How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Joshua Your Own Question
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 26070
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
Type Your Property Law Question Here...
Joshua is online now

I own a terraced house, inherited from my parents. Over 30

This answer was rated:

I own a terraced house, inherited from my parents.
Over 30 years ago my parents built a lean-to using their boundary wall and the side wall of the house.
The structure is sturdy and has been built to last, with double glazing and a flat ashfelt roof, and is only is one story high.
They built this lean-to without planning permission.
In the intervening years, the next door neighbour insisted on building a solid canopy from their house and using the boundary wall side of my parents structure to rest on, as support.
They may have intimidated my parents with the threat of revealing no planning permission in order to get their way.
My problem is that I may now need to dismantle this lean-to, thus removing all support for next doors adjoining canopy.
Seeing as it is my boundary wall and my structure/ lean-to that I am demolishing, am I legally obligated to my neighbour and his canopy support in any way?

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

  1. May I clarify whether the boundary wall you refer to is accepted as belonging to your parents house by the neighbours? i.e. the neighbours do not or could not claim that it is theirs?
  2. Do you know roughly how long ago the neighbours roof was constructed?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I have not discussed the boundary wall ownership with the nieghbours, although it has been tacitly accepted due to my parents building the extension of the boundary wall into the garden area, in the style of their choice without needing consultation.
Also the wall is shown as mine on my deeds.
The neighbours roof was added about 27 years ago. Their roof is just corrugated plastic screwed onto a wooden frame, resting on my parents permanent structure.
Thank you.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Ps. Their roof is also preventing me doing remedial maintenance work in dealing with water penetration ie I cannot access underneath where their wooden frame rests on my parents roof - hence possible demolition.

Thank you - I'm very sorry for the delay in replying to you. I had to take a phone call which took some time. I am grateful for the above information. Based on what you say the wall would belong to your parents property as they paid for it but it may be difficult to evidence this at this point.

The problem however arises from the length of time the neighbours have had the roof secured to the roof. Because they have installed the roof more than twenty years ago they will no be able to claim a right of support by long use under the Prescription Act unless you can show that they attached it to the wall by agreement with your parents. If they did so with your parents express permission, then this permission operates as something called a licence and prevents a right being acquired under the Prescription Act because a licence can be withdrawn at any time. It would be for you to prove the existenec of such an agreement though if denied by the neighbours - a written agreement is best but other evidence such as independent witness evidence can be relied on instead. I appreciate this could be difficult after so long.

If the neighbours claim they have a right to maintain the roof as a result of more than 20 years use, and can prove it has been there for 20 years or more then you would need their permission to remove the wall or at least the section of wall on which the roof rests. If you dispute that it has been there for 20 years, it is for them to prove that it has been in order to claim such a right.

The starting point is likely to be for you to speak to the neighbours and advise that you will be removing the wall and ask that they make alternative arrangements for the support of their roof. They may be unaware of their potential above rights or you may be able to come to some arrangement. If they refuse you can consider advising them they have no right to use the wall as support and hope that they accept this. If they are aware of the above 20 year rule you can put them to strict proof that they have had the roof there for 20 years or more and in addition if you can find evidence of permission by your parents, you can use this to block any claimed right.

Does the above answer all your questions? If it does, I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click a rating for my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
If I removed the roof of my lean-to and leave the boundary wall remaining along with the double glazing that supports their roof, leaving all their support in place but detaching any connection to my house via said roof - am I obligated in any way regarding the stability of their roof?

Thank you for the above and my apologies for the delay in reverting to you. Any claimed rights can only go as far as regards ***** ***** on which they use for support; they do not extend to other structures. Providing the wall itself does not rely on the roof as an integral means of support, which I assume it doesn't, they can have no complaint regarding your removing the roof structure on your side.

Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help you with any further?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
I must apologise to you, insomuch as I gave you the wrong timing as to when their roof was erected.
To the best of my knowledge it was just around 19 years ago - I know this from where I was living at the time.
Apart from them not being able to claim a right of support by long use under the Prescription Act, is there any difference in how I deal with this?
Thank you once again.

No problem. Obviously that improves the position very much in that they have to get over that 20 year hurdle before they can claimany legal rights just as you say. You can accordingly take a more straigthfroward approach that they must remove it within say 14 days or as you choose - any such notice should be in writing though there is nothing stopping you having a verbal discussion first. You should ensure that if you are considering dismantling the wall that you consider doing so before the 20 year anniversary comes around if you known when this was. The 20 year clock continues to tick until they either remove the roof, ask for permission to keep it there, you remove the wall or you issue an application to the courts to require them to remove it.

If removing their roof as part of the demolition you should take care not to damage it as they could otherwise claim criminal damage.

Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help you with any further?

Joshua and 3 other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you