Retaining Wall and unplanned land height

Retaining Wall and unplanned land height

Postby JayJ » Sun Oct 19, 2014 8:52 pm

Hi All,

I own a wall with a wooden fence top on the boundary with my neighbour, which retains the land of my neighbour's plot about 3 feet higher (Plot of my house was lowered when built in the 1990s). A new neighbour moved in and is extending the house and instead of getting rid of the rubble and footings spoils as his plans show, he has raised the land around his plot another foot or two piling it up against my retaining wall and on to the wooden fence top.

I reported this to planning enforcement on the grounds that a) He is now looking DOWN over the fence into my house, b) the wall (and fence) is now retaining more land than planned and c) There is no drainage planned - hence likely to flood over my fence into my house.

Planning enforcement have decided to say/do nothing.

I'm concerned about my wall as I am expected to maintain it, but don't see it as reasonable that neighbour can do as he see fits piling whatever he wants against it and still expect me to maintain. In the short term - the soil is now piled against the wooden fence which is sure to rot as a result and given the height disparity by the time he finishes the stop - the flood water will inevitably drain down on to my fence and plot - being 3/4 /5 feet lower than the soil.

Any ideas on what I can do to rectify situation? Needless to say neighbour has his own views and refuses to discuss.

Thanks
JJ
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Re: Retaining Wall and unplanned land height

Postby COGGY » Sun Oct 19, 2014 8:57 pm

Hi
Did the Planning Enforcement Officer visit to inspect the site and if so was it the same then as now? It seems wrong that they are not prepared to act. Do you have house insurance which might cover this?
Kind regards
Coggy
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Re: Retaining Wall and unplanned land height

Postby JayJ » Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:15 pm

Thanks Coggy,

I don't think they inspected. I asked that question of them and they have yet to reply. The plans however clearly show the existing elevations and the projected and the land height surrounding his extension is the same.

I do have house insurance with legal cover, but as you'd expect this would be so much easier if the local authority ruled on it as the plans show. If they had submitted plans for this I would have objected. I don't know if the LA are just being lazy but it has created a massive liability for me and any would be house buyers through this.

Any ideas?

Thanks again - the advice on this forum is invaluable for us folks not used to these shenanigans.

JJ
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Re: Retaining Wall and unplanned land height

Postby despair » Sat Nov 08, 2014 11:10 pm

Yojr neighbour has absolutely no right to pile soil against your wall or your fence

and is causing legal nuisance along with damage

your legal insurance should take up the issue irrespective
but if it was me i would remove the panels now and your neighbour will have to face the isdue

i woulc also contsct your local councillor so they can put pressure on the plannig enforcement guy
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Re: Retaining Wall and unplanned land height

Postby ukmicky » Sat Nov 08, 2014 11:14 pm

Take photos

If he has increased the burden on your wall you will be able to sue if the wall collapses and needs rebuilding.


Your liability for supporting his land has also greatly diminished due to his actions if you can prove what he has done.

Take photos Take photos Take photos Take photos
Advice given is not legally qualified and you are advised to gain a professional opinion
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Re: Retaining Wall and unplanned land height

Postby JayJ » Fri Feb 06, 2015 6:04 pm

So by way of update -

Council planning did nothing!

I pursued with house insurance - solicitors assessed this and they are withdrawing support as we have no immediate measurable damage to the fence and wall ! They recognise that there likely will be future damage and that there IS a legal claim, but it will likely not meet the 51% mark that satisfies the insurers.

They have offered to write a letter to put on notice of potential damage and may assist bringing legal proceedings later, downside is that there is only one letter and may appear to be zero threat to neighbour and that it is operating under legal expenses policy.

Should I instruct a private solicitor to handle at least the letter?

Any other bright ideas?

Jay.
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Re: Retaining Wall and unplanned land height

Postby MacadamB53 » Mon Feb 23, 2015 7:10 pm

Hi Jay,

Any other bright ideas?

just what is it you're hoping to achieve?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Retaining Wall and unplanned land height

Postby JayJ » Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:12 am

MacadamB53 wrote:Hi Jay,

Any other bright ideas?

just what is it you're hoping to achieve?

