My neighbour’s extension is encroaching on my property. What should I do?

Property Clinic: Planning permission doesn’t mean they can encroach upon your home

Where a boundary dispute arises, be sure your surveyor’s report documents details of each stage of your neighbour’s actions including relevant dates

Where a boundary dispute arises, be sure your surveyor’s report documents details of each stage of your neighbour’s actions including relevant dates

 

Do laws in the UK differ to laws in Ireland? My property is in London. My neighbour has built his extension over my garden wall at the rear of the house. This is a semi-detached property. He insists that the garden wall is his. They continued with the building work during lockdown and also built a parapet between our two houses. They did not serve a correct party wall agreement. They have also built over the front garden wall which is in my driveway. Yet again they said that they have planning permission to do this. This has weakened the lower part of the wall which now has cracks.

I have been in touch with our local council, however they say they are not able to help me. I also engaged a boundary surveyor and in his report he has mentioned that my neighbour has trespassed on either side of their semidetached property. On one side they have built over the garden wall and incorporated it into their living room. They have also built a parapet between the two semi-detached properties and cemented over my single-storey rear extension roof tiles. They have built a double-storey side extension, the guttering of which now over hangs my alleyway. What are my legal rights in this matter as they are not paying any attention to the findings of the report I commissioned. I suspect they want to put me in a position where I feel compelled to go down the expensive route of taking them to court.

Patrick Shine writes: The Party Wall Act, 1996, which applies to England and Wales only, was enacted specifically to set out procedures for carrying out the type of work you describe. Ireland does not have a party wall act but Sections 43 to 47 of the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act, 2009, provide for access to an adjoining property to carry out inspections, and a wide range of works, in relation to boundary and boundary proximity issues.

The Party Wall Act, 1996, is specific and prescriptive. It provides a framework for preventing or resolving disputes in relation to party walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings. Anyone intending to carry out such work (building owner), as described in the Act, must serve a minimum of two months’ notice on their neighbour, of their intentions. It must be served even where the work does not cross the legal boundary, i.e. centre line of the party wall. If the adjoining owner does not give written agreement or register dissent, within 14 days, the 1996 Act provides for both parties to appoint an agreed surveyor, who should act impartially, or for both parties to appoint their own surveyor.

The surveyor/s, will then draw up a document detailing the work to be done and setting out details of how and when it is to be done. It also records the condition of the wall/structure prior to the work and provides for access to the adjoining property for necessary inspections and work. This document is known as a Party Wall Award. Under the 1996 Act, a building owner must have a Party Wall Award before commencing work unless the adjoining owner has given written agreement to the proposed work. The Act provides for an appeal to the county court, within 14 days, against an award.

The above synopsis of the relevant provisions of the 1996 Act is intended to provide you with a context in which you can assess the actions of your neighbour. Your legal rights appear to have been breached, and the provisions of the 1996 Act ignored at each stage of the work. You will need legal advice, especially as your wall now has cracks and his gutters have encroached. But prior to this you should discuss the surveyor’s report with the surveyor and ensure that it documents details of each stage of your neighbour’s actions including relevant dates. It should include factual details of all contacts between you and your neighbour concerning the work. Planning permission, if he has it, does not permit him to interfere with your property. Your surveyor should check the planning status, especially question 24 of the application form which details a requirement for a certificate of ownership concerning the affected property.

You should document details of your communication with your neighbour, and his actions, to assist your surveyor. It is advisable that your surveyor is a chartered member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

A detailed surveyor’s report is essential in order to enable your solicitor to provide you with informed legal advice.

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

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.