Q: Due to COVID19 travel restrictions we had not visited our holiday cottage for over a year until last week. Instead of the enjoyable, long awaited break we hoped for, however, it was a nightmare. Our neighbour had built himself a pond and large wooden leisure structure, clearly using our land as access without our permission. Our fence, which he must have temporarily removed, is damaged and our garden is a quagmire as the pond is leaking into our garden. His place is also a holiday home, and no-one appeared whilst we were down there. We were told by another neighbour that he is aware of the problems he has caused us but seems unconcerned. What should we do?
A: Firstly, your neighbour broke the law by trespassing on your land. In law trespass is defined as any “intentional direct interference” with a person’s possession of land without their consent. By entering your property, removing your fence, and allowing water to escape from his pond across your property, your neighbour has interfered with your land.
Seemingly the biggest problem is the continuous discharge of water which you clearly need to stop immediately. You can apply to the court for compensatory damages for the trespass and can also apply for an injunction order requiring the neighbour to repair the leak that is causing the flow of water onto your land. In addition, you could claim damages for the nuisance of this unlawful interference with your use or enjoyment of land.
However, before starting any court action it would be wise to try and meet with your neighbour to discuss the problems amicably. If this fails to bring a result, write and tell him you will be taking the matter to court. A solicitor with experience of handling the complex areas of trespass law and resolving disputes will be able to help you.
This question has been answered by James Denton, a Solicitor with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. In accordance with government guidelines, most of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.
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