Claim of money disproportionat against the works carried out

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how_much
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Claim of money disproportionat against the works carried out

Post by how_much » Wed Dec 13, 2017 3:40 pm

Hi Guys,

Pleased to meet you all.

I have been reading through some of the threads on here but cant seem to find the answers/advice im looking for. Hope you dont mind me starting this thread.

My situation is that my house water supply comes from a 'well' (i'll call this the Spring Water System) on my neighbours land. This Spring Water System has required works to upgrade it, to bring it in line with current regulations. The works were required due to a notice served on my neighbour and me. For some reason my neighbour blamed this all on me, stating no one else around here has had to do this. This is where the relationship (which wasnt the best anyway) has completely broken down.

The works were carried out without any consultation or discussion with me, nor were any quotes provided. Which from what i've read on here, my neighbour is within his right to do ie its his land and he can do the works off his own back.

The problem im facing is I have now received a letter from his solicitor for a claim of £3000 for the works, which they say is half of the total cost and i need to pay this within 28 days or my neighbour will take action which may include court action to recover the costs and also to cut off my water supply by way of injunction. Enclosed in the letter is a piece of paper with peoples names on it(i'll call these the Contractors) and next to their names there is a cost for labour and materials. Nothing else.

The total cost of the works they claim ie £6000 seems completely disproportionate to the actual works that were carried out. I have friends and family in the building trade and they have estimated the costs to be more like £2000 in total. I think my neighbour is trying to financially benefit himself here. Also to note is that all of the works were carried out by his friends or family.!!! :roll:

So, I have looked at the covenants on my title and regarding the Spring Water System it says: the following rights are granted subject to contributing a reasonable proportion calculated according to user of the expense from time to time incurred with maintaining, repairing and renewing the same

So, my position is had the claim for the money been reasonable and not massively inflated and if my neighbour had been reasonable and let me know about what works he was doing in the 1st place, then I would be happy to contribute a fair , reasonable share towards the upgrade works and or possibly have helped out myself to save on costs.

However, from a legal pov ie the wording in my title, I am wondering if i even need to contribute at all as the works carried out were to upgrade the Spring Water System and not maintain, repair or renew what already existed ie there is no mention of upgrade or create new in my title

Im thinking that if i reply back and say i dont have any obligation to pay at all due to the wording in my title but im willing to pay X amount, will this suffice? At least then if he replies and doesnt accept i can show i tried to be reasonable. I also was thinking of adding in that I will instruct an independent surveyor to provide a realistic quote should he not accept my offer and claim for these costs.

Thoughts???

Thanks guys.

Collaborate
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Re: Claim of money disproportionat against the works carried

Post by Collaborate » Wed Dec 13, 2017 6:02 pm

You are still at the information gathering stage. I suggest you call for a full copy of the works schedule, referenced to the current amended regulations. The schedule should break down the associated costs, and contain copies of all invoices (you must check the VAT reference numbers if any). You can then approach another builder to consider the works specifications and they can tell you what a reasonable cost would have been.

You then need to put to them the hypothesis that keeping the well up to current specifications doesn't fall within the covenant. I happen to think you're wrong on this point.

how_much
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Re: Claim of money disproportionat against the works carried

Post by how_much » Wed Dec 13, 2017 6:43 pm

Hi Collaborate,

thanks for the info.

So before i commit anything , get some more info in the way of invoices and schedule of works?

Why do you think i am wrong about my interpretation of the covenant?...im not saying im right by the way :)

The Spring Water System that existed at the time that the covenant was put in place (when i bought the house) is now almost completely separate to that of the new/upgraded Spring water system. The only relation between the old and the new is that the old 'well' now fills a new plastic water tank. New pipes now run from this plastic tank to both houses. The old pipes from the well to the houses has been turned off.

