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Neighbour's lean to causing problems

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Hi, last year my neighbours constructed a monstrosity of a lean to down the side of their house with a centimetre between it and my house wall. At the time, my mother was in and spoke to them (she lives with me) and they assured her it was all fine and they'd checked permissions, etc. As we have a good relationship with them, we didn't see any reason to raise objections at that time. The lean to very narrowly (like I said, barely a centimetre) doesn't touch our property. However, if we wanted to get the wall repointed, there is zero access to it.


Recently, the bad weather and excessive rain has caused significant damp down that side of the wall where we've never had it before. And when examining during a rain storm, the lean to is directing a flow of water towards that wall. I got a builder in to examine and he climbed over to have a look - his assessment was that the lean to was causing excessive water to hit that wall and cause the damp.


Can you advise me of the best way to go about dealing with this? Having spoken to the neighbours, it's clear they are not interested in helping - they have just stood firm that they have a right to put it there and that's that. I called the council and they weren't very helpful, so I think the next port of call is my insurance company, but I would be interested if anyone has any knowledge of the legalities of lean tos and how the boundaries work.




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I believe they aren't permitted to let water from their property discharge onto yours and this is obviously happening if it's going straight onto your wall. Even if the boundary is your house wall they should have left enough space to fit guttering and connected it to a suitable discharge point on their own property. When you say the council aren't interested which department have you spoken to? If you can get to speak directly to a building control officer you might get more joy.

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I don't know what the planning rules are about this kind of structure. I suggest that you start contacting your local authority and raise issues there.


In terms of the effect on your property, if you want to go to a County Court then you would start an action for nuisance.


Nuisance is the tort dealing with the wrongful interference of enjoyment inland. A rather old way of saying that the activities of somebody else – your neighbour in this case – is carrying out an activity which is affecting you in a negative way.


Make sure you get lots of photographs – in the dry and in the rain. Also, get written reports from builders or anybody else.


The easiest thing to do of course will be to your local council involved if you can find that any regulations have been breached. That might save you a load of hassle. On the other hand, involving the local council and getting them to take action is probably a very long drawnout process.


Starting an action in the County Court would be relatively quick but but of course the main purpose of your litigation would be to get an order to stop the nuisance. This means that in principle you would have to start what is known as a "part eight" claim which is slightly more difficult than the ordinary small claim.


However, if you have suffered some damage to your property which needs repair, then another way forward might be to sue for the value of the repair. That should be quite easily winnable and if the nuisance continued, then to sue in nuisance to obtain an order of the court.


Suing simply for the value of the repair would be very straightforward and would be a small claims.


The best thing to do course would be to sue for the compensation and the order at the same time. In view of the possible long-term nature of this construction and of the effect on your property, this would be the best way to go.


I don't think there is any necessity for you to involve the expense of lawyers. If you're prepared to do the research and the reading around then you can do it yourself.


Begin by contacting the local authority and also carry out relevant Internet research.


Finally, act quickly and very positively. Don't get drawn into protracted discussion or negotiations. Don't settle for half measures. Don't forget, once you formally accept something then it will be very difficult to go back on it.


You have already suffered because you have hung around trying to be polite and keep good relations with your neighbour. You can see that this doesn't work. The best thing to do is to be absolutely straight dealing with the other side and to get sorted out so that at the end of the dispute, the air is clear and everybody knows where they stand.


Your neighbour may not forget it for a long time – but at least the whole thing will be cleared up and you won't have a problem any more

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We just recently had our car port replaced and had to have it reduced in width by about 12 inches so that the guttering is inside our boundary line.


On the old car port the guttering was along the boundary line but rainwater could overflow on to the property next door (even though it is just land).


So as advised, I think you are going to need to speak to the planning department of your Local Authority in order to establish the exact regulations..

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Guest roaringmouse

With the lack of detail, I have to make a few guesses and assumptions here. But I am assuming that their lean-to is sloping towards your property and thus rainwater needs to discharge into guttering which would then be discharged itself into a soak away on their land and NOT added into existing rainwater drainage. At present it sounds as though it is simply pouring from their roof onto your wall and this will cause major problems very quickly. So act FAST.


You seem to have a good relationship and it is best to maintain that BUT this is exactly the kind of thing that can lead to problems.


Speak with the neighbour nicely. Tell them EXACTLY what the problem is and tell them they will have to make adjustments to the roof in order to allow space for guttering which needs to remain on their side of the boundary entirely. Now, there are two outcomes. They will see your problem and adjust accordingly or they won't. In the case of the latter at that point bring in the council environmental health and building regulations immediately.

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there is case law that deals with this and it is Rylands v Fletcher of 1868 (HL). basically a landowner is responsible for water discharging from their land or property so you can sue for damages as a result of this.

Your problem is getting decent proof that the runoff from their roof is causing damage and if you are certain the council may use their powers of enforcement to get some remedial action or the lean to removed or you may sue them and they will have to keep paying you until they learn their lesson.

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