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17

Jul 2018

Always see a lawyer before objecting to neighbours’ building plans

You are entitled to object to your neighbours’ building plans, but wise homeowners always seek professional legal advice before doing so. In one case, which a homeowner who opposed construction of an extension next door ended up being ordered to pay his neighbours more than £20,000 in damages.

The man believed that the extension would be too close to his gas flue outlet and sought an injunction against the couple next door. In the event, the couple gave a formal undertaking that they would suspend the works pending resolution of the dispute. A property expert was jointly appointed to resolve the matter and the man promised that, if he turned out to be in the wrong, he would pay the couple damages.

After the expert found that the extension involved no encroachment onto the man’s property, the couple launched proceedings to hold him to his promise. While the building works were delayed by the dispute, the couple had to move out to live with a relative, to whom they paid rent. The costs of the project ballooned and they had to move their belongings into storage. They also had to cancel their Sky subscription and incurred extra costs in driving their children to and from school.

Following a hearing, a judge ordered the man to pay the couple £22,860 in damages. He was also directed to move his gas flue further away from the boundary so as to comply with building regulations. The man challenged the decision, but the High Court could find no flaw in the judge’s ruling and dismissed his appeal.

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