Q: Whilst we were away on holiday our neighbours decided to paint their fence and the paint has come through the gaps, leaving our garden furniture, decked patio and conservatory splattered with blue paint. As they are not the most co-operative of neighbours we would like to be sure of our rights regarding making them pay to put the damage right, before we tackle them about it. Please can you advise?
A: Your neighbours have a legal duty to ensure that work undertaken on their property does not cause damage to your property. If this duty is breached you are entitled to claim damages to repair any reasonably foreseeable damage caused by their actions.
Whilst the facts may appear straightforward you must provide clear evidence to prove your case, showing the condition of the damaged items both before and after the fence was painted, together with the severity of the damage to prove that the paint cannot simply be wiped off. You should also obtain three separate quotations for repair, and, if necessary, replacement costs.
Even if the relationship with your neighbours is already strained it may be worthwhile attempting to speak to them informally regarding the claim. Take an independent witness with you in case any dispute arises. If the neighbour refuses to co-operate you should send them a formal letter of claim threatening court action and tell them to pass a copy to any relevant insurer. If this elicits no acceptable result you could pursue the matter via the Small Claims Court if the claim is no more than £10,000.00), but do seek legal advice beforehand as court costs will normally be awarded against an unsuccessful party.