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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 32086
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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We have been served notice under Section 77 of the Building

Customer Question

We have been served notice under Section 77 of the Building Act 1984 regarding a retaining wall on the boundary of our property that is approximately 3m high and has a road on top of it. The wall (and road) runs behind our property and the neighbouring 4 properties and in January 2011 the wall partially collapsed behind our neighbours property. The road was immediately closed and the local council have installed scaffolding to brace our section of the retaining wall to the rear of our house to support the retaining wall giving us no access to the rear of our property for over 2 years.

The council claim that the wall was built to allow the houses to be built around 100 years ago and have had two surveyors reports that confirm this but fail to provide any evidence identifying actual ownership - we do not dispute why the wall was built but a lot has happened in the last 100 years!. The road has been adopted but there appears to be no record of this or the retaining wall and the council cannot tell us when the road was adopted.

Our deeds clearly identify our boundary liabilities and the the boundary in question is not identified. The wall is of random stone construction to a height of 1.5m (which ties in with this being part of the original construction) with the top 1.5m section being of mass poured concrete which is around 0.35m thick and runs over 1m under the surface of the road. This construction is consistent behind all 5 properties and clearly from the shuttering marks has been built in a single construction - clearly this has not been done by previous home owners.

We have also found information in archived Minute books from the council previously responsible for our area that suggests that they undertook work on the wall back in 1933-4.

We clearly dispute ownership of the wall and therefore will have to wait until the notice period expires and have our day in court.

Am I right in thinking that the information above gives us a good case?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  James Mather replied 5 years ago.

You have received a dangerous structure notice.

I have another case, which is virtually the same, but in this
case, the house is above the wall and it is a car park below the wall. The car
park is surrounded by sand stone wall and the retaining wall between the house
and the car park is collapsed. The house is made of brick.

The people who owned the car park (a social club) maintain that
the wall is owned by the house and we maintain (probably a bit more logically),
but as it is the same stone as the rest of the car park wall, it belongs to the
car park.

Meanwhile, the wall remains collapsed.

If the wall is stone, what are the houses made of? Are there any
other stone walls in the vicinity owned by the local authority or private

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

The houses are of stone construction and there are no other retaining walls nearby. The wall was built around 100 years ago as was the main part of the house. The road has been adopted by the council and the mass poured concrete upper section of the wall runs behind all 5 properties and has clearly been built all at the same time sometime we believe between 1920 and 1960.

Expert:  James Mather replied 5 years ago.
So is the wall the same kind of stone as the house? If so, that is not looking favourable towards the Council owning it.