Removal of Guttering Leads to Costly Court Battle

Disagreements between neighbours over where the boundary between their properties lies can ultimately lead to litigation costs far exceeding the value of the land in question. In a widely reported case, the removal of guttering that allegedly overhung a neighbouring property resulted in a court appearance.

A couple claimed that their neighbour had ripped out guttering at their home. They brought legal action against her, claiming that she had trespassed onto their land, and are seeking nearly £2,000 for repairs. They argue that the guttering was wholly on their own land, the boundary between the two properties being five inches beyond the wall separating them. They allege that their neighbour had, over time, gradually moved the boundaries at the front and back further into their property.

Their neighbour claims that the guttering extended onto her own property and that rainwater leaked onto her land. She is countersuing for trespass, encroachment and damage. Seeking £85,000 in compensation for reduction in the value of her home, she alleges, amongst other things, that the couple's daughter played the drums at a 'deafening' level for 40 minutes a day on average. The couple maintain that their daughter, who was taking her Grade 5 Drum exam, played only once a week, on a set of dampened drums which lowered noise levels.

The judge warned that litigation over such a small amount of land would be expensive, with the losing party likely to face legal costs of £150,000.