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Communal chimney needs work, no response from neighbours - where do we stand legally? (long, sorry)

(5 Posts)
KirstyJC Mon 13-May-13 21:36:50

Help! We share a chimney with next door, and there is a problem with damp coming in. We have had loads of people out, got the cheapest quote for the work and the builder was in communication with next door (they live abroad but we agreed direct contact via their letting agent).

The properties are laid out strangely, in that the entire chimney stack is in our loft - we can walk around it - but they have at least one flue in it (4 pots, might be 3 of ours?).

We asked them to contribute 40% of the costs, which is what the builder said he felt would be fair.

Initially we got an email from them confirming that they had got the quote and asking for a more detailed breakdown. They also mentioned they were going to ask him if it would be beneficial to cap their pot as it wasn't in use. So far, so good I thought - they seem to be accepting that some work needed to be done and that they might need to pay for some of it.

Then today, about 3 weeks after this last email, I got a message from the builder saying that as he hasn't heard anything more from the neighbour he is now pulling out of the job!

I am furious - partly with the builder, who took nearly 3 weeks to get back with the breakdown and now suddenly thinks he can't wait that long himself for someone to get back to him, and also with the neighbour.

I am wondering if the builder now doesn't want to do it and is making an excuse, but what pisses me off is that there has been no further contact - he hasn't asked if we wanted him to go ahead and do it all ourselves (which we might, it would need to be done anyway) - he has just pulled out.

But, where do we stand legally with getting the neighbour to pay something? It is his chimney stack as well, and surely if he fails to maintain it and our property is damaged as a result, which it will be if the damp continues, he has a responsibility too? Insurance wouldn't pay out against a failure to maintain or rectify a known problem so we would be screwed.

Is there anything we can do to make him pay his share? I feel morally he should but what about legally? We really can't afford this - we have 24p in savings so need to get a loan, but can't get the whole lot done ourselves without knowing we can get some back soon.

KirstyJC Tue 14-May-13 07:34:19


PragmaticWench Tue 14-May-13 11:45:12

I know it's money but have you thought about speaking with a solicitor/conveyancer? The Deeds might shed more light on a shared chimney stack if you can't find the info online.

Hopefully someone with more knowledge will be along soon...

cooper44 Tue 14-May-13 14:26:39

I had to get a shared chimney sorted last year as it was in a very bad way. Everyone who shared it paid an equal share.
I checked this with sol when we were buying as our vendor implied it was just our responsibilty. You probably need legal advice if they're not playing ball.

KirstyJC Tue 14-May-13 16:04:07

Thanks Cooper44 that is helpful to know. I don't actually know if they're not playing ball or not!

They have only contacted me once, to tell me that they were waiting for a more detailed breakdown of costs. Fair enough really, if someone I have never met told me I needed to pay a couple of grand to repair damage I haven't seen as I am in another country, I would want more details too!

That was the last I heard from them, and the builder just sent an email to me last night saying that as he wasn't getting anywhere with the owner he was pulling out. That is it. No more details or anything, which is why I wanted to try and get more info on the legal position before I contact the neighbour directly.

Their original email to me seems promising, in that they did actually contact me and made a comment about something else that the builder could do while he was up there, but nothing since.

Basically I have no reason to suspect they aren't going to pay their share I just needed to know if they actually have to or not.

I will try and word an email to them later on.

Thanks for the replies so

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