A couple who built an £80,000 extension on their neighbour’s garden and told them to ‘go to court’ have been ordered to demolish it and pay £200,000 in legal fees.
Shabaz Ashraf, 45, and his wife Shakira, 40, were ordered by a judge to tear down the extension to their £700,000 London home after their neighbors accused them of deliberately building on their land and causing ‘moisture and mould’ in their homes. their house.
The Ashrafs estimate they spent £80,000 replacing a 1970s extension at the back of their house, only for neighbors Avtar and Balvinder Dhinjan to complain that it was inches over their boundary.
Mr and Mrs Dhinjan said the new extension strayed 2.68 inches onto their land, with a roof crossing 3.86 inches on the wrong side of the line.
Dhinjan claimed his neighbors “intended to annoy him and his family” by building across the border between their homes in 2019.
Shabaz Ashraf, 45, and his wife Shakira, 40, were ordered to demolish the extension of their £700,000 London home
The Ashrafs were found to have built the extension to their home (left) two inches above the boundary of their neighbors’ property (right)
While admitting that the ‘encroachment’ across their border is very small, the Dhinjans complained that their neighbors’ extension makes their own house damp and ‘mouldy’ because it is so close to their wall that it leaves no room for air to circulate outside.
They filed a lawsuit in Central London County Court demanding an injunction to force the Ashrafs to demolish the advancing wall.
A judge criticized the “high-handed” neighbors for being “off limits” and ordered them to tear down the offending wall.
Mr and Mrs Ashraf had defended the case saying they built the new extension on the footprint of the 1970s and each infringement had been going on for over 40 years giving them squatters’ rights.
But Rachel Coyle, on behalf of the Dhinjans, told the judge that the 2019 refurb went beyond the footprint of the old extension and as a result lay ‘flat’ against the outside wall of their home.
“There was an encroachment which, although de minimis (minimum) in terms of appraisal, does significant damage to the land belonging to the plaintiffs,” their lawyer argued.
“The suspects’ continued behavior was intended to annoy.
‘Only remove and build where it belongs prevents mold and moisture, otherwise the plaintiffs’ extension will become virtually uninhabitable.
“The injury cannot be compensated in money,” she said.
The judge said: ‘One of the sad features of the case is that before the parties started building new extensions to the rear of their property, they were living in harmony and on good terms.
“The defendants say they built the wall on exactly the same spot as the previous wall, which stood for 41 years. I find that, as far as the defendants are aware, that is completely untrue.
Avtar Dhinjan, right, (pictured with his son Gurpeet outside court) and his wife won the case against their neighbors over the extension
A judge said the Ashrafs had acted in an “indiscriminate” manner in the dispute between the neighboring houses
‘The joint expert-expert concluded in his report that there was an impairment of 68 mm.
“I can see from the photos that the wind blocks were built outside the existing boundary, so the idea that they were built within the existing boundary line is not tenable because the photos show where the existing boundary line is. Their new wall is clearly outside that wall.
“The wall erected by the defendants affects the land of the plaintiffs.
“On this basis, plaintiffs have advanced their plea for an injunction. They say this is a case where the defendants acted arbitrarily all along and deliberately overruled the plaintiffs when they said there was encroachment on their land.”
The judge ruled that in April 2019, Mr and Mrs Ashraf were ‘aware that they would intrude and there would be a breach’, but went ahead with their project regardless.
He found that during an argument over the matter, Ms. Ashraf had said to her neighbors, “If you think we’ve come over, go to court.”
The Ashrafs have been ordered to demolish the extension to their house (right) and pay thousands of legal fees
The judge also ordered the Ashrafs to make a statement that the fence between the two houses belongs to the Dhinjans.
As well as paying their own costs, he ordered Mr and Mrs Ashraf to pay their neighbours’ legal bills – estimated at nearly £100,000, with £49,009 upfront.
The total cost of the case was estimated by lawyers out of court to be around £200,000, to which Mr and Mrs Ashraf will add the costs of demolishing and rebuilding their extension.