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'Rip it down' warning for couple whose £80k extension came too close to neighbours

News'Rip it down' warning for couple whose £80k extension came too close to neighbours

A couple must tear down their £80,000 extension and pay a six-figure sum to their neighbours after the construction encroached inches into the next-door property. Shabaz Ashraf, 45, and his wife Shakira, 40, must demolish the extension and pay £200,000 in legal fees to Avtar and Balvinder Dhinjan after a judge ruled their new build was “trespassing”. Lawyers representing the couple argued the construction encroaching on the Dhinjan’s land had caused “significant injury”, despite only exceeding the boundary by a matter of millimetres.

According to proceedings reported by the Daily Mail from Central London County Court, the Dhinjans accused the couple of deliberately building on their land.

The new extension, they argued, caused “damp and mould” to develop in their £700,000 London home.

They estimated that, while they meant to replace an extension dating from the 1970s, the new version strayed approximately 2.68 inches over the wrong side of their line.

The couple added that their roof overhung a further 3.86 inches into their land, arguing in court that, while the breaches – which amounted to 68mm and 98mm respectively – were small, it had wider repercussions on their home.

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Mr Dhinjan claimed the neighbouring couple had “intended to annoy” him and his family when they built the extension in 2019.

Representing the family, Rachel Coyle told the judge that the rebuild went beyond the 1970s boundary footprints the Ashrafs argued they had followed.

She said the encroachment was “minimal” in valuation terms but caused injury to the neighbouring land.

Ms Coyle argued that the defendants “continued course of conduct intended to annoy.”

She said: “Only removal and building it where it should be will prevent mould and damp, failing which the claimants’ extension will become virtually uninhabitable.

“The injury is not one that can be compensated in money.”

The claimants sued the Ashrafs for an injunction and demanded they tear it down.

The judge ultimately sided with the claimants, citing a joint surveyor who found the encroachment in his report.

He added that pictures showed breeze blocks were built outside the boundary, meaning the “notion that they built inside the existing boundary line” was “not sustainable”.

The judge also found that Mr and Mrs Ashraf were “on notice” that they would encroach and “that there would be a trespass” but carried on with their project.

He told the Ashrafs to declare that the fence between theirs and the Dhinjan’s home belonged to the latter family and to pay their almost £100,000 in estimated legal bills.

The Ashrafs must also pay £49,009 upfront of the approximately £200,000 in legal fees and foot the costs of tearing down and rebuilding their extension.

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