What Can You Do if Your Neighbour Has Damp?
28 December 2021
Your property is potentially the most expensive and important purchase that you are ever going to make – so if you live in a terraced house, or semi-detached property, you may become concerned if your neighbour has a damp issue that they leave untreated, that will slowly make its way to your properties walls.
The question though is what powers and rights do you have as a property owner to either prompt or force a neighbour into treating their damp? Hopefully, we provide the answers you need here.
Can Damp on a Neighbours Property Affect My Own?
The short answer here is absolutely. Damp, in all its forms, is a problem that if left untreated can easily spread and infest a growing area of a home.
So, let’s assume that a neighbouring property to your own has rising damp, and that their damp proof course has failed close to the property line at which their exterior walls become your own.
Rising damp is a process in which water is pulled upwards into a properties walls via the process of capillary action, and only gets worse at times of heavy rain. So, if your neighbours property has rising damp, then you can bet that over time the amount of moisture in their walls will increase, the damp will spread and eventually you could find that the damp is now in your walls.
The same goes for penetrating damp. Penetrating damp is a form of damp that is found in properties experiencing a failure in certain aspects of their building materials. Take leaking guttering for example. If your neighbour’s property has guttering that is overflowing and cascading down the side of their property, that overflow will eventually cause the pointing in the wall to fail and damp to set in the wall itself.
Now, if that guttering leak happens to be close to the line at which your neighbour’s property becomes your own then you can expect that over time the damp will cross the boundary onto your own property, and for your home to now suffer from the same damp that stems from your neighbour’s property, and the issues therein.
The problem is that in both of these situations your damp problems aren’t going to go anywhere until a damp survey has been completed, the source of the damp rooted out, and damp proofing undertaken.
So, what can you do if your neighbour is ignoring or refusing to acknowledge that they have a damp problem?
Have a Friendly Chat
If you believe that your neighbour may have genuinely not noticed the damp spreading onto your property, or if they are reasonable enough to listen to a request then it’s always worth having a polite word with them before anything else.
You may find that your neighbours are more than amicable, and agree to have their property surveyed to ascertain the cause of the damp. Once this is done, they may choose to have that damp treated of their own volition.
All of this is perfectly reasonable, and could well save you a lot of stress that would no doubt occur if you were instead to move to a confrontational approach or even a legal one without approaching the other owners first. However, your issues might not always be able to be solved with a polite request, or friendly suggestions.
What to Do if Your Neighbour Ignores Rising Damp in a Party Wall
A party wall is an official term for a wall that is shared by two different property owners – an interior wall connecting two semi detached properties for example could be considered a party wall. So, if you notice that damp has started to show on a party wall, or any wall shared by you and your neighbour and you are unsure as to who is responsible for its presence, then you need to establish the cause.
Now, if your neighbour is ignoring or refusing to act on the damp, it may well be time for you to engage a damp surveyor for their services just to establish where the damp is coming from. With a damp survey from a trained and accredited individual, you will not only get results on what kind of damp your property has, but also how it managed to set in the property and what actions should be taken to remedy the damp, and stop it from returning in the future.
Once these findings have been presented to you by the surveyor, it will become clear if the damp is a product of your property and its faults, or your neighbours. If the damp turns out to be your responsibility then your damp survey will include the actions necessary to complete damp proofing, and you can move ahead with those.
However, if your damp survey returns results that include the cause of the damp problem being from your neighbour’s property it isn’t so simple. You may need to get in touch with your local council and speak to the private housing team. It may well be the case that you need a governing body to get in touch with and serve a notice to your neighbours to have the damp treated to stop it from affecting your property in the future.
Whilst this seems straightforward, it could prove more difficult than you initially thought if your neighbour decides that they would like an independent survey completed, or that they would like to challenge the notice in court.
In both these situations, the fact that you already consulted with a qualified damp surveyor should provide ample peace of mind that the results of an additional survey or court appointment should fall in your favour, as you have already had a professional identify and highlight the probable cause of the damp, and as a result, whose fault it is.
This might not be the ideal outcome – and it could put you on bad terms with your neighbours. However, if their inaction has caused property damage to your home (or any building that you might own), then making sure you have survey results provided by a qualified professional can help dramatically when reaching out to local authorities in trying to force action.
Tackling Damp in Your Property
Damp appearing is never an easy situation to find yourself in. if you have discovered damp on your property, either as a result of a neighbours property failing or just as an unexpected and unwelcome surprise on your own property, then get in touch with our damp proofing team today.
Not only can we provide a comprehensive damp survey that can identify the cause of the damp as well as the steps needed in order to remedy the situation, but we can provide further advice on how to handle damp in your property in general.
Call 0800 288 8660 or get in touch with our team online here.