Six property rules you should know – from noisy neighbours to invasive weeds

Phil Spencer on challenges in UK property market

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Making decorative changes inside your home is easy to do, but it can be much more difficult when it comes to your garden or the structure of your property. Neighbours and boundary rules are just some of the factors that you have to consider while doing small things like painting a garden fence, but what are your rights as the homeowner? reveals the top six property rights you should know.

You don’t have to put up with noisy neighbours

Noisy neighbours can be a nuisance for several reasons, yet many homeowners choose not to address the issue.

While it can be a tricky conversation to have with the people living next door, the law states that there is no reason why you should have to grin and bear it.

If you live in England or Wales and the neighbours in question are tenants, Schedule 2 (Ground 2) of the Housing Act 1985 allows excessive noise nuisance to be possible grounds for eviction.

For homeowners, it is down to councils, housing associations and the police to exercise their powers to tackle anti-social noise from residential premises under Part 1 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

You don’t need permission to paint your side of the fence

Fence ownership is a common grey area for neighbours, especially when the panels sit right on the boundary of the land.

While you don’t need permission from your neighbours before changing your own fencing, you will first need to be sure that it is in fact yours.

There are a few ways to work this out using the documentation for your property, but where should you begin?

If the fencing on your property borders your neighbour’s land, you will need to first locate the boundary.

You can check the deed to your house to find this, and it should make it clear as to who owns which side of the fence.

Some deeds are out of date, in which case you will need to search the Registry of Deeds (ROD) to look for historical records on your property.

The (ROD) maintains records of land that are not available through the Land Registry.

You can also check the title plans to determine which side of the fence you own.

Title plans feature a ‘T’ mark to indicate the boundary of the property, as well as who is liable to maintain them.

A ‘T’ on one side shows clear ownership, but a ‘T’ marked on both sides means that the responsibility should be shared between both neighbours.

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You don’t always need planning permission

According to the Planning Portal, rules known as ‘permitted development’ rights allow you to extend a house without needing to apply for planning permission, but only if specific limitations and conditions are met.

These rules apply in the context of the proposed extension and any previous extensions, to account for the “total enlargement” of the property.

The criteria includes, but is not limited to, the following requirements:

  • Only half the area of land around the “original house” can be covered by extensions or other buildings
  • Extensions cannot be higher than the highest part of the existing roof; or higher at the eaves than the existing eaves
  • The materials used in any exterior work must be of a similar appearance to those on the exterior of the existing house

You can partially protect the view from your property

In law, there is no right to a “view” from residential properties, but it can be partially protected if it is considered an “annoyance”.

The case of Dennis v Davies showed that if you have the benefit of a restrictive covenant against neighbouring land not to cause “nuisance or annoyance”, then the “annoyance” factor can be used to protect a view.

While this was an exceptional case, it is worth noting if you find yourself in a similar situation.

You have a right to light in your home

According to the Yopa, you do have rights when it comes to your property receiving natural sunlight.

The Rights of Light Act (1959), states that a neighbour can give this right to another neighbour or it can be acquired over time.

For example, if a property has received daylight for at least the last 20 years, you are entitled to continue to receive that light.

Equally, you are allowed some measure of action should an offending tree or shrub be blocking light from your garden.

You can take legal action against invasive weeds growing on your property

Japanese knotweed is an expensive nuisance for homeowners in the UK, and it can be even more frustrating when it originates from your neighbours’ property.

According to the Japanese Knotweed Expert, your neighbour is under no legal obligation to remove Japanese knotweed growing on their property. However, if it starts to encroach upon your property, they are causing a private nuisance and therefore are open to court action.

They said: “Do not take legal action until you have let them know about the issue, as they may not be aware.

“If they are reluctant, simply explain the damage it can do to their property and recommend they research it themselves. This should be enough to encourage them

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