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AIBU to feel a tad harrassed or should I just resolve party wall issue before it gets worse?

(17 Posts)
whatisitnow Tue 16-Aug-11 10:30:49

Yet another neighbour thread - sorry grin

I live in an end terraced house, so share just one wall with next-door neighbours who are now wanting to sell. During months and months of renovations they have come to our door on several occasions, eg. to "helpfully" offer use of their ladder so we can clean our gutters, to "helpfully" let us know that the council could trim back trees in our garden and let in more light etc. At first I was a bit hmm that they were asking (albeit in a roundabout way) us to do things to our property, but let's face it, they just want to sell their house and not have potential viewers put off by the houses on either side. Not that there is anything wrong with our house thankyou very much, it's more that they have done up their own house to within an inch of its life. Possibly now it is the best house on a bad street, IYSWIM?

Anyway an ongoing issue has been the overflow pipe from our hot water cylinder dripping/trickling/gushing water out the back of our house - we can't afford to fix it right now as DP is the only one working (I am on mat leave until Oct). They know this. They also know we've taken steps to minimise damage in the meantime by placing a huge water butt/bucket under the leak, emptying it regularly and running our taps as much as possible to prevent too much overflow.

A monumental waste of water and a huge palava, you may say, but almost all of this is being used for dishes, plants, baths etc.

Last night the neighbour came to the door to let us know their property is now officially on the market, but the result of their home survey was "perfect" apart from - you guessed it - damp at one end of the party wall, from outside to just in behind his fireplace (about 5 metres). He said "he just knew" it was due to our leaking overflow pipe. He has requested we get someone to look at the wall on our side and get something in writing so that they can get their survey amended to say the damage is only temporary (ie. it will dry out once we get the godforsaken leak fixed).

Should I go round there (and be very nice of course) with a notepad and document exactly what it is they want us to do, see if there are any other issues that need to be resolved and explain again that we will get a plumber out as soon as we can afford one? The male neighbour is a jack of all trades, would I be cheeky to ask him to check our water cylinder himself and if it's just a case of replacing a valve we'll do it right away?

I would have posted this in Property but I'm looking for some honest and straight-talking MN advice as to how to resolve this in the first instance. Thanks in advance and apologies for the essay!

toniguy Tue 16-Aug-11 10:39:57

My first reaction is that if some defect with your property is causing damage to theirs, then you have an obligation to rectify it. So although you feel you cant afford it right now, potentially you could be looking at a much bigger bill if your current or future neighbours take action.

Muckyhighchair Tue 16-Aug-11 10:43:54

I had the exact same issue at my last house, turned out the lid wasn't on the cylinder correctly and had bust the value, dp managed to do it himself fine.

And this was is a bloke who can't even put a bed together

toniguy Tue 16-Aug-11 10:44:58

Sorry that was a bit of an abrupt response to a long op! Just wanted to add that you sound very reasonable and not the type who are wanting to antagonise your neighbour at all, so I wasn't implying that you're being deliberately inconsiderate. Just that if the neighbour is correct and your pipe is causing damage, then you have no option but to get repairs done. And the longer the damage goes on, the more expensive 'the problem. Btw I would get someone totally independent in to do any repairs or replacements, I do think it's a bit of a cheek to ask him to look at things, but others may disagree on that

whatisitnow Tue 16-Aug-11 10:46:48

Thanks toni, that's kind of what I was thinking. The other things they've been picky about have just been aesthetic (and okay, aesthetics are everything when you're trying to shift a house) but if this is possibly going to become a legal dispute then I want to nip it in the bud.

grumpypants Tue 16-Aug-11 10:47:27

I THINK THERE IS SOME SORT OF OBLIGATION ON YOU TO MAIN TAIN THE PARTY WALL, SO WILL (oops sorry!) do some googling

Dignified Tue 16-Aug-11 10:48:35

I think hes being very decent under the crcumstances . If it is caused by this leak ( and it sounds like it is ) you are obliged to repair it and also obliged to pay for any damage its caused to his property . My neighbour refused to deal with a similar problem causing a thousand pounds worth of work to be done in our house , which he wouldnt pay for .

He sounds like hes been very reasonable so far , but now hes trying to sell and its coming up on his survey , his patience might run out . ( I would not buy a house with damp caused by a neighbour ) . Why not call round , explain you cant afford to get it done , but is there any possibility that he would look at it for you ?

squeakytoy Tue 16-Aug-11 10:49:36

The water cylinder job is a very simple and inexpensive one to repair. It is also very very very annoying if there is water drip drip dripping constantly by an open window.

NoMoreWasabi Tue 16-Aug-11 10:50:28

If your leak is in fact causing damp into their property (and this is worth checking) then I’m afraid as the adjoining owner I wouldn’t be interested in your financial position, I’d expect you to get it sorted out. You could ask him to have a look and he might be willing to in the interests of trying to get it resolved but I don’t think saying “I can’t afford it” is really fair to be honest. Also the longer you tleave this the worse it will get. So yes, go around and discuss it but I presume the first thing they want you to do is get the leak sorted.

JanMorrow Tue 16-Aug-11 10:50:54

I would scrape the money together myself. If there is long term damage to their property you'll be in for a much bigger bill, I'd do everything I could to fix it for everyones sakes!

whatisitnow Tue 16-Aug-11 10:53:03

ooh cheers mucky, I may get DP to take a look at it tonight then - it could be something as simple as that.

The reason I mentioned asking our neighbour to take a look at it is because when he offered to lend us his ladder to clean our gutters we said "oh, er, thanks", but when DP went to go up the ladder he almost fell off, it was so wobbly! He went to hand the ladder back to the neighbour who was a bit offended and said "look I'll do it for you if you like!" Very helpful on the surface but also coming across as almost desperate for us to improve our house so they can sell theirs, you know?

grumpypants Tue 16-Aug-11 10:54:37

www.partywalladvice.com/2010/04/17/roof-is-leaking-and-damaging-the-party-wall/
this site might be useful?

whatisitnow Tue 16-Aug-11 10:57:10

Thanks for the advice - I am wanting to get things resolved so it doesn't become a legal thing, I think that speaking to them properly and letting them know exactly what course of action we will be taking to fix it is the way forward.

Will also try and scrape together some money to fix it, if it's something simple then no problem but I am just a bit stressed that irreparable damage may have already been done...

whatisitnow Tue 16-Aug-11 10:58:22

cheers grumpypants!

smoggii Tue 16-Aug-11 11:00:11

If your neighbour knows a bit ask him if he'll look at it, and guide your DP on what needs doing. You do need to be careful, if your leak is causing damage to their property it could end up costing you a lot long term so it may be the case that you can't afford not to get it sorted.

whatisitnow Tue 16-Aug-11 12:48:01

Hmmm, just told DP about some of the helpful answers here and he is just getting defensive, saying "we'll do it when we can afford it" and that's that.

I've warned him not to make it personal because it is now a legal issue, but we'll see how that goes.

Dignified Tue 16-Aug-11 13:22:55

Your partners being very very unreasonable , if its not resolved theres going to be a huge bill .

When this happened to me i was also reasonable , too reasonable perhaps . Two walls were badly affected by damp and had to be chipped right back to the bricks and all replastered , redecororated ect . After asking him countless times i contacted enviromental health , they said they could make some sort of order to make him do it , but in the end we spoke to our insurance who took it up with their insurance . He wasnt happy .

By not doing these repairs youll be jepordizing his chance of a sale , most people have legal cover on their house insurance , you really dont want it to come to that , it sounds like your neighbours have been very reasonable so far .

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