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Alice H
Alice H, Solicitor/Partner
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 2850
Experience:  Partner in national law firm
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My neighbour's house, attached to mine, has a leaking pipe

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My neighbour's house, attached to mine, has a leaking pipe and toilet that has caused my adjoining kitchen wall to become damp to the point of being soaking wet. My wall is becoming wetter and wetter. There is electrical wiring in the wall. Unfortunately, my neighbour's house is uninhabited and semi-derelict and my neighbour is unable to be contacted. I have contacted the water board and the council's department of the environment, but the water board says that they cannot enter the house without permission to shut off the mains. The department of the environment cannot visit the property before the middle of next month, in spite of suspected sewerage in the water contaminating the wall. Do I have a right to enter my neighbour's derelict property, shut off the mains water and carry out a repair? I have made every effort to contact my neighbour The damage to my property is increasing daily and no one seems to have the authority to remedy the problem.
My name is*****'m happy to help with your question today. What part of the property proposing to enter do you mean the house or just the garden area?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Turning off the mains water in my neighbour's house means that I will have to enter her garden and go into the house via the back door (which is already ajar because of the house's semi-derelict state). Once inside I will have to locate the rising mains valve, shut it off, investigate the cause of the leak, repair it, and leave.

You really have a couple of options here:
1. You could apply for an access order from the County Court to access the property under the Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992. This allows a person to apply to the county court for an access order allowing them to enter the neighbour's land to carry out repairs. There is a fee for the application. Written notification must be given to the owner of the property concerned and it is enforceable by Court Order if access is denied.
When applying for an access order a person must show that:
the work is reasonably necessary for the preservation of all or part of his/her property/land
the work cannot be done, or it would be substantially more difficult to do the work, if the person cannot get access to the neighbour's land
Access will be granted to carry out 'basic preservation work', which includes:
maintenance, repair or renewal of any part of a structure or building on the land/property
repair, clearance or renewal of drains, sewers, pipes or cables
work to trees and other growing things, which are insecurely rooted, dead or in danger of becoming damaged, diseased or dangerous
2. The quicker cheaper route is to go over to the property immediately and turn the water off. So long as you are entering for a lawful purpose (e.g. Do not steal or cause damage) then no criminal liability will attach to your actions. The neighbour could claim trespass under civil law but quite frankly any claim against you would be worthless when taking into account the damage caused to your property.
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