Question: We have just moved into a new house. The back garden is surrounded by high brick walls. There are houses on both sides.
© Merrily Harpur
Our solicitor said that there was nothing in the deeds about responsibility for these walls so we should presume they were party or shared. One wall needs repairing but when I spoke to the neighbour on that side about sharing the cost, he said that as the wall was on the left of our garden, it belonged to us and he won’t be contributing.
Answer: There are many misconceptions about the ownership of walls and your neighbour has quoted the most popular. There is no such rule.
Your solicitor is correct in his advice. However, the presumption that a wall will be shared, in the absence of anything specific in the deeds, may be rebutted by evidence to the contrary. For instance, the wall may be completely on your side of the boundary line, in which case it will be your responsibility. Your sellers will have stated who has maintained the various walls and your solicitor will have that information, which may also affect the presumption of sharing.
If the wall is a party wall, the Law of Property Act gives you the right to claim one half of the costs from your neighbour. You need to go back to your solicitor and check exactly what your sellers said during the conveyancing process.
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Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP (www.thrings.com).
These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.