I should mention, i have had 2 letters from my neighbours solicitor to date. The 1st letter came more or less straight after the notice was served for the above works (and before the spring water system works had even started). I was intending to install a downstairs toilet which my neighbour was aware of and I needed to create a 'new' connection into the existing drains, which are on my neighbours land (next to my boundary). I have a right as per my title deed saying i have a free and uninterrupted right to the passing of foul water through the foul drain pipes from the Property and through the retained land and the right to enter upon the retained land to maintain, repair and renew the drain pipes.

Neighbours solictor said i cant make a new connection to the exisitng pipes as i only have a right to drain/use what existed at the time the covenant was granted and that there is no wording that permits creating a new connection only to maintain etc. So im saying there is no wording in my covenant thats says i have to contribute towards an upgrade /new spring water system.

Yes im playing devils advocate and I guess its all down to a persons interpretation of the title document...but if you cant beat them, join them!

jonahinoz
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Re: Claim of money disproportionat against the works carried

Post by jonahinoz » Wed Dec 13, 2017 7:08 pm

Hi HowMuch,

It sounds like your water supply and sewerage use the same well? OK, they probably don't, just asking.

Has the water from this well been tested to confirm it is pottable (is that the right word?)

How much will it cost to connect to mains water? How much will it cost to drill your own well? How much will it cost to establish your own foul-water treatment system? I think there are advertisers in "Build it" magazine, and "Self Sufficiency" and "Home Farm" magazines, if they are still published. And there is always Google.

Are there any "grants" available, should you lose your "not-mains" services?

Financially, I think there is some procedure for depositing a reasonable sum of money with the court. If the judge finds that this is sufficient to cover the cost, the Plaintiff will be unable to recover costs. Hopefully somebody here will be able to explain that better.

John W

how_much
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Re: Claim of money disproportionat against the works carried

Post by how_much » Wed Dec 13, 2017 7:24 pm

Hi jonahinoz

The water is fit for human consumption.

I dont have the funds to connect to mains - it will cost 10s of 1000s.

I cant drill my own well...possibly drill a bore hole...very expensive though.

Own water treatment system...expensive.

Id be happy to pay a reasonable amount for the upgrade to the spring water system but if my neighbour wants to play games and pluck numbers out of thin air then I may be backed into a corner and have to fight fire with fire.

Collaborate
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Re: Claim of money disproportionat against the works carried

Post by Collaborate » Wed Dec 13, 2017 11:04 pm

I think the works they've done come under the category of renewing the system.

how_much
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Re: Claim of money disproportionat against the works carried

Post by how_much » Thu Dec 14, 2017 10:14 am

Collaborate wrote:I think the works they've done come under the category of renewing the system.
Hi,

Which is fair enough...but i would then expect that they have no right to stop me upgrading/renewing the drain pipe system ie the outfall from a toilet into a drain pipe where I have a right to drain into...would you agree?

Collaborate
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Re: Claim of money disproportionat against the works carried

Post by Collaborate » Thu Dec 14, 2017 5:04 pm

how_much wrote:
Collaborate wrote:I think the works they've done come under the category of renewing the system.
Hi,

Which is fair enough...but i would then expect that they have no right to stop me upgrading/renewing the drain pipe system ie the outfall from a toilet into a drain pipe where I have a right to drain into...would you agree?

You'd have to post the precise wording of your easement.

jonahinoz
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Re: Claim of money disproportionat against the works carried

Post by jonahinoz » Thu Dec 14, 2017 7:34 pm

Hi HowMuch,

It's fun spending other peoples money, so I "done a Google" .... http://www.synergyboreholes.co.uk/water ... ndex/cost/

Yep, expensive, but is it worth it to distance yourself from your neighbours demands? Personally, I would be wary about buying a property that relied on an amicable neighbour for it's water supply.

OT ... it wasn't the six-gun that won the West, it was all those little wind turbines pumping water.

Alternatively, you could agree to pay your neighbour's demands ... provided the terms of the covenant were re-written under the auspices of your solicitor. Is that feasible? Get it written in stone ... but expect to pay an annual fee.

