Neighbour’s Builders Used My Wall While I Was in Bed With Swine Flue

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

My new neighbour’s builders asked if they could use the party garden wall between our properties as the side wall of an extension. I agreed but didn’t fully understand their intentions. They added to the height and length of the wall (from 1.8m high to 2.8m high and from 3m long to 3.5m long) while I was ill in bed with swine flu. When I was able to get out bed I realised that the wall now appears to be wholly my neighbour’s property.

I would like a solicitor’s letter from him stating his recognition of the wall as a shared wall as I’m now worried that a potential buyer of my house will be worried about who the wall belongs to. He has said that my rights haven’t been infringed and intends to do nothing about the situation. In addition to him using the wall as I’ve explained, the roof of the extension takes the full width of the wall (as seen from above) and has been finished with a plastic strip about 20cm deep which is actually on my side of the wall on my property.

As I verbally agreed without understanding exactly what the builders intended to do (the owner wasn’t there and can’t prove what was said) but the extension is now finished is there anything I can do to ensure that shared ownership of the wall is clear?

Answer

Your neighbour should have served you with a Party Wall Notice before using what was shared garden wall. You would then have had the option to give your written consent or dissent and appoint a surveyor.

If notice was not served and the wall has now been built there is nothing that can be done under the Act at this stage.

However, that does not change the status of the wall. If it was a shared garden wall (a party fence wall) before then it is now a party wall and can be used by you as part of a future building although there may be some compensation due under section 11(11) of the Act if the wall was re-built, raised etc.