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ReadyLaw, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
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Experience:  Bar Professional Training Course
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I’m being blamed by my neighbour for damaging their roof

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I’m being blamed by my neighbour for damaging their roof during my building works. Unfortunately we did not have a PWA, the works completed in Jan 2020. The only thing we did was build up the party wall but everything was done from our side, at no point did my builders go on to their side or do anything that could have caused the damage. their roof is a flat felt roof and very worn. I feel they are using my building work as an excuse they say I have a duty of care to repair their damaged roof
JA: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?
Customer: They wrote to me a few days ago and said I had to pay for the repairs which they have not done. This includes replacing their entire roof and kitchen
JA: Where is the flat located?
Customer: Semi detached house
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: so basically.... no PWA, works begun in July 2017. Completed and signed off in Jan 2020. Neighbours were verbally aware of the works and they would have had sight of Planning permission application. They are using the lack of PWA as the reason for the damage to their roof. Like I said at no point did we go on their side or do anything that would have caused the damage they are claiming. We simply built up the party wall for our loft extension, it was built up from our side.
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
We have pictures of the wall and of their worn out roof. When they complained about it, As gesture of good will my husband went on to their roof and tried to fix the join where their building meets the party wall. They claim the leak continued. He went a second time and this time did much more then before along the entire joint. But they claim it’s still leaking. They only thing that I can think of is that the leak must be coming from
Elsewhere. We tried to explain this to them but instead they have sent a letter stating with no PWA and we have acted in breach of our statutory duty.
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
I have pictures of our wall before and after and their roof which was taken from our side initially and then after each time my husband went there to do any repairs.
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
Basically I’m seeking guidance on where I stand and the right reply I can send, even if I have to use legislative jargon. I don’t think they have much to go by except the lack of PWA.
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
In addition they want us to disclose key documents such as photos (something that I am not comfortable with at this stage). I feel confident that we are not to blame but I need them to understand and see that. Surely this wouldn’t stand up in court. If the court were to reverse burden of proof, I would happily provide that which wouldn’t work in their favour. They are not very nice neighbours and trying to talk to them is near impossible.
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
They also have little or no drainage for their roof. Their entire flat felt roof only has one small drainage hole for rain water to pass through.
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
They have sent me a quote for repair for the entire roof. Surely IF I were to blame, I wouldn’t be required to pay for the entire roof. I feel like I’m being set up by them.
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
They have sent to me the Practice Direction on Pre action conduct and protocols. Does this basically mean they are writing to me to resolve before taking me to court? Are they trying to scare me?
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
I hope you can help me with my reply to them.
Hello,

I've been working hard to find a Professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.

I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.

Thank you!
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
Hi
I am happy to wait.
Thank you

Hi, welcome to JA, I amCustomerone of legal experts here. My goal is to provide you with the best experience possible and answer any questions which you may have about your current situation. I may not respond immediately, this is because I may need a few minutes to read what you shared above, type and respond to you. Feel free to ask any follow up questions as needed until you are satisfied.

Customer: replied 8 days ago.
Thank you. I look forward to receiving your response.

Thanks for your patience and enquiry .

The letter is a pre litigation letter. The law requires that parties do send this letter to attempt to try settle things amicably prior to going to court. Sometimes this is used as a means of scaring someone at times once the letter expires persons proceed straight to filing a claim in court.

I cannot say what to make of the claim against you. The PWA is assume would still not have protected you against what is now being claimed. This person seems to be claiming for damage to roof. Based on what you are saying it does not seem as though you would have been liable for any damage to their roof.

I do not recommend however to simply ignore their letter. Respond asking for them to disclose why they say you are responsible and also ask for them to say exactly what damage has been done and how you would have caused this. This will help you in assessing whether you are liable or not.

Can I clarify anything for you? I hope I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

ReadyLaw, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 2580
Experience: Bar Professional Training Course
ReadyLaw and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 days ago.
Thank you. I am happy to go back to the adjoining neighbour and ask them exactly why and how they believe the damage to their roof was caused by my building works.
But what can I say to them for them to realise that the Party Wall Agreement would not take effect in this situation?

The Party Wall Act speaks to work that is being done along the boundary/structure of both your properties. Based on what I understand no work was being done by you to the roof, as such, the agreement would not have been required with respect to the roof. If for example you had undertaken renovation work to your roof along the party line, one would understand at the very least you been required to have a discussion with the neighbour about it.

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
I contacted the neighbour and asked them to disclose why they say I am responsible and for them to tell me exactly what damage has been done and how my building works would have caused this. They replied saying:
The works you have carried out or caused to be carried out included works to the existing party wall between our respective properties. When a building owner intends to carry out works to an existing party wall they are obliged to give the adjoining owner two months notice before those works commence (see a.3 PWA1996). You failed to give any notice, whether under the PWA1996 or at all. Consequently you acted in breach of your statutory duty. Moreover, the works that you carried out or caused to be carried out to the part wall were, insofar as they affected our part of the party wall, a trespass.
Your works to the party wall have damaged the roof and caused water ingress.
Then they repeat the quote they got for replacing the whole roof.
I still don’t believe they have a case but your views would be appreciated.
Thanks

I note the response received.

There seems to be two separate issues, the work done on the boundary wall and the damage to the roof. You would have been required to give notice with respect to the build up which was done to the party wall. If damage was done to their building as a result of this work you would be liable.

My guidance however with respect to the roof remains the same in light of what you have said was done by your builders. This does not appear based on what you have said to be work done on any aspect of the property close to the respective boundary line.