Kind regards, Mac


Hi Mac,

The immediate issue is that there is mud piled up against my wooden fence top which is going to damage it in the short-term, the longer-term issue is that the soil is going to contribute to the deterioration of the wall - what I'd like to do is avoid both of those or at very least make the neighbour formally aware of this and his liability to pay for remediating this if he leaves the soil against the wall. This is particularly pertinent as he is claiming that the wall is unsafe and wants it demolished and rebuilt to his idea of a safe standard!

Thanks
Jay
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Re: Retaining Wall and unplanned land height

Postby Collaborate » Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:27 am

In resting his soil against your fence he is trespassing. You can ask the court to grant you an injunction order which would require him to cease the trespass. This is however not cheap to do, and you're not guaranteed to get all your costs back even if you win. The insurer's solicitors seemingly don't think you're 51% likely to win. Have they explained why?

You should also bear in mind you still have to live next door to them.
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Re: Retaining Wall and unplanned land height

Postby JayJ » Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:25 pm

Collaborate wrote:In resting his soil against your fence he is trespassing. You can ask the court to grant you an injunction order which would require him to cease the trespass. This is however not cheap to do, and you're not guaranteed to get all your costs back even if you win. The insurer's solicitors seemingly don't think you're 51% likely to win. Have they explained why?

You should also bear in mind you still have to live next door to them.


Thanks Collaborate.

I've tried to deal with him civilly as has my wife and he unleashed a stream of f*ckig this and F*cking that and somewhat provocatively then piled pipes\planks against the fence 10 mins later. He also in a somewhat cack-handed way thinks that the wall is dangerous and will try to get external agencies to force a rebuild. (It's fine btw)

I don't want to take this to court, but I want to caution him that he would be responsible for any damage as a result of his actions as inevitably it will be damaged and I am sure he would then claim that nobody had made him aware and further that it would seemingly add to his justification that the wall was unsafe. In the same situation if instructed by a solicitor I would remove the soil so as to remove by liability and I was hoping that this would bring him to his senses - which is why I feel I am duty bound to put this on record despite the need to live next to him. I also am unsure what he is going to do next to the wall - as he seems to think it's his to do what he likes and I will pay for its maintenance!

The trouble with the house insurers is that effectively they are no-win\no-fee and argued that although there is a case for a quia timet basis claim - anticipating future damage, the courts are reluctant to enforce these unless there is a severe or imminent damage. Thus - long term erosion of a wall is not a 51% prospect to and ambulance chaser! The fence is being damaged now, the wall will take longer.

Any ideas or similar experience?

Jay
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Re: Retaining Wall and unplanned land height

Postby Roblewis » Fri Feb 27, 2015 10:49 pm

I would simply remove the fence pro temp and see what transpires. You have no obligation to support any overburden he has created. Get your Local Councillor involved. Also now he has raised his land you could start a fence height measurement from there
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Re: Retaining Wall and unplanned land height

Postby JayJ » Wed Mar 11, 2015 9:24 pm

Roblewis wrote:I would simply remove the fence pro temp and see what transpires. You have no obligation to support any overburden he has created. Get your Local Councillor involved. Also now he has raised his land you could start a fence height measurement from there


Thanks Rob - local councillor is very sympathetic but powerless. I have taken a panel off temporarily to do some repairs and I estimate that the soil is piled up over 8 inches on to the wooden panel plus the 5 or so courses of bricks in height. I'm going to hand it to a solicitor to sort this out now as the guy's a clear mentalist and undoubtedly this is going to damage the fence and wall which he will claim ignorance of when it has occurred.

Am I right in thinking that he will have to prove that his trespass has not damaged the wall rather than the other way round? A normal person landed with such a legal letter would I assume do something about it, but this creep will I know just leave it - so I am thinking best to be prepared for it with this approach for when the inevitable damage is done right?
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Re: Retaining Wall and unplanned land height

Postby COGGY » Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:46 am

Hi
I am not clear whether or not you have sent a letter to the neighbour stating that he is damaging your property and is responsible for this. You should send a letter asap by recorded delivery, keep a copy of the letter and print a copy of the receipt signed when he receives the letter (from the web page).

Kind regards
Coggy
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Re: Retaining Wall and unplanned land height

Postby ukmicky » Thu Mar 12, 2015 11:46 pm

He is using your wall / fence to retain his land without your permision. Him doing so will reduce the life of the wall and could allow him to gain rights over your wall in the future and a court would grant an injunction ordering him to stop if requested.

If you wanted damages for what he has done however you would find it a lot harder to win over the court and gain anything worthwhile.
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