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LondonlawyerJ
LondonlawyerJ, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 803
Experience:  Solicitor with over 15 years experience.
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We own a detached property built c.1970. We recently decided

Customer Question

We own a detached property built c.1970. We recently decided to build an extension and refurb the house.
While doing the groundworks, our builder replaced a surface water soakaway. The new one is of a suitable size for the surface water run-off from our roof. After replacing it and completing most of the work our builder discovered that one of our neighbour's downpipes from their roof fed into our old soakaway (on our property). Our new soakaway is not large enough to cope with their surface water also. Further, their pipe will need to be re-routed to avoid some of our new foundations (yet to be built).
Providing our neighbours with soakaway capacity on our property and re-routing their pipe will mean an increase in our build cost. Also, it would seem better long-term if our neighbour’s surface water run-off was re-routed to their property.
Can we insist that our neighbour’s surface water be re-routed to their property? If so, can we insist that this should be at their cost?
If we cannot insist on this, and their surface water must continue to flow into a soakaway on our property, should our neighbour contribute to the cost of re-routing their surface water pipes and enlarging our new soakaway or another soakaway on our property?
It may well be that some of our neighbour’s surface water has run into our soakaway ever since the houses were built, however we can find no reference to this in our land registry title deeds. We bought our property about 10 years ago and our neighbour bought his about 18 months ago.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  LondonlawyerJ replied 2 years ago.
Customer:

Hello, I am a solicitor with 20 years experience. I will try to help you with this.

Customer:

If there is nothing in the deeds then there is probably no expressly granted easement (ie right of usage of your land by your neighbours land) but if the property nest door has been using your land to soakaway as of right (ie without being given permission, not doing it by force or by stealth) their roof water for 20 years or more they may have acquired an easement to do so through prescription ie long use.

Customer:

At present it is not clear if they have acquired such a right but there is real risk they have. Resolving disputes over this can be difficult and expensive. Unless you have some extra knowledge there is a real risk that this has been going on since the houses were built and they have acquired a right over your land.

JACUSTOMER-xyo6v8vh- :

i have to go out for an hour

Customer:

OK I will be on and off this site today in between appointments.

JACUSTOMER-xyo6v8vh- :

Back again now.

Customer:

Can I give you any more help?

JACUSTOMER-xyo6v8vh- :

Yes. I did ask some specific questions. You have so far shown that google trawl revealed most of this. I think we would find it hard to disprove that they have

JACUSTOMER-xyo6v8vh- :

Sorry pressed return before finishing! Try again:

JACUSTOMER-xyo6v8vh- :

I suspect that we would find it difficult to disprove that the surface water run-off is more recent than 20 years, or indeed if it is more recent, then probably the previous owners would have had to have given some form of permission for the digging up of the garden for them to access the soakaway (even if not documented)!

JACUSTOMER-xyo6v8vh- :

So my questions remain, in these circumstances must we presume that we cannot insist that our neighbour’s surface water be re-routed to their property?

JACUSTOMER-xyo6v8vh- :

Also, if we cannot insist on this, and their surface water must continue to flow into a soakaway on our property, can we insist on our neighbour contributing to the cost of re-routing their surface water pipes and enlarging our new soakaway or another soakaway on our property?
Presumably if this was a case of necessary repair, they should contribute?
Should they contribute in our circumstances - where their use of the soakaway was unknown and so we could not have known in advance that the replacement would not have sufficient capacity?

JACUSTOMER-xyo6v8vh- :

Do I need to re-post the above request for further clarification?
How do I get an answer to the above?

Customer:

The point is that you are unlikely to be able to know the actual answer to your question. The likelihood is that your neighbour has the right to use your land in the way that they have been doing. You therefore cannot insist on them draining into their own garden garden. They do no have to contribute to the cost of your extension.

JACUSTOMER-xyo6v8vh- :

Do I presume that yours is shorthand? I did not ask if they should contribute to our extension, merely to a replacement soakaway.

Customer:

No I don't think they will need to contribute to any costs caused as a result of your extension.

JACUSTOMER-xyo6v8vh- :

I guess I should have expected that I would get little (no?) more I could achieve through a google search, from which I had seen the existence of the concept of a prescriptive easement, where such is not by force or by stealth, and for over 20 years.
Still I guess you have saved me from a face to face consultation with a lawyer at significantly more expense.

Customer:

I would be grateful if you would please rate my service.