Property Issues

You own your own home, perhaps your most valuable asset.  Our home is at the centre of our lives and it is, therefore, something we all wish to protect.

Any threat to our home and property is a very sensitive matter. Whether you are seeking to protect your home from the effects of other people’s behaviour or whether you are seeking to enhance the value of your home through Leasehold Enfranchisement, our specialist team will help you see the vital issues and make good decisions as to how best to achieve your desired outcome.

Property Disputes

Unfortunately, it is not unusual to find that someone else’s behaviour begins to encroach upon your enjoyment of your property or even affects its saleability and value. Perhaps a neighbour intends to build upon their land, plants a fast-growing hedge or is demanding access to their land through yours. How do you respond? What will be the possible repercussions if you say no?

We have experience of successfully resolving disputes involving:

  • Party Wall Act
  • Boundaries
  • Breeches of Covenant
  • Disputes over garden fences and leylandii hedges

Curwens experts will explain the law in simple language, present you with clear options and outline the cost versus the benefits of the proposed action.

Leasehold Enfranchisement

If you own a flat or other leasehold property, you may know that the length of the lease and particular conditions upon the lease are significant in determining the saleability and hence the value of your home. On the other hand, you may be the Landlord wanting to sell the freehold, but concerned about achieving a fair price.

The law changed in 2006, granting the right, in certain circumstances, for leasehold owners to purchase the freehold from the Landlord (known as Leasehold Enfranchisement). Alternatively, leaseholders may prefer to purchase a lease extension from their Landlord, extending the term to as much as 90 years, and thus increase the value of their property when it comes to the time to sell. There are conditions to both options and it will also require some organisation of owners of the flats in the block. Nevertheless, our experts have worked both for flat owners and for the Landlord in such negotiations and we can help you too.

Whether Tenant or Landlord, we will help you to understand the process and using our knowledge and long experience, we will advise on the best means of achieving a good result.

Call us now to speak to one of our expert advisors.

FAQs

There may be a right of entry specifically for the purposes of inspection or repair in the property’s legal documents. If there is no such right, or no agreement can be reached, you can apply to the County Court for an Access Order allowing you to enter your neighbour’s land to carry out the repairs. There is a fee for the application.

Where amenities such as drives, drains or roofs are shared between two or more properties, responsibility for maintaining/using them are usually outlined in the property’s legal documents. The legal documents may give you as a property owner rights over your neighbour’s property. Where they are not expressly set out in the documents they may nevertheles arise out of long, continuous and unchallenged use (usually 20 years).

Where there is a need of repair the first step is to find out who is responsible for repairs. If the legal documents do not give a clear indication of liability then try to agree with your neighbour that any costs arising will be shared. It is essential that at each stage when a cost is incurred the household initiating the repairs has the consent of the other parties responsible.

Once again you should first check the legal documents. However, the boundaries between properties can differ from those described in the title documents or lease in certain circumstances. The most common are where they have been changed by agreement or by encroachment (occupation without permission). If you think that the boundaries are not defined in the title document or lease, or that the boundaries have been changed by agreement or encroachment, you will probably need to get legal advice.

There are special rules covering structural work to party walls, the owner must notify neighbours about any work they intend to carry out. These rules allow for the agreement or objection to any work within certain time limits, and compensation and temporary protection for buildings and property. If there is no agreement an independent surveyor can be appointed to decide what work can be done, and how and when.

Whilst it is possible to sue a child for damages if they are old enough to know what they were doing, such an approach is unlikely to be successful at Court. However, it may be possible to sue the child’s parents for negligence if they have failed to exercise the control that would be expected of a parent given the child’s age.

You should first try to speak with your neighbour and ask them to reduce the noise. If this approach fails there are a range of other remedies, depending on your neighbour’s ownership status:

  • If your neighbour is a tenant, you can contact their landlord and request that they enforce the tenancy agreement to prevent noise levels from being unreasonable. If the problem persists it is useful to keep a record/diary of the disturbances which can be used as evidence in any future action.
  • Local Authority tenants can contact the Local Government Ombudsman who may be able to recommend compensation if the local authority has failed in one of its duties.
  • Tenants of housing associations and other registered social landlords can contact the Independent Housing Ombudsman. Local authorities have wide powers to deal with noise nuisances and you should contact the Environmental Health Officer and ask them to investigate. If they consider there is a “noise nuisance” they can serve a notice on the person causing the noise, or on the owner of the property. If the noise does not then abate the local authority can prosecute them and obtain an injunction prohibiting the noise nuisance. Alternatively, you can apply for an injunction in the County Court. If you are contemplating such action you should ensure that you have kept a record of those instances when the noise level has been unreasonable.

In the first place you should ask your neighbour to cut back the overhanging branches. If they do not agree you have the right to pare back the branches to the boundary line (unless there is a Tree Preservation Order in place)s below). The cut branches belong to the tree owner and should be offered back to the owner or disposed of with their consent. You have the right to complain to the local authority if the light to your property is blocked by a neighbour’s hedge which is more than two metres high.

This may result in your neighbour having to reduce the height of their hedge. You must try to resolve the complaint with your neighbour before going to the local authority, and you may be charged a substantial fee before the local authority will consider the complaint. Either you or your neighbour can appeal against the local authority’s decision.

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