Boundary Wall Ownership

Boundary Wall Ownership

Postby Rowan22 » Mon Aug 04, 2014 3:16 pm

The boundary wall to the right of our property is in disrepair and needs repointing quite urgently as large chunks have started to fall off it! Our house deeds do not indicate who owns it (no T or H marks).

We are fairly certain that the wall belongs to our neighbour and just want to check where we stand before we approach them to ask them to repair it. We only moved in a year ago and have had very little to do with them so far. We are not assuming there will be a dispute and are quite willing to pay half if it does end up being a party wall but obviously don’t want to pay unnecessarily and need to be prepared for what to say if they dispute it.

Our house is a Victorian end of terrace. The neighbouring house is detached and of a similar age though slightly different construction. The wall runs the entire length of the boundary between our properties and is Victorian brick of a similar age to the houses. There is a difference in level between our properties, so the lower part of the wall in question also acts as a retaining wall. Our property is on the higher level.

Some relevant points:
• Their garden is large and square and the wall in question extends around both sides and rear boundary of the garden. It has original, narrow, triangular Victorian coping stones that are different to any other walls nearby so are quite distinctive. Our garden is long and narrow with different boundary types on each side. The left hand boundary (with our terrace neighbours) is fenced and the end boundary is the gable wall of another house.
• We also have an original Victorian wall to the front of our house but the coping stones are different to those on our neighbours walls (ours are triangular but much longer). There is also a section of wall at the end of our garden which bridges a small gap (approx. 3 ft) between the gable end of the house at the bottom of our garden and the rear, right hand corner of our neighbours plot. The coping stones on the top of this short section are the same as the ones on our front wall (so we are assuming this short wall is probably ours)
• There is a fairly large lean-to shed on their side of the wall that is built as an integral part of the wall (not added on later). It has the same clay roof tiles as their house.

To my untrained eye, especially with the coping stones and lean-to shed as clues, it seems likely that their house and this wall were built first as one complete unit, and that our terrace of houses was added uphill at a later date.

Sorry for the long post but we are wondering what options would be open to us if our neighbours are uncooperative or if there is a dispute over ownership.

Is there anywhere we can go to get a copy of their deeds to see if they do indicate ownership? Would the fact of the coping stones, shed and general layout indicate that it is theirs and if so, who decides this?
If they accept ownership but won’t mend it. Do we have any right to demand a safe structure? We have a side passage giving access to our rear garden from the front and have found large, heavy chunks from the wall on this path so it is a concern.

Obviously the first step is to talk to our neighbours, which we are planning to do this week. But I will appreciate any ideas or advice in the meantime. It will make me feel more secure in our position when we ask them to repair what we are assuming is their wall.

Many thanks!
Rowan22
 
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