Planning disputes are remarkably common. Many people assume that ‘planning’ refers to the construction of new buildings – big supermarkets that are overseen by the council, for example. In reality, though, planning concerns affect us all – and there are costs involved.
Planning disputes between neighbours can be difficult and costly. It is important that you understand who is responsible for that cost.
How might a dispute arise?
There is a huge variety of circumstances in which planning disputes might arise between neighbours. Confusion or arguments are unhappily common when one party wants to extend or alter their house. Of course, in most cases neighbours are able to come to an amicable solution between themselves – but sometimes there are irreconcilable differences for which further action is required.
What costs might be incurred?
The costs that might be involved in a planning dispute depend on the nature of the dispute. In some cases the costs will be nominal – but sadly, the financial impact of a dispute can sometimes be significant. A common cost is that of surveyors, who can be required in order to make assessments. Similarly, in some cases it may be necessary to apply for court orders, which also have a cost associated. It is therefore important to understand who is liable, in order to ensure fairness and in order to avoid even lengthier arguments about footing the bill.
Party wall disputes
Party wall problems are amongst the most common reasons for planning disputes – and they often cause the most confusion when it comes to cost. A party wall is the wall that is shared by you and your neighbour. Party walls most commonly separate semi-detached or terraced houses, but the term is also used to describe some boundary fences or barriers.
If your neighbour intends to carry out work that will affect the party wall, you have certain rights of appeal. At some point it will become necessary to appoint a party wall surveyor. It is generally hoped that both parties will be able to agree on a surveyor, who will then carry out an assessment. That assessment, known as an ‘Award’, will then determine things like rights of access – and, crucially, who pays. Surveyors costs will almost always be borne by the party who starts the work.
It is worth noting that the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) is currently running a scheme under which a party wall surveyor will give a free 30 minute consultation. More information is available on the Rics website.
What about shared amenities?
Of course, party wall disputes are not the only planning conflicts that can result in cost. Disputes over shared amenities are also common – and, sadly, commonly lead to arguments over costs.
Many people share amenities with their neighbours. This might include drains, driveways, and chimneys. In blocks of flats, the roof would also be classed as a shared amenity.
In many cases, responsibility for maintenance of shared amenities will be set out in the legal documents relating to the property’s ownership. Often, though, responsibility will not have been codified in this way. In these cases you should negotiate before you carry out the work, in order to avoid arguments. Note that you may have to hire a surveyor to carry out an assessment to determine the work that needs to be done. You should not continue with the repairs until you have the consent of the other parties it will affect.
What about access?
In some cases you may have to gain access to another person’s property in order to repair something you use – for example a pipe. It is generally accepted that, if the item passes through that person’s property, you will have a right of access to have it repaired. This does not mean, however, that you can simply barge into their house. Instead, you need to ask for access – and this is where disputes can arise.
Normally, neighbours will be able to negotiate this between themselves. But if you cannot, you have the right to apply to the County Court for a court order seeking access. There is a fee associated with this – and you will be expected to pay it. The fee is currently set at £175. You should note, however, that you may be able to have the fee waived or reduced in certain circumstances - for example, if you are in receipt of certain benefits, or if your income is below a certain threshold. This is known as the Remissions System.
If you have to apply for a court order, or if you are in any doubt about your legal responsibilities, you should seek independent legal advice before taking any action. Free advice is available from your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
I have a bit of a querywe are private houses around here and are ex council and some of our garages are joinedwith the roof being corrigated metal all they way across both with no joints in between properties, the neighbour next door wants to put a new roof on theirs with theirs leakingnothing wrong with ours what can I do if they damageand make our side leak
angel123 - 20-May-15 @ 3:54 PM
living in a predominant Indian township, born of mix race (black and Indian but dont look Indian neither behave so. Since early teens about 17 years of age when we moved into this township I personally experienced more of the racist remarks because I am more different to my sisters in colour, features and hair. they have a far smooth and better texture. inspite of this I am extremely beautiful and carry myself well. I have domestic problems with them resulting from their untidiness, loose tongues, bad ways and characters (neighbours). growing up they made my life hell at times pick fights with me and call me hurtful racst names.
when I married I married a man who did the same and he did this outside hence giving them an upper hand. With time when I finished school and tertiary I moved city and found my place for forty years free and truly liberated but due to personal problems caused by being retrenched and having two younger kids at school I found myself back in the city and place I grew up in only to go through the same problems which I ran away from and vowed not to return but circumstances brought me here. Im a middle aged single and widow female, a highly professional person surrounded with mediocrity and total blind thinking and ways and I am fighting not to get sucked in in defence to the things they continue to do and say. it is clear to say and see it is done deliberately to get me in trouble with the law. I am diagnosed with severe depression due to this. I recall I have felt this way before when I lived next door to Indians and totally out of control people and my illness was severe but I control myself by saturating in prayer. my faith keeps me strong. Even in the city I had moved to prior my returnensured thatlived in well positioned and flourishing areas for peace and class and its whatam used to and miss so much, my space and no one in my business because they are so noisey and provocative. they have kids who are so undescipline making noise at any given time and they say nothing about it instead encourage saying they pay tax. If you talk to them making them aware they get into insulting altercations and resort to profanity and that I cannot tolerate. phoning the police is of no use because they have relatives who come and side with them> I have since written a letter to the municipality where the municipality has jurisdiction and await their reply and now I want to file a a legal founding statement to the courts seeking an amicable recourse and finding difficulties. zthey provoke me everyday they throw filth and dirty water to stand in fron of my door to the extent sit or jump over my boundary wall even leaving the toddler to do same and the toddler pulls and breaks the plants, the others write on the walls and due to neglegence they throw papers on the floor and all sorts of dirt that block the drains to the whole complex and zi have the problem because the outlet is on my side to the extent a block sewer xi had to crea
Bernie - 9-Apr-15 @ 9:12 PM
I live in a terrace house and in the winds a couple of fence panels blew down on our boundaries within the week of this happening my neighbour posted a letter to us saying she had a fence company coming to put a new fence up a few days later and they did whilst I was at work! I then received a very expensive bill in my door from her which we hadn't agreed on so have said we aren't paying it? She is saying if we don't pay she will get her solicitor involved, where do we stand?
Rachychick - 21-Apr-14 @ 2:18 PM
Hi.I stay in a family house and the neighbour interfere in our bussiness.She's giving everyone wrong information that I beat my sisters,but the actual problems are she wants to handle my sister accident claim and she want the family house.She bang our window at 00h20 in the morning she don't want to stop and I have a tempory order against her.
Polka - 29-Mar-14 @ 4:09 PM
I own a semi detached which I bought knowing it needs a replacement roof. this was obvious due to most of the houses on the street being council homes. mine is ex council and one of very few privately owned homes on the street. the council have replaced the roof on all of the council owned homes including the one I am attached too. I have money aside to do the work however being a first time buyer and never encountered council rules etc with a matter such as this I have a question. after speaking to my neighbor she has told me that I can get intouch with the council and request that they pay a portion of the cost of a new roof on my own home. purely on the basis that it is attached to a council home. can someone please tell me if this is true and where if known could I get something saying this in writing as I am sure if I ring the council with the question they will say no regardless of the truth. or am I just living next to a compulsive lier. many thanks