Boundary Beware – can I erect a building on my boundary line?

If you are intending to carry out works to a boundary feature, you may need to consider whether it is a party wall within the provisions of the Party Wall, etc, Act 1996 (‘the Act’)or risk ending up in a costly court battle!

In a recent case, Rashid v Sharif (2014), Mr A removed a wall situated on the boundary between his and Mr B’s adjoining property and replaced it with the rear wall of a new shed.  The former wall was deemed to be a ‘party fence wall’ within the provisions of the Act – i.e. ‘…a wall (not being part of a building) which stands on lands of different owners and is used or constructed to be used for separating such adjoining lands…’

It was held that Mr B did not consent to Mr A building the shed where he did and protested strongly when the works were far advanced.  Despite this, Mr A continued with the works.  However, Mr A should have served appropriate notices on Mr B in accordance with the Act and secured permission under the statutory procedures before carrying out the works.  Mr B took Mr A to court.

At the Court of Appeal, the judge held Mr A’s actions to constitute a trespass onto Mr B’s property.  However, given the relatively minor nature of the trespass (a 9 inch encroachment) the judge was unwilling to grant an injunction (i.e. to order Mr A to remove the trespassing wall of the shed and reinstate the former wall), instead awarding Mr B modest damages.  Each party was ordered to pay their own costs for the litigation – overall, an expensive boundary feature!

This is a cautionary tale for anyone intending to carry out building works to a party wall –check whether there are any statutory procedures to follow and, if possible, communicate with your neighbour.

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Every piece of content we create is correct on the date it’s published but please don’t rely on it as legal advice. If you’d like to speak to us about your own legal requirements, please contact one of our expert lawyers.


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