We Have Returned from Holiday to find Neighbours have Removed Fence Panels and Built a 2 Metre High Wall – Where do We Stand?

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

Our neighbours have removed 2 panels of fence on a joint boundary (deeds do not state who is responsible/owners) whilst we were on holiday and built 2 metre high block wall in its place without consulting us. We don’t want this wall because it’s very close to our extension walls. The fence panels allowed ‘elbow room’ to inspect wall and drain pipes and were removable to allow a bit more room for minor maintenance/repairs. Now there is just enough room to squeeze down but not to turn, bend or carry out any work if required because of the solid wall. We will not be able access the lower 2 metres of the wall. Also we don’t know if the join to the main wall of our house where our 2 houses are connected has a damp proof or not. Our concerns are :-

  1. Are they allowed to do this if they jointly own the boundary?
  2. Are we  allowed to knock it down?
  3. Should they have given Party Wall Notice?
  4. If they should have what do we do now its completed?
  5. As it poses a risk for possible damage to our property e.g. damp how can we make them liable?
  6. Are they liable for any surveyor or legal fees because they didn’t use the Act?

Answer 

To run through your queries in order:

  1. It depends on the position of the wall. If there was only a fence on the boundary before then your neighbour did not have the right to build a new wall astride the boundary without your consent. They do have the right to build a wall up to the boundary but entirely on their own land.
  2. I would not advise you to knock down. You should start by formally requesting that your neighbour abates his trespass (if that’s what it is).
  3. You should have been served with a Line of Junction Notice whether the wall was astride or up to the boundary.
  4. As the wall is now complete the Act is no longer relevant although the fact that they ignored the Act will go in your favour if the matter ends up in court. This is now a civil dispute between neighbours.
  5. Answered above.
  6. Not under the Act but you may be able to claim professional fees if this ends up in court.