Retaining wall responsibility.

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CherryBlack
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Retaining wall responsibility.

Post by CherryBlack »

Hi all.

This isn't my situation, but for someone else. I know about the generalities of retaining walls - it's the responsibility of whoever's land needs to be retained, unless the retaining need arises from the neighbour excavating away land from their side. This might be the case here.

These are houses privately built by different builders around 60 years ago. My friend's house IS higher than their neighb's, and there IS a retaining wall that retains their garden between them. This 60-year old wall is, however, fully on the neighbour's side of the boundary, was built by the neighbour's builder at the time of the house build, and in a brick style matching that house - it is pretty clearly all the neighbour's. The owner doesn't know what groundwork was carried out at the time to change the general ground slope to accommodate the houses. It is seemingly very clear, tho', that the retaining wall was built by the neighbour's builder at the time of the house build.

Fast forward, and this wall - single skin - is failing, and 'newish' next door neighbour is telling my friend that the wall needs rebuilding, and it's my friend's responsibility. The deeds indicate that this boundary is MF's 'responsibility', but only in the usual general 'responsibility' terms, and not in relation to it being 'retaining'.

No prob - MF has had an SE design a proper retaining wall - twice as thick - and is willing to pay for it all, but was expecting the neighbour to allow it to straddle the boundary, half on each side. Wee problem - the neighbour wants the whole wall to be on MF's side, so MF will lose around 10" of garden width. This is a bit of an issue as the gardens aren't very wide, so a few inches does matter.

I have to say, having been told about this, my hackles raised a bit. A few things pop out; (a) the current retaining wall is very clearly on the neighb's land, was built by the then-neighb's builder, matches the neighb's house, and was very possibly/probably carried out to allow a level plot for the neighbouring house. (b) The newish neighbour bought their house presumably accepting the existing garden width, which has been like this since the house was built 60 years ago. (c) MF was fully prepared to have a new wall put in, to the correct spec, at no cost to the neighb.

Thoughts, please?!

Mine are that (1) there's every chance MF could rightfully claim that the retaining wall is fully the neighb's responsibility if she wanted to. (2) The neighbour is being selfish/churlish to not compromise on the straddling, given the situation. (3) If MF proceeded on the terms insisted on by her neighb, she can at least insist the neighb demolishes the existing wall - which is clearly theirs - and clears it away! :-)
Collaborate
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Re: Retaining wall responsibility.

Post by Collaborate »

CherryBlack wrote: Sat Jun 25, 2022 9:06 am Hi all.

This isn't my situation, but for someone else. I know about the generalities of retaining walls - it's the responsibility of whoever's land needs to be retained, unless the retaining need arises from the neighbour excavating away land from their side. This might be the case here.

These are houses privately built by different builders around 60 years ago. My friend's house IS higher than their neighb's, and there IS a retaining wall that retains their garden between them. This 60-year old wall is, however, fully on the neighbour's side of the boundary, was built by the neighbour's builder at the time of the house build, and in a brick style matching that house - it is pretty clearly all the neighbour's. The owner doesn't know what groundwork was carried out at the time to change the general ground slope to accommodate the houses. It is seemingly very clear, tho', that the retaining wall was built by the neighbour's builder at the time of the house build.

Fast forward, and this wall - single skin - is failing, and 'newish' next door neighbour is telling my friend that the wall needs rebuilding, and it's my friend's responsibility. The deeds indicate that this boundary is MF's 'responsibility', but only in the usual general 'responsibility' terms, and not in relation to it being 'retaining'.

No prob - MF has had an SE design a proper retaining wall - twice as thick - and is willing to pay for it all, but was expecting the neighbour to allow it to straddle the boundary, half on each side. Wee problem - the neighbour wants the whole wall to be on MF's side, so MF will lose around 10" of garden width. This is a bit of an issue as the gardens aren't very wide, so a few inches does matter.

I have to say, having been told about this, my hackles raised a bit. A few things pop out; (a) the current retaining wall is very clearly on the neighb's land, was built by the then-neighb's builder, matches the neighb's house, and was very possibly/probably carried out to allow a level plot for the neighbouring house. (b) The newish neighbour bought their house presumably accepting the existing garden width, which has been like this since the house was built 60 years ago. (c) MF was fully prepared to have a new wall put in, to the correct spec, at no cost to the neighb.

Thoughts, please?!

Mine are that (1) there's every chance MF could rightfully claim that the retaining wall is fully the neighb's responsibility if she wanted to. (2) The neighbour is being selfish/churlish to not compromise on the straddling, given the situation. (3) If MF proceeded on the terms insisted on by her neighb, she can at least insist the neighb demolishes the existing wall - which is clearly theirs - and clears it away! :-)
You need to be more precise about the bit in red. What do the deeds say exactly? Why is your friend (MF?) so sure it is on the neighbour's side of the boundary?
CherryBlack
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Re: Retaining wall responsibility.

Post by CherryBlack »

Cheers, Collab.

From where the wall starts and ends, it is 'very clear' that it's on their side of the boundary. Also, the wall was built to match their house, and not MF's.

The deeds state which boundary fence they should maintain (and it is on that side), but no mention of a retaining wall.

The wall was built by the neighbouring house's builders.
despair
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Re: Retaining wall responsibility.

