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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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We live at the foot of an old quarry. Both our house and the

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We live at the foot of an old quarry. Both our house and the house at the top of the quarry cliff face are over 200 years old. There is a dry stone wall retaining the garden at the top - about thirty foot vertically from our garden. It has failed in several places and what remains is in a poor condition as old trees growing at the top have pushed the wall over. It is within four yards from our house and directly above a patio area. Our neighbour denies responsibility will not even share the cost of repair. We had to pay to have his trees /shrubs cut back as he had cut them back so severely on his side that all the growth was all on our side so the weight had pulled the trunk to a 45 degrees from the vertical endangering the wall even more. Do we have a case for compelling him to at least contribute to the repair of the wall as we fear for our safety.
Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this,
For now please let me know on whose land is the wall?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The wall is built on the land at the top of the cliff so we assume it is on his land. It certainly retains his garden and serves no purpose to us other than keeping his garden from falling into ours.The cliff itself is almost vertical sandstone but there is nothing at all in the deeds to say who is responsible for the cliff itself. We didn't know there was a wall there when we bought the house and it was only until his trees and ivy were removed that we saw the extent of the problem...we had just assumed it was rock all the way up and then his garden. He says that as the wall is retaining his soil and is below the surface, previous owners could not have built it. Our opinion is that as it is 30 ft up, neither could the owners of our house. It is our opinion that the wall was built as a simple dry stone boundary wall and over the last 200 years, the soil has washed down the slope to backfill it - thus turning it into a unsatisfactory retaining wall. Where the wall has historically failed, the land at the top slopes dramatically, which is in variance to the rest of the land which is his garden. (He has fenced this bit off presumably for safety reasons) We also feel that even if by some chance the wall was built by owners of our property, it is the tree growth In his garden that has caused the wall to fail. A man from the council visited about ten years ago and ordered him to repair part of the wall that was about to imminently fall down. He has since said that he repaired the wall as an act of good faith and it doesn't mean he was responsible for it. The council no longer provide this service as it is private land.
Have you had a survey done yet please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No, but a friend of ours who is structural engineer, albeit not specialising in this particular field, says he would be worried just by briefly looking at it. The men who cut down the trees (and who also rebuilt a bit of the same wall that was above our next door neighbours patio) said that, although some parts of the wall seem reasonably solid, one place in particular could go at any time as it is leaning out and is unsupported on one side where the wall has previously failed. Also, we have always had occasional rocks fall from the wall onto a rather neglected bit of garden. Our next door neighbour had asked for the chap at the top of the cliff to contribute to the cost but he would not - so he paid for the work himself as otherwise he could not have used the patio (his only sitting area in his small garden) A similar dry stone wall we had in our back garden retaining an area of higher land collapsed suddenly and with no warning just before Christmas. My husband is rebuilding it himself at the moment and I supposed it is this that has concentrated our mind on the problem as the wall on top of the cliff is much bigger and looks in a worse state than ours did! I have photographs if you think this would help?
You need to get a proper survey done. This will set out what the problem is and how it can be fixed and whether it is the land owners problem, which I suspect it is. Then you need to get several quotes for getting the work done, this is your loss,
You need to write and set out your losses and request the work started or the cost if it within 14 days or say you will go to Court within 14 days. You should make sure you send this signed delivery and keep a copy.
If they do not then you can issue proceedings in the County Court. You can either do this online at: or by completing form N1 and take it to your local County Court.
The Court will then issue a claim which a copy will be sent to the Defendant who will have a limited time to defend it, if not you can enter Judgment and enforce.
If the claim is for £10,000 or less it will be a small claim so you will not need legal representation. Over this value you would need representation for trial.
Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
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I am just following up on this. Is there anything else I can help with? If so, please let me know.