Shared wall and old toilet dispute?

by Readers Question

8:44 AM, 10th July 2018
About 4 months ago

Shared wall and old toilet dispute?

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Shared wall and old toilet dispute?

We live in a small 2 bed terraced house. It had an old toilet in the yard that goes back to back with our neighbour’s. Our roof had cave in and it wasn’t big enough to store kids toys or anything so we decided we wanted to remove it.

At the same time we were going to render the back of theirs and render all our walls. When we took our old render off as it was all cracked and the bricks were that bad underneath that a builder told us it could not be rendered and it was barely staying up on it’s own this was the same for the neighbour’s old toilet.

He came up with the idea to knock all our walls down and put fencing up instead. We agreed. When he looked at the neighbours old toilet he said this isn’t safe it needs to come down. We spoke to the neighbour’s landlord and at first she was adamant it wasn’t coming down she blamed us for ruining her walls and old toilet building.

We’ve said we will cover the cost of it all even though in the deeds it’s a shared wall but she’s not helping to agree to a solution. She’s now saying we can take her old toilet building down, but we do all the work. We can put a fence up, but as the out building was in the corner of her yard it will affect the back wall of her property so we should cover the cost for that to be renewed as well and if the concrete of the floor of her yard is any different she wants us to put it right, even though the rest of the concrete is all cracked with weeds growing through.

I think she’s being unfair as the old toilets were built when the property was built in 1902. I have a four year old and want to get it rectified asap, but she’s not helping.

What can I do?

Fadz



Comments

Kate Mellor

9:19 AM, 11th July 2018
About 4 months ago

Hi, I’m not a lawyer or anything, but as a homeowner I’d be tempted to just advise her in writing of what the builder has advised and stipulate what you are proposing to do and pay for. Spell out that you aren’t prepared to cover the cost of x, y or z and that if these were the only terms on which she’d accept your proposal you will leave her to it, but she has now been put on notice that the building is unsafe and should it collapse and cause death or injury to her tenant or anyone else she will be negligent in her duty of care and may be found criminally liable. Explain that you have no option but to leave the ball in her court and you will simply make good to the party wall and fence the boundary. Copy her tenant into the letter. I imagine her tenant will not be thrilled.
You might also suggest to the tenant that she take up the matter with the council (if you have genuine concerns for life and limb I mean). The council have the power to slap the landlord with an improvement notice if the structure is genuinely and obviously dangerous.
If it’s possible I’d just do what’s needed to prevent the party wall collapsing onto your property and then fence behind it or use something to screen it off from view. If that’s not possible and you’ve had no joy with the letter or tenant/council angle your only option is filing for a court order to have her take down the outhouse because there is foreseeable harm in the tort of nuisance. She has a duty of care to prevent foreseeable harm to her tenant and also to her neighbour. That would of course involve paying a solicitor & getting a structural report on the outhouse (expensive).

No one wants to go to court, so perhaps a solicitors letter before action, pointing out that there is a possible action against her for not complying may get her to agree to your terms. Especially if you’re offering to do most of the work for her.

Wyn Burgess

8:19 AM, 14th July 2018
About 4 months ago

Could use the 1996 Party Wall Act to serve Notice on next door on your intention to demolish the party wall, surveyors should award that next door pays ½ but it wil likely be expensive in professional fees - builders are far cheaper than surveyors!

Nick Pope

18:37 PM, 14th July 2018
About 4 months ago

I agree with Wyn that this is a Party Wall Act matter. It might be expensive but as the loo building building is defective a party wall surveyor might suggest that both of you pay as there is an argument that the neighbour has failed to maintain as well.


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