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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71154
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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In 2009 the builder of my house without my permission connected

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In 2009 the builder of my house without my permission connected my drains by pipes into the soakaway in the field his late father owned and then connected those pipes to a soakaway in that field. This work was undertaken because my house had flooded following snow melt in 2009 due to failure of my soakaway that the builder had constructed. Subsequently his father died and he sold the field via his late father's estate to my neighbour. I wanted to sell my house in 2009 and went to solicitors who told me I needed an easement otherwise my house would not sell. After two and a half years of dispute letters between me and the builder via the solicitors I got nowhere. I stopped using that solicitors as I believed they were not working in my interest and cronyism between the two solicitors was occurring. However over time I have run out of money. I moved out of my house in June 2013 and rented a property in the hope the neighbour and the builder would see sense and sign the easement needed. However due to lack of funds I was forced back. The estate agent I had my property up for sale with has tried to liaise with the builder's solicitor, myself and the builder. He has managed to get the builders solicitors to write to my neighbour that they have been reluctant to do up till now. Apparently she needs to sign a rectification of the easement as apparently there were words missing in the original. She has said she is willing to sign but as the land is now part of her pension she needs to take instruction from her pension trustees.
The estate agent says this is good news and I can move forward to letting a potential buyer view my property again and onwards to solicitors. I feel my neighbour has given my no concrete timeline and if I move to appointing solicitors this dispute will continue and more of my money will be lost. Can you help?

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

Have you offered the neighbour money, not including legal costs, for the easement?

How much have you spent in legal costs so far?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No I have not offered money to my neighbour but it was proposed by my former solicitors but I see no reason to do so as I did not install the pipes or soakaway. It is not only my water but all the five houses in my cul de sac that flow into it. However their water has to first pass over my land before it goes into the new soakaway in the neighbours field.

Therefore former owners have had no problem in selling. Also the builder and estate agent seem to have had a hand in the resell each time as is the same in my case.


I have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds. Two and a half years at between £1,500 and £2,000 per month. I asked for an exact figures some time ago but my solicitor said it would not be easy to determine as he had dealt with other matters as well.


You need to take up the legal costs with the solicitor because he should be able to tell you exactly how much you have spent.

I think that a lot of this has been wasted because for what you have spent in legal costs, you could have saved 99% of that, by simply paying a few thousand pounds to the neighbour to take legal advice and signed the document.

I appreciate that you may not feel that you are obliged to pay the neighbour anything but it would have been a much more practical solution.

In addition, it would appear that had this been done four years ago, it would not now be part of the neighbour's pension pot in the neighbour would be taking decisions on their own.

In all honesty there is also no reason why it should have taken four years.

The situation at the moment appears to be that because the trains were connected without consent, and there is no indication that there ever was consent, this is trespass.

In cases like this, the court would award compensation/damages in respect of the trespass although ultimately, it could order the soakaway removed however I think that's unlikely.
So, whilst you may not feel that you wanted to pay the neighbour for the easement, I think it highly likely the court would order you to pay.

I am not certain what you are asking for it at this stage in time there appeared to be two things required: an agreed deed of easement and its subsequent registration and the agreement to the pension trustees and the neighbour to grant the easement.

Presumably, you are agreeing to be responsible for the neighbours costs.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

How do I achieve a timeline on getting my neighbour to sign the easement. If I agree to pay the neighbours costs can I claim them back from the builder who created this problem in the first place?


It wasn't made clear to me until the end of two nearly three year period that it was my neighbour along with the builder who needed to sign the easement document. The then solicitor wanted me to pay up to £20,000 for the easement.

You only have six years from the date this came to your attention, to sue the builder, because the Limitation Act 1986 put a stop on it after that date.
You can only sue the builder if he did not give you notice that this soakaway had been used and if he did give you notice, it would have been for the solicitor to ask for proof of easement.
It is so fundamental that I cannot imagine for one moment the solicitor would have known about this and not asked for the proof of easement.
If there was no easement, it would have been easy enough to take out insurance for lack of easement, at the time provided the neighbour, at that stage, had not objected.
It would be worthwhile getting the solicitors file to see whether it was raised at the time because if it was mentioned but the solicitor did nothing about it, you have a claim against the solicitor.

If it was the same solicitor that you are using now, you should go to another solicitor because there is a conflict of interest between the solicitor trying to resolve this and the solicitor looking after his own claims history.

I think you have a complaint about the current solicitor for milking this for fees needlessly but that is based upon what you have told me, please bear in mind I have not seen the file.

I don't think you can put pressure to bear on the neighbour because it is your property that is in the wrong here and you are actually wanting something.

On the contrary, I think the neighbour could actually make you remove this in which case you would then have a substantial claim against the builder.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I had two drain reports undertaken and they stated that my drains were connected directly to the highway and not the soakaway in the rear field. That is why I thought I could finally sell. The estate agent informed me that the builder still insisted that I am connected to the new soakaway. Therefore any purchaser of my property would not get a mortgage without this easement. The neighbour and the builder were originally friends and have since fallen out. It maybe that I am not connected and that is why she never asked the builder to remove the pipes. I have asked for my file from my former solicitors which I didn't know I was entitled to so thank you. I have left a message for my neighbour to call to see why she didn't ask the builder to remove the pipes. Again thank you. I first went into my solicitor on the 16 October 2009 to see if I had the right to sell given the information from the builder that he had connected my pipes to my neighbours. I didn't have this date in mind and again I thank you because I realise I must decide to move on this matter with some urgency. My house I believe is worth over a million (I paid £820,000 in 2005). I was willing to accept £900,000 if they let me go. I have been a widow since 2003 bringing up an autistic daughter and a son with ME. I have spent at least the past five years living in a paper hell. I thank you so much for your advice today.

If that is the case, it comes down to where the drain is actually connected.

If you have a report which says the drains are connected to the highway, and they are not connected into the soakaway, I think you have a negligence claim against whoever conducted the drain surveys.

I think if there has been a survey and there is no evidence to the contrary, to say that you are connected into the soakaway, I think that you can rely on the survey but you will need to bring it to the attention of the buyer.

I am glad to have helped you even though obviously I cannot bring this to a conclusion for you.
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