The couple said they should demolish an £80,000 extension that goes two inches beyond the border | UK News
A couple who urged neighbors to “go to court” when they complained that their £80,000 extension had “invaded” their garden have been ordered to tear it down and pay the £200,000 cost.
Shabaz Ashraf, 45, and wife Shakira, 40, have been ordered to demolish the annexe to their £700,000 London home because it was built just over two inches too close to the house next door.
The couple estimate they spent £80,000 to demolish a 1970s extension at the rear of their home in Ridgeway Gardens, Redbridge, and replace it with a modern one.
But former friends Avtar and Balvinder Dhinjan, who lived next door to them, complained that it was millimeters over the boundary between their properties.
The couple, aided by their son Gurpreet, said the new extension fell 68mm or 2.68 inches onto their land, with a roof-level overhang of 98mm or 3.86 inches on the wrong side of the line.
Mr Dhinjan, a former Ford car factory worker, claimed his neighbors “intended to annoy him and his family” by building across the boundary between their homes in 2019.
While accepting the “intrusion,” they complain that the addition makes their house damp and “mouldy” because there isn’t enough space between the outside walls for air to circulate.
They sued Central London County Court, demanding an injunction that would force the Ashrafs to tear down the encroaching wall.
Now Judge Richard Roberts has awarded them victory, slamming their “high-handed” neighbors for “trespassing” and ordering them to tear down the offending wall and withdraw them.
Mr and Mrs Ashraf had defended the case, stating that they had built the new extension to a 1970s layout and that any intervention must have been going on for over 40 years, giving them squatter rights.
But Rachel Coyle of the Dhinjans told the judge the 2019 remodeling went beyond the footprint of the old extension and is therefore “flush” with the outside wall of their home.
“There was an intrusion which, while small in value, is causing significant damage to plaintiffs’ land,” she argued.
The continued behavior of the accused is intended to annoy.
“Only the demolition and installation in the intended place prevents mold and moisture, otherwise the plaintiffs’ extension will become practically uninhabitable.
“The injury is not one that can be compensated in money.”
In making his decision, the judge said: “One of the sad features of the case is that before the parties began building new additions behind their property, the parties lived in harmony and got along well.
“The defendants say they built the wall on the exact same spot as the previous wall, which was in position for 41 years. To the knowledge of the defendants, I think this is completely wrong.
“The Joint Expert concluded in his report that there was an intrusion of 68mm.
“I can see from the images that the concrete blocks were built outside of the existing boundary, so the notion that they were built within the existing boundary line is untenable as the images show where the existing boundary line is. Your new wall is clearly outside of this wall.
“The wall erected by the defendants encroaches on the land of the plaintiffs.
“On this basis, the plaintiffs have asserted their claim for injunctive relief. They say this is a case in which the defendants consistently acted in a high-handed manner and intentionally overruled the plaintiffs when they said there had been an encroachment on their country.’
The judge found that by April 2019 Mr and Mrs Ashraf “were aware that they would intervene and that trespassing would occur” but went ahead with their project nonetheless.
He found that Ms Ashraf had said to her neighbors during an argument about the matter: “If you think we came over then go to court.”
The judge added: “That’s exactly what they said on April 29: ‘If you think we came by, go to court. We will only move the wall if the court tells us to.”
“From the outset, when confronted with the idea that this was trespassing, the defendants simply ignored it and said, ‘Go to court’.
“This is a case where the defendants acted in a high-handed manner and simply did not tell the truth from the start, and when told there was a problem here, went ahead anyway.”
The judge said he would issue an injunction ordering the Ashrafs to remove their extension wall.
He also asked them to put back a fence post they had removed, explaining that the fence between the two houses belonged to the dhinjans.
As well as paying Mr and Mrs Ashraf their own expenses, he also had to pay their neighbors’ lawyers’ bills – estimated at almost £100,000, with £49,009 upfront.
The total cost of the case has been estimated by extrajudicial solicitors to be around £200,000, of which Mr and Mrs Ashraf will incur the cost of demolishing and rebuilding their annexe.
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