According to a Barratt Homes survey, approximately 58% of the UK population lives in terraced and semi-detached homes, meaning over half of us share party walls with our neighbours. Whilst this is an efficient and more cost-effective housing option, it does present the possibility of issues crossing property boundaries from your neighbour’s house to yours through your shared wall.
One such issue is damp. Many people wonder if damp can spread from their neighbour’s house to their house, and the answer is yes, it can, although it depends on the type of damp.
Penetrating damp is a common type of damp and is the most likely type to spread from your neighbour’s house to yours or vice versa. Whilst your property’s doors, windows, and roof may be secure and properly sealed, that doesn’t mean your neighbours have taken the same precautions. This means if your neighbours fail to keep on top of general property maintenance, your house could be affected.
Unfortunately, once damp has settled into building materials like pointing, it will spread as far as it feasibly can. Damp doesn’t recognise property lines or party walls, so there’s every chance that if your neighbour has incurred a penetrating damp issue close to your shared boundary, it would begin to affect your property, too.
For example, blocked or defective guttering is a prime cause of penetrating damp. If the area in which your neighbour’s guttering has failed happens to be on the edge closest to your property and your property wall, there’s every chance the penetrating damp could seep through to your property due to its proximity.
Another common type of damp is rising damp. Like penetrating damp, it’s possible that rising damp can spread from your neighbour’s house to yours if the issue isn’t sorted and is allowed to spread.
Rising damp occurs when a damp proof course (DPC) has failed. Typically speaking, DPCs need to be replaced every 25-30 years to keep in full working order. This means it’s usually older properties that fall victim to rising damp, but it can also occur when the DPC has been bridged by putting items against the exterior wall above the DPC. For example, a bag of compost butted against a wall will attract moisture and retain rainwater. If left, the moisture could make its way above the DPC and into the porous bricks, resulting in damp.
If this happens too close to your shared party wall, it’s possible that over time, the damp could spread across property boundaries.
If you notice that your neighbour has a damp issue, you might be wondering how you can approach the subject. The first step is to try and have a friendly chat – it’s possible they aren’t aware that the damp has spread to your property, and if they’re reasonable, they may be more than open to having a damp survey and remedying the cause.
Unfortunately, not all neighbours will be so amicable. In this case, it’s best for you to arrange for a damp surveyor to come in and take a look at the issue from your property. At Garratt’s Damp, we offer a free site survey service whereby we come out and assess the issue. We can tell you what type of damp your property is suffering from, and more importantly, where it’s coming from. We can also offer you tips on how to prevent damp in the future and how to solve the issue at hand (if it’s your responsibility).
Dry rot can also migrate from a neighbouring property across the party wall, dry rot can be very destructive to timbers and plasters alike
If it turns out that the cause of damp in your property is not your fault and your neighbours aren’t amicable on the issue, you will need to contact the private housing department at your local council. They can serve your neighbours with a notice to solve the damp issue and take reasonable damp prevention steps to stop it from happening again in the future.
There’s no guarantee that your neighbour will take notice of the council order and instead decide to have their own damp survey carried out or contest the notice in court. In this case, whilst it’s far from ideal, you can rest easy in the knowledge that you have professional damp survey results of your own that prove where the damp has come from, so you should be able to force action, provided you have your own independent damp survey results.
This can cause friction between you and your neighbour, and sometimes, it might even be that no one is living in the property next to you and instead it’s vacant. In this case, speak to the council and again, get a damp survey carried out.
If you think your neighbour’s property is causing damp in your home, we can carry out an independent damp survey to verify the type of damp and its cause. We can also suggest damp proofing techniques such as basement tanking to prevent further issues in the future and give you a no-obligation quote for treatment.
Get in touch with us to find out more.
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