We Cannot Afford to Repair Our Garden Wall.

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

My question relates to a party wall that was made of concrete blocks and has fallen down after 40 years – their were no footings for the wall and therefore insurance would not pay. Our neighbours who share the party wall live behind and slightly above us. Their garden is about 5 feet higher than ours so now we have a vertical drop with nothing to support it other than a line of trees close to the edge of their garden.

We have had some quotes and agreed on one which would costs us both £1,000. Our neighbours are panicking that the trees and soil may collapse into our garden and insist we build the new wall as soon as possible. At this time we do not have this money spare and said we would try and come up with it during the summer months.

After one week our neighbour appears to have lost patience and has bought in a surveyor and tells us via telephone message that he is going to serve a party wall notice.

Answer

If the wall is in shared ownership and has fallen in to disrepair your neighbour can force you to pay your share of the repair/rebuilding costs. They would need to serve notice under section 2(2)(b) of the Act.

The costs of work which is the subject of notice under section 2(2)(b) is defrayed according to section 11(5) of the Act. That section says that if one of the owners is responsible for the defect then they should pay for the repair. If the owners cannot agree responsibility then it will be up to the appointed surveyor to decide.

Follow-up

I don’t know how they would get the money – would they have to take us to court?. We could prove that we are severely stretched financially and may even have to sell the house to pay out £1,000.

Answer

Yes, they could take you to court to enforce the surveyor’s award. Bear in mind that you would also be responsible for half the surveyor’s fees which could add a few more hundred pounds.