neighbour suddenly objects to something that has been up for

17 Apr 2015
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United Kingdom
I'm selling my house and my next door neighbour has just threatened legal action over a garage on my property that has stood for 21 years.

my father bought the house 23 years ago.

this is a 3 bedroom semi with a driveway running down the side of the house between our house and the neighbours. it is not a shared driveway, each house has its own separated by a brick wall. At the time we moved in, the neighbour had already built an extension to his house that is a garage with a nbedroom over the top, that is on his driveway space up to the party boundary.

2 years after moving in, my father spoke to the neighbour and verbal permission was given to build a garage on our drive. this is a metal corrugated roof, with wooden supports attached to his extension wall. This runs the length of the house (about 25 feet) and is enclosed front and rear. so it is not a carport.

it has never been a carport. it was built like that from inception. No written agreement was made at the time.

8 years ago I bought the house from my father under a joint mortgage with my now ex wife and my parents moved out.

1 year later, we divorced, and I took sole ownership of the property.

I am now putting the house up for sale and the neighbour has said a valuation agent has told him, our garage is devaluing his property and he wants it taken down.

this has since been modified to a lie of 'I only ever gave permission for it to be a car port, take down the garage door at the front and the wall at the back.'

my understanding is,

1.) it is over 15 years old so he doesn't have a leg to stand on re planning regs or anything like that.
2) the agreement was with my father, not me, he does not own the house, I do. so whatever the agreement was, was not with me and I've owned the h ouse for 8 years, and again, no objection was made.

am I right in thinking he's throwing his money away if he tries taking me to civil court over this?
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No, because if you are trying to sell your house, buyers' solicitors must be informed if there is a legal dispute, and are unlikely to want to buy it, so he may have a hold on you.

However you say "garage on my property" so if it is not on his property, I wonder what his challenge will be. I wonder why you say your father asked his permission. You have of course checked the "deeds" by getting a copy from the Land Registry to verify that it is inside your boundary and there are no obstructed access rights? If not, do. Copies are cheap.

A car-port does not usually need planning permission, but a garage might.

Your neighbour hasn't a cat in hell's chance of doing anything.

Planning Enforcement can only be done within 4 years, so you are way, way out of time;

Building regs enforcement time limit is even less, -i year;

As for the civil aspect, if he's put up with it for that length of time, you will have an easement to use his wall, and it is far too late to change his mind now.

Your neighbour must live in cloud cuckoo land if he thiks he can do anything.
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to make something clear from the previous poster.

when I say garage.

think carport. ie corrugated roof, held up by wooden posts evenly spaced down the length off the roofline.

one side the posts are attached to the side of my house. on the other, they are attached to the wall of his extension. this is why my father asked permission originally. ie can I attach these posts to your wall.

then at the front a metal garage door closes it off. at the back, a wooden wall with a door for access to the garden has been built.

all of this was done at the same time. it has never been a carport.

at the moment, he has not instigated legal action, merely hinted at it if his demands are not met. therefore, right now, I have no idea what is the legal basis for his 'challenge' because I can't see one.

the garage is entirely on my property.
its been up in that state 21 years, plus there has been a transfer of ownership since then, so the person who the original agreement was made with (my father) does not own the property.

I thought the time period for unplanned structures was fifteen years, but it would appear after crusiing through this forum that it is a four year rule, or at worst a ten year rule which I am well past anyway.

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