John W

how_much
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Re: Claim of money disproportionat against the works carried

Post by how_much » Thu Dec 14, 2017 7:58 pm

I wouldnt mind paying for the upgrade of the spring water system if they were actually realistic...but its like my neighbours are trying to make me pay for all of the works by stating they cost £6000...which is completely disproportionate to the works that were carried out. The more I think about this is and what Collaborate said above, why hasnt my neighbours solicitor sent the actual invoices etc etc as im sure as a solicitor he will know this is required if they want to make a claim for monies.

The wording for both the Spring water System and the foul drainage system is: the following rights are granted subject to contributing a reasonable proportion calculated according to user of the expense from time to time incurred with maintaining, repairing and renewing the same.

I have been denied the right to connect into the existing drain as my neighbours solcitior says there is no wording in the title that states I can make a new connection. I could say I am upgrading the drainage system just like you upgraded the spring water system

So with this in mind im thinking of saying in response to neighbours solicitior that there is no wording in the title that states I am to contribute towards an upgrade.

Im no solicitor but this seems to all be down to interpretation of what words actually mean ie Maintain, Repair, Renew, Upgrade.

Collaborate
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Re: Claim of money disproportionat against the works carried

Post by Collaborate » Thu Dec 14, 2017 10:07 pm

You've posted the conditions your drainage easement is subject to, but not the easement itself, so no one can comment on your rights.

how_much
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Re: Claim of money disproportionat against the works carried

Post by how_much » Fri Dec 15, 2017 1:55 pm

The right to free and uninterrupted passage and running of foul water and sewage from the Property through the drainage pipe which is in the retained land and the right to enter with or without workmen tools and equipment on the Retained land for inspection maintenance renewal and repair ther upon giving the transferor or his successor in title written reasonable notice except in the case of emergency and the person or persons exercising such right to making good any damage caused without delay.

would an upgrade be classed as an improvement?

MacadamB53
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Re: Claim of money disproportionat against the works carried

Post by MacadamB53 » Fri Dec 15, 2017 2:09 pm

how_much wrote:The right to free and uninterrupted passage and running of foul water and sewage from the Property through the drainage pipe which is in the retained land and the right to enter with or without workmen tools and equipment on the Retained land for inspection maintenance renewal and repair ther upon giving the transferor or his successor in title written reasonable notice except in the case of emergency and the person or persons exercising such right to making good any damage caused without delay.

would an upgrade be classed as an improvement?
so there’s a drain pipe that runs from your property then over the retainer land - you can connect what you like to the pipe on your land to pass foul water and sewage on, but you cannot upgrade the pipe on his land or connect anything directly to the pipe on his land.

ukmicky
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Re: Claim of money disproportionat against the works carried

Post by ukmicky » Sat Dec 16, 2017 5:53 pm

So the legal starting point under the easement and covenant is the burden imposed onto your property cant be increased beyond that which you had previously without your permission. If you had no water holding tank before they cant put one in now without your permission because the burden on your property has now been increased .

But, If you have been issued with a statutory notice saying you must improve the system or stop using it then in order to keep using the system so it supplies you both with water your neighbours have ultimately done what in the end had to be done. So now as you were not involved in the decision making process you need to find out is what he has done beyond that which was reasonable and is the cost of those works reasonable. So as collaborate has said gain the schedule of works etc and look around to see what the average cost of such works is.

Before you get that far however you need to see if the works were necessary ,did you have to update the system or could it have been left as it was.

Can we see the details of the noticed that was served on you and your neighbour. Remove anything that identifies you ,your neighbour or your properties.

His solicitor is correct in that you cant make a new connection from within his property but can from within yours if that is possible.
Advice given is not legally qualified and you are advised to gain a professional opinion

Collaborate
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Re: Claim of money disproportionat against the works carried

Post by Collaborate » Sat Dec 16, 2017 9:53 pm

I agree with the others. Connect to the pipe from a point within your property. You have no right to run a new pipe over their land.

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