My garage holds up neighbour’s garden – what happens when I remove my garage?

Q: My garage is currently holding up my neighbour's garden. With all the excessive rain his garden has pushed my garage several inches and it is about to fall down. As there is no separation or divide between my garden wall & garage and his garden / earth, whose responsibility is it to secure his garden when my garage is removed?

 

The enquiry is about who is responsible if a garage wall on the boundary with a neighbour, which supports the neighbour’s land, becomes damaged as a result of movement in that neighbour’s land.

To my mind the answer will turn on the facts.

If the wall is a party structure (assuming there is no structure attached to the wall on the neighbour’s side, then the wall would need to be astride the boundary, to be a party structure), then it will be the joint responsibility of the two neighbours and the cost of repair will be split between them according to the use that each makes of it. The procedure for dealing with this is covered in the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

If the wall is wholly on the garage owners side, the history of its construction will be relevant. If it was built by the garage owner as a retaining wall, to enable him to lower the levels on his side, it seems to me that, on the face of it, he has a subsisting duty to support the neighbour’s land and in that case, the cost of the repairs will be to his account. If though the neighbour’s land has been heaped up against the garage wall subsequent to its construction, by the neighbour, without authority, then it might be said that the actions of the neighbour have caused damage to the garage owner’s property and in which case  the neighbour is responsible.

The foregoing is my assessment as a surveyor who practises in the field of boundary disputes. I am though not a lawyer and from experience there tend to be legal intricacies which can be relevant. Accordingly I would caution taking the forgoing to be legal advice without first checking it with a lawyer.

Andrew McWhirter, McWhirter Associates, Chartered Surveyors

 

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