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wingrovebuyer, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 714
Experience:  I am a property solicitor specialising in English Property Law, mines and minerals, sporting rights and rural property.
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I purchased a semi-detached property in August last year, and

Customer Question

I purchased a semi-detached property in August last year, and it has recently been brought to my attention that my adjoining neighbour has encroached over the boundary line.

I had a survey carried out prior to purchase and necessary searches carried out by my solicitor, but not once was this existing encroachment, or any previously served Party Wall Notice (or consequent agreement by the previous owners) brought to my attention prior to completion.

According to the plan, there is a T symbol stating that I should have responsibility for the wall between our two gardens. However, instead of a boundary fence or wall down the length of the garden, the garage wall makes up part of new boundary (on our land according to the plan), with a brick wall built from the houses up to the side of the garage.

It appears that the wall spanning the distance from the houses up to the neighbours garage may have been constructed at the same time as other building work on our property (a disabled extension and the opposite party wall)

The garage is very tall and unsightly, and blocks out the entirety of the sun into my garden during late afternoon/evening. In addition, and as a result of the garage, the wall that was built up to the side of the garage is also taller than I would like and sloping unevenly.

As it would appear I have responsibility for this separating wall, I would ideally like to demolish it and replace it with a nice level wall mirroring that built on the other side of the garden. In doing so, I would like to correct the encroachment issue and follow the proper boundary line as shown on my plans. However, to do this, my neighbour would need to possibly demolish the rear of their garage, and if necessary rebuild it within their own land.

What are my rights, and what can I do next? Did completing my purchase without disputing this encroachment essentially count as my consent for it? How do I find out whether a Party Wall Notice was served to previous owners (he is now dead), am I correct in thinking that the neighbour built the garage illegally if they did not, and can they be forced to remove it if this is the case? Does the fact that the garage has existed for a while, mean that the neighbour can somehow claim ownership of the land now and therefore alter the boundary? Do I now have to just stick with living with the situation as is?

Apologies for many questions, but this is a rather complex issue! Thanks in advance for any help!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: UK Property Law
Expert:  wingrovebuyer replied 2 years ago.

wingrovebuyer : Hello. If I read this right, your basic question is whether or not you can correct the position of the wall to reflect the legal boundary as per the title plans? The wall is yours (I agree that the T mark demonstrates this). Is this correct? If so, can you tell me how long the wall and neighbours garage have been in place?
JACUSTOMER-f33c2o60- :

Pretty much, and I suppose just to get an idea of what rights I would have to go about correcting it.

Unfortunately I am not sure how long the garage has been in place as I have only owned the property since last August. However, it is visible on Google maps street view (image dated October 2008) which is when my extension and walls would appear to have been built, but the garage itself appears older.

A neighbour whose garden backs onto mine (who pointed the issue out to me whilst discussing our boundary fence) mentioned that the person who built the garage was allegedly a 'cowboy builder' who just chucked them up one day with a blatant disregard for any encroachment caused, or a deliberate intention to encroach and take advantage of the fact the previous owner of my house was disabled and unlikely to notice/stand against him. It was unclear from our conversation whether he was saying that this person was a previous owner or the existing owner though.

JACUSTOMER-f33c2o60- :

If this was the case, it would seem likely that a Party Wall Notice would not have been served, so would this make the building illegal? Or would that depend on how long it has been erected for? It would be a shame if we would no longer be entitled to claim ownership of some of our land due to such underhand tactics - especially considering the neighbours garden is much bigger than mine to start off with - so I would like to hold on to and re-claim to every little bit I have paid for!

wingrovebuyer : Hi. Sorry for the delay. It's a it late now, so I'll reply properly tomorrow.
wingrovebuyer : Hi.
wingrovebuyer : The lack of a Party Wall Act notice would not make the building illegal, unfortunately. The Act really only deals with liabilities etc.
wingrovebuyer : If the garage has been in place for a significant period of time, it is possible that the owner has acquired the encroached-onto land by adverse possession. That will depend on when it was built and whether or not your property was registered at Land Registry when the relevant limitation period was reached. Would you say the garage is older than 25 years?

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