My neighbour’s building overhangs our boundary wall

Property Clinic: I am a single parent and feel I am just being intimidated by my neighbours

The removal of the hedges and their replacement with a wall or fence is a breach of your property rights. It should not have commenced without your consent. Photograph: iStock

The removal of the hedges and their replacement with a wall or fence is a breach of your property rights. It should not have commenced without your consent. Photograph: iStock

 

I have issues on both sides of my house to do with the boundary. The house on my left, has built a large two storey extension which has gutters overhanging my property. A large dormer window is I think too close to my house and is not properly obscured.

A built shed at the end of their garden has its guttering overhanging into my property. They built on the boundary wall and now claim the wall separating the two gardens is theirs to do as they please with, without any consultation and often come into my garden to paint a fence they mounted on this wall. They removed a hedge between our two houses and erected a wall. The smooth side is on their side and the struts are on mine.

Now the house on the right-hand side has erected a picket style wooden fence between our gardens, having removed previous hedging and a wire fence. The smooth side of the fence is on their side, and they have left the struts on my side. They entered my garden without permission. And now are refusing to correct the fence so that I am not left with the ugly side.

I am a single parent living alone with my young son and feel that I am just being intimidated by my neighbours. Please can you advise what I can do about this?

Thank you for reading and for your consideration.

Patrick Shine writes: Your feeling of being intimidated is understandable. An encroachment and/or trespass on your property is unacceptable. I assume that the encroachments and trespass occurred in recent years and that no easements have been granted to your neighbours by you or your predecessors, or acquired by prescription, ie by long use.

It is advisable to engage a chartered planning and development surveyor as the following five aspects need to be considered:

(a) the gutters overhang (house and shed)

(b) the dormer window

(c ) the building on the boundary wall

(d) the removal of hedges and their replacement with a wall, and fences

(e) the trespass on your property

In relation to (a), (b) and (c), as it is a large two-storey extension it is likely, depending on floor area and extent of remaining open space, that planning permission was required for either the extension or the shed or for both. If so, a check of the planning register will confirm if their construction is in compliance with planning permission. The planning application form requires the applicant to provide evidence of the consent of the adjoining owner for building projections such as the gutters overhang or to build on a party (shared) wall.

In relation to (d), if the hedges were considered to be on the legal boundaries between your property and the respective adjoining properties, they had the same status as a party wall, with shared responsibility. One party cannot substantially interfere with them without the consent of the other. The removal of the hedges and their replacement with a wall or fence is a breach of your property rights. It should not have commenced without your consent.

In relation to (e), the entry by your neighbours on your property for the work carried out was a trespass. However, future entry for maintenance issues is a more complex matter. Legal advice on this must be considered in the context of the compliance and/or legal status of the work already carried out.

In normal circumstances, a property owner, if refused permission to enter a neighbouring property for necessary inspection or maintenance on his/her property, on or close to the boundary, can, under Sections 43 to 47 of the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act, 2009, apply to the District Court for a works order to carry out such inspection and/or maintenance work.

For this reason, in addition to the issues outlined above, an assessment, photographs and a report by your surveyor, detailing the circumstances as described, is necessary to enable your solicitor to give you informed advice on the best course of action.

It is regrettable that you find yourself in a position where you feel you are being intimidated and are being put to expense to try to resolve issues that are not of your making.

Unfortunately, in my experience, the issues you describe are not unusual. Until we have legislation with specific provisions, similar to the Party Wall Act in the UK (England and Wales, only), such intimidatory actions by inconsiderate neighbours are likely to continue.

Patrick Shine is a chartered geomatics surveyor, a chartered civil engineer and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie

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