Rachel Coyle secures injunction to enforce demolition of extension in high-profile boundary dispute

May 19, 2023

New Exchange Chambers member Rachel Coyle has successfully secured an injunction to enforce the demolition of an extension in a high-profile boundary dispute.

Shabaz and Shakira Ashraf must demolish a house extension to their London home after it was ruled to have been built about two inches over the boundary.

The couple said that they had spent £80,000 replacing an extension from the 1970s at the back of their house in Redbridge, northeast London, with a modern structure.

Avtar and Balvinder Dhinjan, the neighbours and former friends, complained that the new extension went over the legal line between their properties.

The Dhinjans and their son, Gurpreet, argued that the extension, built in 2019, crossed 2.68 inches on to their land with an overhang at roof level of 3.86 inches.

A judge at Central London county court agreed.

The Dhinjans accepted that the “encroachment” over their border was very small but they argued in court that the extension made their own house damp and mouldy. It was so close to their wall, they said, that it left no room for air to circulate.

In their claim against the Ashrafs, the Dhinjans demanded an injunction to enforce the demolition of the encroaching wall.

Judge Richard Roberts granted the injunction and criticised the Ashrafs for a “high-handed” approach that amounted to “trespassing”.

The Ashrafs had defended the case, arguing that they had built the extension on the footprint of the 1970s original and that any encroachment must have existed for more than 40 years, effectively giving them squatters’ rights.

Rachel Coyle, representing the Dhinjans, argued in court that the rebuild had gone beyond the footprint of the previous extension and was “flush” against the outer wall of the neighbours’ house as a result.

She added that the Ashrafs’ “continued course of conduct intended to annoy”.

Ms Coyle also maintained that financial compensation would not be acceptable and “only removal” of the extension would “prevent mould and damp”.

The judge found that the Ashrafs had been put “on notice that they would be encroaching and that there would be a trespass” but had continued with the project regardless.

He noted that Shakira Ashraf had said to her neighbours during a row over the issue: “If you think we have come over, then go to court.”

The judge said that “from the very get-go, the defendants, when confronted with the fact that this would be a trespass, have simply ignored it and said “go to court”.

He said that the Ashrafs “acted in a high-handed manner and have simply not told the truth from the very start . . .”

The judge issued an injunction that directed the Ashrafs to remove the extension wall and reinstate a fencepost that had been removed. He also made a declaration that the fence between the two houses belongs to the Dhinjans.

Rachel Coyle is a specialist property barrister and acts in all types of property disputes (residential and commercial).  She starts at Exchange Chambers on 19 June 2023.