Post by despair »

Then its time your friend stood up the bully neighbour

Lays out the sequence/timeline of events ...check planning etc at local council

Check Building Inspectors notes because the retaining wall should have been inspected

Your friend also needs to check all insurances mortgages, credit cards , unio memberships for legal expenses cover

When your friend has all the facts together ...they need to collate them in

1234 order

And make one final offer to build a retaining wall only on neighbours land or straddling the boundary to SE specification on condition the neighbour dismantles and removes all current brickwork .( can the bricks be reused in new retaining wall though ? ) ...make it very clear that if the offer is refused all costs and responsibility for slippage etc and new retaining wall becomes the neighbours

If i was your friend i would get a solicitor to draft that final letter
Collaborate
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Re: Retaining wall responsibility.

Post by Collaborate »

Your friend needs to show the deeds to their solicitor and ask about responsibility for the wall - if you’re not going to post the wording of the deed there is little anyone here can comment upon.
ukmicky
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Re: Retaining wall responsibility.

Post by ukmicky »

If the wall is on the neighbours land it’s the neighbours wall.

If it’s retaining you friends land and has been doing so for 60 years your friend has an easement right to continue to use it to retain their land.

With that right comes the right to maintain or rebuild if necessary on the neighbours land.

However I doubt your friend has the right to add an extra skin onto it ,even if the extra skin is on your friends side of the boundary.
Any information provided is not legal advice and you are advised to gain a professional opinion
arborlad
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Re: Retaining wall responsibility.

Post by arborlad »

CherryBlack wrote: Sat Jun 25, 2022 9:06 am
Fast forward, and this wall - single skin - is failing,.................





How high is the wall?................can you clarify the thickness of the wall, that could be 4-1/2" or 9".

I wouldn't get too hung up on what the deeds say about 'responsibility', what's more important is that it is a retaining wall. Unless there is something we are unaware of, your friend will have a 'right of support' in perpetuity.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people
CherryBlack
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Re: Retaining wall responsibility.

Post by CherryBlack »

Thanks all.

It's single-skin, so ~4" thick, and waist height - so quite impressive that it's lasted 60 years.

Thanks everyone - that's pretty much confirmed what I suggested, and the neighbour is either just ignorant of the facts, or a bit of a chancer.

Between the extreme options of MF taking on the whole new wall and all of it on their land (daft), and the other which it to tell the neighb to 'do one', I've suggested that - after they've made it clear to the neighb the facts, and after they have accepted this - they could then arrive at a compromise of, say, splitting the cost 50:50, and the new double-skin wall straddling the boundary. (I think this might be wise, as well as 'neighbourly', as it's possible that, since the wall was built, MF's land could well have risen against that wall, so is now retaining what is an adjustment on MF's land level. MF doesn't know if this is the case, but accepts it is 'possible'. So if this issue cannot be resolved in an acceptable, mutually-beneficial way, but went 'legal' instead, then it could become complex and unpleasant, with all sorts of surveyors and carp involved.
MacadamB53
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Re: Retaining wall responsibility.

Post by MacadamB53 »

ukmicky wrote: Sat Jun 25, 2022 10:40 pm If the wall is on the neighbours land it’s the neighbours wall.

If it’s retaining you friends land and has been doing so for 60 years your friend has an easement right to continue to use it to retain their land.

With that right comes the right to maintain or rebuild if necessary on the neighbours land.

However I doubt your friend has the right to add an extra skin onto it ,even if the extra skin is on your friends side of the boundary.
+1 an important point noted by ukmicky that needs to be considered
arborlad
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Re: Retaining wall responsibility.

Post by arborlad »

CherryBlack wrote: Sun Jun 26, 2022 10:06 am Thanks all.

It's single-skin, so ~4" thick, and waist height - so quite impressive that it's lasted 60 years.




That is impressive for a half brick wall of that height and age, is your friend sure? Visually, it would appear as all stretchers for the whole of its height and length. An alternative would be the bond changing lower down the wall and headers would be apparent, or it is tied into some blockwork on your friends land. One of these is invaluable in your friends situation: https://www.toolstation.com/roughneck-f ... ins/p83770
arborlad

smile...it confuses people
arborlad
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Re: Retaining wall responsibility.

Post by arborlad »

ukmicky wrote: Sat Jun 25, 2022 10:40 pm
However I doubt your friend has the right to add an extra skin onto it ,even if the extra skin is on your friends side of the boundary.



I can no reason not to, and may already be there.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people
ukmicky
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Re: Retaining wall responsibility.

Post by ukmicky »

arborlad wrote: Mon Jun 27, 2022 8:38 am
ukmicky wrote: Sat Jun 25, 2022 10:40 pm
However I doubt your friend has the right to add an extra skin onto it ,even if the extra skin is on your friends side of the boundary.



I can no reason not to, and may already be there.
Yes that is a good point as who knows what is hidden behind the face of the wall
Any information provided is not legal advice and you are advised to gain a professional opinion
arborlad
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Re: Retaining wall responsibility.

Post by arborlad »

ukmicky wrote: Tue Jun 28, 2022 10:58 pm
arborlad wrote: Mon Jun 27, 2022 8:38 am
ukmicky wrote: Sat Jun 25, 2022 10:40 pm
However I doubt your friend has the right to add an extra skin onto it ,even if the extra skin is on your friends side of the boundary.



I can no reason not to, and may already be there.
Yes that is a good point as who knows what is hidden behind the face of the wall




Further to this, additional width on the neighbours land may not be there, as of right, it is something that can be negotiated.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people
CherryBlack
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Re: Retaining wall responsibility.

Post by CherryBlack »

Thanks everyone.

I think we're armed with the info that's needed to arrive at a good, mutually-acceptable compromise.
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