Residential Property Disputes
Your home is a refuge away from the stresses of modern life.
It can therefore be soul destroying, stressful and demoralising if you have to live next door to someone that is inconsiderate and causing you nuisance or if the actions of a neighbour are causing you distress.
We can assist you in respect of residential property disputes. In particular, Hill & Abbott Solicitors have experience in dealing with cases of trespass, boundary disputes, nuisance and damage (including subsidence and heave), neighbour disputes, Party Wall Act 1996 issues, easements, covenants and rights of way, mortgage repossession and property ownership. We can also assist you in relation to service charge disputes.
Nuisance occurs in different ways but it often arises when something escapes for a neighbour’s property and causes you distress, inconvenience and damage. This can include noise, smells, water discharged from roofs and guttering, tree branches and tree roots.
Tree roots in particular can cause a huge amount of damage to properties through subsidence and heave, as the roots draw water out of the soil and desiccate it or push upwards on the soil as they grow.
If you suspect that tree roots from a tree on another piece of land is causing such damage, it is important to act quickly to obtain the appropriate expert evidence.
Normally household insurance will cover this and your insurers should take steps to appoint the appropriate experts to consider the position. If matters become difficult and a dispute arises with the neighbouring property owner, then they may appoint solicitors to deal with the dispute on your behalf. You do not have to agree to the appointment of those solicitors and are generally free to appoint your own.
Damage to property and the Party Wall Act 1996
In terraced and other houses that are joined, works undertaken on one property can damage the adjoining property if precautions are not taken or the work is undertaken poorly. This is why the Party Wall Act 1996 was introduced and Hill & Abbot can advise you in relation to the steps that need to be taken in relation to this Act and can liaise with the appropriate expert surveyor accordingly.
Trespass arises when someone or something belonging to someone else (such as tree roots or a fence, for example) is situated on a piece of land that does not belong to them. Trespass can also occur in the more traditional sense, when an individual enters onto someone else’s land without permission.
If a trespass arises, steps can be taken to remove it and sometimes damages or injunctions are an appropriate remedy to seek from the court.
Trespass can arise is appropriate measurements of boundary lines are not taken and observed and a classic example of this is when an extension is built which trespasses onto another property owner’s land.
It can be extremely frustrating when a neighbour seeks to assert that they own a piece of land, which you do not believe that they do. Normally this arises in relation to a boundary line that is in dispute and often the area in question may be very small.
Normally these disputes are resolved by a careful consideration of the historical deeds of the properties in question, as plans registered with HM Land Registry only set out ‘general boundaries’ which are not exact.
If this does not resolve the issue, then the appointment of a surveyor can assist in resolving the matter.
Mediation is also an option, as it is in relation to all disputes. However, mediation in relation to boundary disputes can be particularly effective and can represent a saving in terms of legal costs that may otherwise be incurred in arguing about what can often be a very small piece of land.
Easements, covenants and rights of way
For one property to exist beside or nearby to another, it is often necessary for an easement or right of way to exist. It may also be a requirement for the owner of a property to maintain something at their expense.
Easements, rights of way and covenants can be set out in written documents and deeds. Easements and rights of way can also be acquired over a long period of time or out of necessity.
Examples include obligations to maintain a fence or driveway, a right to access a property over someone else’s land, a right to enter onto someone else’s land to carry our repair works, a right to light or a right for pipes and electrical cables to run underneath someone else’s property.
Disputes in relation to these rights and liabilities often arise. The disputes can relate to who, how and when the rights can be used, who is obliged to pay for what and whether or not the rights are being abused.
Hill & Abbott can assist you resolving such disputes and the first step to doing so is a consideration of the historical deeds of the properties in question and the purpose of the right when it was originally granted.
When you take out a mortgage you are always warned that if you do not keep up repayments, your home may be repossessed.
However, this is of no assistance to those whose circumstances have changed to the extent that they can no longer afford to pay their mortgage.
It is important to address these issues at an early stage and liaise with your mortgage provider accordingly.
If you are facing possession proceedings, we may be able to assist you in opposing them or obtaining a possession order that is more beneficial to you. We may also be able to negotiate with your lender.
If you are a mortgage provider and seeking to obtain possession for a mortgagor’s property, then there are certain formal protocols to be followed before doing so. We can advise you in relation to the steps that you need to take and with the court and other processes.