her son a rollicking. A local PCSO I know suggested that we put plastic meshing up. That has worked.

Oopsadaisy3 Mon 13-Apr-20 14:06:32

If you put pots on the wall and they fall off (or are knocked off) and harm somebody then you are probably going to be liable for that as well.

Callistemon Mon 13-Apr-20 14:12:06

Oh dear, fraught with danger!

Hazard tape then.
They may think it is a virus area.

Or ivy.

TrendyNannie6 Mon 13-Apr-20 14:14:19

I would be very wary of putting plant pots on top of the wall, yes they could stop the children walking on the top. But what if they fell off and hit someone.. I’d put plastic spikes on top no one will walk on there then, so no one will get hurt,

moggie57 Mon 13-Apr-20 14:16:20

how about a bit of wire netting .or put a notice on the wall please do not allow your children to walk on the wall as it not safe..........

readsalot Mon 13-Apr-20 14:22:33

We had a long, low wall at the front of the house which was used by many people to perch on. When it became unstable we had it rebuilt higher, with pointed stones on top. Cost money but needed doing anyway and looks much better.

Septimia Mon 13-Apr-20 14:42:34

Wouldn't it be better to get some cement and fix them in place? Some diy stores are delivering or doing click and collect.
Then you'd have a permanent solution.

Calendargirl Mon 13-Apr-20 15:08:11

But what if someone touched the plastic spikes and somehow hurt themselves on them?
Daft, I know, but more liability for home owner.
If people walk on or touch things on other folks property, it should be their own fault, and no one else’s.

GabriellaG54 Mon 13-Apr-20 20:52:18

I'd put a laminated sign on a prominent place saying
'Anyone climbing or walking on my wall does so at their own risk.
The slabs are not fixed in place and you may slip or fall.
This warning applies to parents who allow/ enable their children to use the top of the wall as a walkway.

Elegran Mon 13-Apr-20 21:04:07

Or possibly drape it in hazard tape and add a notice saying -

Previously we have not minded if children walked on this wall, but because so many have done so recently, several of the stones have become wobbly. Please don't allow your child up on to it - as soon as we can get someone to mend it we will, but until then -

1) we are not responsible for any injuries that they may suffer if they slip on loose stones.

2) we will hold anyone who allows a child to continue to walk on it as responsible for any further damage, and will send them the repair invoice.

GabriellaG54 Mon 13-Apr-20 21:19:46

That's a bit ridiculous. Why state that you previously didn't mind children walking on it, fixed or not?
You may open yourself to blame if a child then walked on it even the slabs were fixed in place and fell/slipped, by obliquely mentioning that the wall would be safe when 'mended'.
It isn't public property and you have limited duty of care if people decide to do something that is not usual ie: vaulting a hedge or wall instead of using the gateway. Walking on a wall which has a clear notice warning of loose stones not to be walked on.
If the person was on your property for a valid reason, postman, deliveries etc, then you are a point, depending on the actions of the allowed 'trespasser'.

GabriellaG54 Mon 13-Apr-20 21:23:04

...and how are you going to know just who walks on it and loosens the slabs so that you can bill them for damage?

The above 2 posts are to Elegran