We own a property beside a large playing field which we rent out in Southport. 5 months ago the local council had begun demolishing and rebuilding the adjacent building to our house on the playing field site, unknown to us. We live about 45minutes travel time away from Southport and had just been abroad. We received a text message from the tenants to say: do you know about the garden? We didn't know, but the council had demolished our 45 foot shared boundary, made up of a 3 foot high wall, topped by a 4 foot fence allthe way along. They had cordoned off our garden and were using it as part of their building site. The tenants were unable to use the garden at all fortheir young children. It would have been unsafe for them even to have been outside at that time. They had thrown the fencing panels on to the lawn in untidy piles, and the grass was yellow underneath. There was other damage and issues along with this incident. We estimate that our claim should be in the region of £30,000.We approached a local solicitor 5 months ago, but he seems to have spun the case out and nothing is as yet anywhere near resolved. Indeed, it seems to be more confused than ever. We asked for a no win no fee basis and asked for his hourly rates, so that is the impression that we are under, that his fees will be added to the claim. However, we have now lost our tenants as a result of all this, and are losing money on a daily basis. What can we now do to speed things up?We'd very much appreciate your advice and guidance.Regards XXXXX XXXXX Polly
Province/Country relating to question : Lancashire, UK
Letters from the solicitor
Qutoes for the rebuilding work
1. From what you narrate, you need a more aggressive solicitor or else you need to impress upon the solicitor you are employing the need for action. You are currently suffering losses for which there is no mechanism in place for you to recover from the Council. Generally, you should have got your solicitor at the outset, when the building work commenced, to agree to compensate you for disturbance and any losses you suffer. At this stage, you need to threaten to sue over the losses you have suffered and the need for immediate compensation. Normally the neighbouring building owner will have reached an agreement at this stage. YOur bargaining power with the Council will be less should the works be complete, as then any disturbance will be over.
2. At this juncture, I would ask your solicitor to issue proceedings for the loss and damage you have suffered, including the loss of your tenant and removal of your wall and fence. At this juncture, you need to obtain a quote for the cost of reinstatement and the landscaping of your garden. Claim for all losses. When you have the proceedings issued, then seek to meet the Council to discuss their plans to compensate you. However, I fear that as you have not sued, the Council have adopted a "continue work and see what happens" approach where they are blind to your disturbance. Accordingly, you need to be more assertive of your rights.
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1. How would we stand if we appointed another, more aggressive solicitor?
1. How do we stand if we appoint another more aggressive solicitor?
2. Would we be better starting the courts process ourselves? 3. We still have leverage with the Council, as their adjacent neighbouring works cannot be finished until the reinstatement of our boundary takes place. They have had to leave temporary security metal fencing in place along the boundary, otherwise our property would be open to vandals and intruders. 4. We have already hired 2 skips and labour to remove the old fencing and plan to pass on these costs. What can we claim for the loss of the tenants, as a nominal loss we would prefer to claim for an amount such as 3months rents, say, rather than actually have to wait and see how long it takes. 5. Can we claim for the hassle factor, our time involved in travelling 1 1/2 hours each day to deal with the whole process?
3. There is no difficulty in appointing another solicitor to act on your behalf. You will either need to pay off the first solicitor or get the second solicitor to give an undertaking that the first solicitor's fees will be discharged from any monies recovered. Secondly, I would advise you to get legal assistance in starting the court proceedings. This is unfamiliar territory for you and you will more than likely recover costs in any legal action, so I would suggest you get legal assistance here. Thirdly, you can claim for loss of a tenant and then quantify that loss at the time of settlement or else at the time of hearing of your action. There is little point in limiting your claim at this stage. Fourthly, the law recognises loss of executive time spent on dealing with a matter. However, you would have to keep timesheets and be paying yourself an hourly rate to justify this. Otherwise, hassle is a non-compensatable occurrence.
Thank you for your reply, it is very helpful. 1.Can you advise on choosing a solicitor who would be suitable in terms of experience and more aggressive in pursuing the case? 2.Would that same solicitor be the one to start the court proceedings? 3. Do we have to have a figure in mind to tie in with the type of court process, eg, £5k-£25k and over £25k banding or do we not bother about that at this stage? (we have calculated a figure of £30,000 so far) 4. What would be deemed a reasonable hourly rate?
4. I will have to direct you elsewhere as to your choice of solicitor. You should look in your local paper and see what solicitors are doing this type of case. You should use this solicitor to do all the case, including commencing court proceedings. As to hourly rate, you should enquire before you agree to hire a solicitor. As to quantum, you should rely upon your solicitor and barrister to advise you on how much you are entitled to. It is a little early to be considering this issue
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We have one last question and then we will Accept if that's OK:
When the solicitor tells the council he is going to sue, has he already taken steps in this direction?
Barrister 17 years experience
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