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Property Clinic: Poor condition of chimney on neighbouring house raises concerns over liability

Patrick O’Connor, Solicitor and Senior Partner at our firm, recently featured in The Irish Times Property Clinic. You can read the original article here and or read the full article below.

I am an attached house and my neighbour’s chimney is in disrepair. If this collapses who is at fault?


Patrick O’Connor, Solicitor and Partner

It is assumed, for the purposes of replying to your query, your “attached house” is not simply a semi-detached house with no other dwellings beside either you and your neighbour.

Furthermore, it is assumed that you and your neighbour are the owners and occupiers of the respective houses.

The advice may be different if you were in a development where there is a management company responsible for the external fabric of the buildings, such as in a block of townhouses or apartments.

It would be wise to bring the condition of the chimney to the attention of your neighbour and the local authority.

You should consider having the chimney assessed by a chartered building surveyor or structural engineer to give you a report on the nature of its disrepair and the remedial works necessary to render it safe.

If the chimney on your neighbour’s house collapses and causes personal injury to any person or damage to any property, then responsibility will lie with the owner and occupier of the property. You should not have any liability.

You should also check with your own property insurance policy to see what damage and liability is covered under the terms of it.

You should not take the law into your own hands by attempting to carry out repairs to the chimney, even as a good Samaritan for your neighbour. If you enter upon your neighbour’s house to render his chimney safe, you would be trespassing.

Finally, the local authority might be able to use its statutory powers to get your neighbours to repair their chimney of it is deemed to be a public hazard or danger.

Patrick O’Connor is a partner at P O’Connor & Son.