Must we pay solicitor's bill for stopping neighbour park his truck?

Our managing agent used solicitors to stop our neighbour from parking his truck outside, now we are worried we’ll get landed with the bill

  • Instructing a solicitor has stopped neighbour from parking their truck nearby 
  • Concerns remain about whether the neighbour’s landlord will pick up legal bill  
  • A former judge advises if you will be legally liable for the lawyers’ £1,779.60 bill

Our next-door neighbour was parking his huge commercial diesel 3.5 tonne flatbed highway maintenance vehicle in a parking space in our development. At times, there were two or three of these trucks parked in various places.

In December 2021, we complained to our development’s managing agents.

Both our neighbour – who is a tenant – and his landlord – who is the owner of the house next door but does not live there – were being difficult about the parking situation.

The managing agent appointed solicitors to put pressure on our neighbour and the landlord.

We made it clear to the managing agent that we wanted them to try and recover all of the solicitors’ legal fees from the landlord, and not have to pay the fees ourselves or add the fees to the communal budget.

At the end of December 2022, our neighbour finally stopped parking his last remaining truck on the development. And the solicitors issued their invoice for £1,779.60.

It was agreed that the landlord would be held responsible for the bill. But we recently contacted the managing agent who won’t tell us if the legal bill has been paid. Will we be held liable for the costs at any point in the future? LT

Instructing a solicitor has stopped the neighbour from parking their truck in the residential development (stock image)

MailOnline Property Expert Myra Butterworth replies: It is good to hear that the eyesore has been addressed, and that the issue was resolved without court proceedings having to begin.

We speak to a legal expert about whether you are legally liable for any part of the lawyers’ £1,779.60 bill.

Stephen Gold, ex-judge and author, explains: The parking which infuriated our questioners was in breach of the promises made by the owner of the neighbouring property in the purchase deed when they bought it. 

Stephen Gold is a retired judge and author

There is a slight complication in that it was not the actual owner who was causing the trouble but their tenant. 

The conduct complained of stopped without court proceedings having to be started. 

However, had a court case been brought for an injunction against the neighbouring owner or their tenant – or both – then, on the basis of what our questioners tell us, I am confident that it would have been successful. 

An injunction is likely to have forbidden any repeats of the breaches and, in all probability, whoever was sued would have been ordered to pick up the legal costs of the management company.

If our questioners and other owners on the development affected by the breaches agreed with the managing agents to foot the lawyers’ bill for taking on the case, then they would be stuck with that agreement and would have to pay up. 

It is not uncommon for developers, management companies or managing agents to extract an agreement of this kind before launching into litigation for the benefit of property owners in a development. I understand there was no such agreement by our questioners.

It appears that the breaches ceased after correspondence from the lawyers. It is unknown whether the lawyers extracted a commitment from the neighbouring owner or their tenant to be responsible for the lawyers’ bill or part of it. 

My guess is that there was no such commitment with legal responsibility being denied at the same time as an undertaking being given that there would be future good behaviour. 

That is how it often goes in these situations. In the unlikely event that there was a commitment, the management agents would have to deduct what is recovered from any of the lawyers’ fees sought from others on the development.

Our questioners believe that the lawyers may be relying on a section in the neighbouring owner’s purchase deed to get them to pay up. 

This states that each owner is to indemnify the developers ‘against all damages costs and other liabilities resulting from any non-observance or non-performance by the transferee (the next-door owner) of any covenants relating to the property’. 

This section may not catch the lawyers’ bill. It is in favour of the developer rather than the management company which I understand instructed the lawyers through the managing agents.

Our questioners and their neighbours own their freeholds. That being so they do not have the same ability as a leaseholder to refer a dispute such as this to a tribunal.

That is the law as it currently stands. Whether the lawyers’ bill, with or without a deduction, can be lawfully added to the maintenance charge – including the maintenance charge of the owner next door – depends entirely on the wording of the deed which applies to our questioners and all their neighbours.

Let’s take a look at that deed again. The only relevant section that could have clobbered our questioners states that the maintenance charge can include ‘the costs incurred by the management company in bringing or defending any actions or other proceedings against or by any person whatsoever.’ 

But no court case was started. I do not consider that the steps taken by the lawyers amounted to ‘actions or other proceedings’ even if they included a threat to bring proceedings which triggered the climb down.

Our questioners are not legally liable for any part of the lawyers’ £1,779.60 bill.

Stephen Gold is an ex-judge and author of ‘The Return of Breaking Law’ published by Bath Publishing. For more on service charges, go to 

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