Neighbour is Demanding £500 for Access

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

Eight years ago my mother bought a house which had planning permission to build a double garage with bedroom above adjoining her house. The previous owners had built the garage but not the first floor bedroom above. The garage has its gable wall built parallel and about a foot away from the blockwork boundary wall between my mothers house and her neighbours. My mother owns the boundary wall.

My mother decided to continue with the build and had the first floor bedroom built. At this time her neighbour complained about it saying his permission was never asked for. My mother pointed out that the extension had full planning consent and she was entitled to finish the works. Which is what happened.

However, when it came to rendering the gable wall the neighbour would not allow the contractors access to his land to erect scaffolding unless my mother gave him £500.00 and asked him personally. Although my mother tried in vain to let her have the works finished he bluntly refused, and asked for £500.00 again.

Its been 5 years now and the gable wall has exposed blockwork and is not rendered which leaves the blockwork exposed to the elements. I also do not think that a Party Wall Award was issued by the previous owners or my mother.

Where does my mother stand? Is she entitled to get contractors to access his land to render her wall? She is a little scared of him at this stage and just wants the matter dealt with. How should she proceed?

Answer

The building of the first floor extension would not have been a party wall matter but the flip side of that is that there was no right of access under the party wall Act. The Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992 will not help either as that is only for the ‘preservation’ of an existing structure as opposed to access to a neighbour’s land in order to make it easier to construct a new building.  

It is an unusual set of circumstances that has led to this problem, and not something that happens very often, but unfortunately I think your Mother will have to come to an agreement with the adjoining owner if she wants access.