Scope of the right of support from an adjoining building

Where one building enjoys a right of support in respect of  its neighbour and that support is removed without adequate replacement then the neighbour can be liable in respect of damage caused to the dominant tenement by wind flows. This is not a separate easement of protection from the weather but an aspect of the right of support. Further, when the owner of one of two adjoining properties demolishes the dividing wall between them he owes a duty of care when he foresees that the demolition will cause damage to the other property. He must take reasonable steps to prevent or minimise the known risk of damage.

Rees v Skerrett ([2001] EWCA Civ. 760, CA (Eng)) concerned two houses 14 and 14A Hastings Street Plymouth. They were divided by an internal wall. It was acknowledged that 14 had a right of support from 14A. 14A was demolished by its owners but nothing was done to shore up the (now exposed) wall to replace the support that 14A had provided. As a result, the flow of wind around the property severely damaged number 14. In Phipps v Pears it had been decided (in a case where there was no right of support) that there was no easement of protection from the weather. Nevertheless, it was decided that the owner of 14A was liable for the damage caused. The right to protection from the damage caused by the flow of wind around the property was an aspect of the right of support. It was also decided that the owner of 14A was liable in negligence. When the owner of one of two adjoining properties demolishes the dividing wall between them he owes a duty of care when he foresees that the demolition will cause damage to the other property. He must take reasonable steps to prevent or minimise the known risk of damage.

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