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wingrovebuyer, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 737
Experience:  I am a property solicitor specialising in English Property Law, mines and minerals, sporting rights and rural property.
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I moved into my Victorian terraced house over a year ago and

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I moved into my Victorian terraced house over a year ago and I now want to put in a loft extension. Examining the outside of the rear of my property, I see that my next-door neighbour's soil stack comes out from under their extension, which is adjacent to the back of my house, and the soil pipe travels up my rear wall, through my eaves and through my tiled roof. It is entirely on my land and this pipe will be in the way when my loft extension is built. Also, my neighbour's toilet's overflow extends through their wall and outflows onto my land. I want to put a small extension to my kitchen, eventually, and their soil stack would then be going through my kitchen and their overflow pipe would stick into my kitchen and any water from it would come onto my future kitchen floor.
What is the legal situation with this? Can I insist that they replumb their soil effluent pipe as well as their cistern overflow pipe? My builder says it is possible but it would cost, of course.

wingrovebuyer : Hello. How long has the neighbour's pipe work been in place please? Presumably it was done before you bought your house?

Yes, it was done before I bought my house and I believe the next-door extension was in place before my neighbours bought their house. I am on good terms with these neighbours and they have indicated previously to me that their extension was there when they moved in. I have mentioned my up-coming loft extension and they have said that is fine with them. A couple of days ago I gave them the Party Wall Agreement to sign but I haven't received it back as yet. I haven't discussed the soil pipe with them as I thought I should find out the legal situation before speaking about it.

wingrovebuyer : Thanks. I would expect that when the neighbours extension was done they agreed with the owners of you house that the pipe work could be put in as it is. The planning authority wouldn't really have paid much attention to that aspect - they don't consider private rights etc, only planning policy. If there was a formal agreement, such as a deed of easement, for the pipes it should be mentioned on your deeds. If the owner of your house gave permission, but no formal document was completed, it is likely that the permission was personal, and wouldn't benefit a subsequent owner. However, if the next owner maintained the pipes in place without permission for in excess of 20 years, the law will infer an easement to have arisen, giving the neighbour the legal right to have their pipes on your property. The problem here is knowing the history of it all, when neither owner was involved in the Original arrangements. However, if the pipes have been there for 20 years plus, you may have to accept (in the absence of any evidence of permission being granted) that the neighbours now have the right to keep their pipes on your property.
wingrovebuyer : Of course, that doesn't stop you from discussing moving the pipes to allow your extension.
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