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Link-Detached Houses: Each Owner’s Rights and Responsibilities

by | Jun 7, 2024 | Blog

Home $ Blog $ Link-Detached Houses: Each Owner’s Rights and Responsibilities

When it comes to property ownership in the UK, homeowners, landlords and investors have a wealth of options to choose from. One often overlooked popular type of property is a link-detached house, which can be mistaken for a detached or an attached house. Link-detached houses, contrary to popular belief, can invariably prove more valuable in the long run. 

That said, this type of housing offers a distinct set of challenges for owners, causing confusion and raising questions about ownership responsibilities, rights, and entitlements. So, in this article, we will explore the nuances of link-detached properties, address common concerns owners have, potential disputes that could arise, possible legal implications and everything that property owners need to know regarding ownership.

Understanding Link-Detached Houses

Firstly, it’s important to establish what a link-detached house is; it’s a unique type of home that falls between a fully and a semi-detached house. 

Semi-detached houses share a common wall, whereas link-detached houses do not. The uniting factor between the neighbouring properties is a shared garage or other structure like a foundation. 

On the surface, a link-detached home bears many outward resemblances to a standard detached property. Experts consider a link-detached property to be in a class of its own regardless of its linkage to another property. They can often be considered as less noisy and disruptive given the absence of a party or shared wall and, in many cases, these homes can attract higher buying premiums than semi-detached properties. 

Using link-detached houses to climb up the property ladder is a popular move for aspiring, ambitious homeowners. They are a comfortable middle ground between owning a semi-detached and fully detached property, offering cost and privacy advantages that bridge this gap. The value of a link-detached house will typically be higher than a semi-detached house (usually 20-30%) but less than a detached house of the same size with no shared dwellings or garages. 

While these advantages are abundantly clear, it’s important that owners understand their precise rights and responsibilities pertaining to their ownership and how to address disputes regarding shared facilities.

Ownership Rights and Responsibilities 

The ownership rights and responsibilities for link-detached houses with shared facilities are as follows:

  • Each owner fully owns their respective property, including the land it sits on, as is the case with any other freehold property ownership.

  • The shared garage or connecting structure is typically owned jointly by both parties, with each having equal rights and responsibilities for its maintenance and upkeep.

  • Any modifications or alterations to the shared structure – such as extending the house above the garage or renovating it entirely – may require consent from both owners, as it could impact the neighbouring property.

Common Link-Detached Problems and Disputes

Despite the unique design of link-detached houses, several issues can arise between owners on either side of the joint structure.

The first of which relates to noise, and while link-detached houses are typically quieter than their semi-detached counterparts, noise can still travel through the shared garage and cause potential conflicts.

This can be particularly noticeable during extension or renovation work, whether it’s a full-scale home refurbishment that filters through to the garage or even upgrading the structure itself with value-enhancing GRP garage doors. Maintenance and repair of these shared facilities are usually the remits of both adjoining owners, but if one neglects to contribute, it can often spark conflict.

If one owner wishes to extend or renovate an aspect of their property that could impact the shared structure, the adjoining property owner(s) will likely need to consent and give approval in accordance with relevant building regulations. Disagreements could arise over the boundaries of each property, particularly concerning shared outdoor spaces or driveways. 

Legal Considerations

To mitigate as many disputes as possible and ensure a comfortable, conflict-free living environment, it’s vital to understand your legal rights around link-detached houses.

You are entitled to convert a link-detached garage into a living space, kitchen extension, or anything else. However, this changes the dynamics of the property, with the wall to the converted garage linking to the neighbouring house falling into the category of a party wall. Under the Party Wall Act 1996, this type of work would require formal agreements from the adjoining property owner if an existing party wall would be affected or if a new one would be present. 

When you or the other party want to extend, a garage that links properties together could prove to be the barrier. Most situations see a property owner preferring to extend above the garage which means adherence to this Act is crucial. Although most home extensions add value, link-detached units may be less fortunate as they could be seen as a way to bridge two properties closer together. 

In cases of boundary disputes, owners may need to refer to property deeds and Land Registry records, or seek the involvement of a professional third-party surveyor to establish clear boundaries. It may turn out that some properties have long-standing restrictions or covenants in place that restrict the types of modifications or renovations allowed. This will usually be communicated upfront in the property conveyancing stage, but it could be unveiled much further down the line. 

Resolving Issues with Link-Detached Houses

Should issues between link-detached house owners arise, there are several options to consider to resolve them. 

Being transparent and receptive to concerns is usually the best way to resolve disputes amicably. Showing a willingness to compromise and avoid legal action will make things much more straightforward to resolve. 

If disputes can’t be resolved through mediation or negotiation, owners may need to seek legal advice. However, in some cases, particularly when trying to avoid court, one owner may wish to effectively buy out the other owner’s claim to shared premises, effectively segregating the properties. While one party may be willing to acquiesce, there will still need to be legal agreements, valuations and planning permission (in some cases, for example, if a property is under permitted development) for ownership adjustments. However, avoiding court usually makes this entire process more amicable.

Ultimately, being a good neighbour pays off handsomely. Discuss any plans or concerns with your neighbours in advance to avoid misunderstandings. If extension or renovation work has been agreed upon, be mindful and empathetic towards noise levels. Be willing to find a mutually beneficial solution to disputes or disagreements instead of being resistant to change.

Is Investing in a Link-Detached House Worth It?

It’s no secret that link-detached houses offer benefits and while they may not be the first choice for every home buyer, they do provide a comfortable living experience. You acquire the privacy of detached housing for a slightly better price, but they do present occasional noise and dispute challenges. However, depending on the area and, of course, the relationship that you build with your neighbours, they can be worthwhile investments. 

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donnell-bailey

Donnell Bailey

Property expert

Donnell is a property expert focusing on the property market, he looks at a combination of legislation, information from property managers, letting agents and market trends to produce information to help landlords.