Planning House Repairs or an Extension? Know Your Scaffolding Rights


When You Can and Cannot Erect Scaffolding on Other People’s Land

Know your obligations and rights when looking to erect scaffolding on a neighbour’s land and understand the differences between scaffolding for repairs and home improvements.

There are any number of stories and anecdotes from householders concerning difficulties with uncooperative neighbours. Encroaching on each others’ property boundaries has caused much raised blood pressure over the years, often exacerbated by people not fully understanding the law and regulations.

Scaffolding can cause disputes between neighbours – some builders say that scaffolding always causes problems with loft conversions, even when everybody is operating fully within the law. In order to access the property being worked on, sometimes there’s no other option than to erect some of it on a neighbouring property. In these situations an understanding of regulations depending on the type of work being undertaken is very important.

Renovations, Repairs or Improvements?

The type of work being done largely determines the scaffolding situation regarding a neighbour’s property.

Repairs and renovations – for essential repairs and renovations it’s permissible to erect scaffolding on a neighbour’s land as long as notice is given. These have to be essential repairs.

Extensions or other improvement – for these it is not allowable to erect scaffolding on a neighbour’s land unless they expressly give permission.

Naturally, in both cases most property owners would likely appraise their neighbours of the situation and ask permission. Hopefully cooperation would prevail and permission given – but it would be important to show the neighbours exactly what the proposed work is.

In the case of repairs and renovations, it could well be the case that your neighbours stand to benefit if the next door property is being repaired and would be only too pleased to grant permission.

For extensions, the fact you may have secured planning permission wouldn’t give you the right to erect scaffolding on the neighbour’s property even it was proven as vital to carry out the work successfully. You’ll have to hope the neighbours are agreeable, and may need to have a ‘contingency plan’ if they don’t agree to your original plan. For example, it may be possible for a revised or alternative design to alleviate the need for scaffolding on their property.

Access to Neighbouring Land Act

In the case of repairs and renovations, if your neighbour proves uncooperative you can invoke the Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992. The court would require convincing as to the reasons for accessing a neighbour’s land; the basic requirement is ‘preservation’ of an existing structure as opposed to ‘improvement’ as with a new extension or loft conversion.

If access is granted by the court, then they’ll stipulate exactly what work is being undertaken, when it’s due to start and the completion date. Your neighbour would be entitled to request alternative timescales if they wish, and may be entitled to some compensation if you’re likely to cause any disruption or damage to their land or property.

Neighbour Concerns and Disputes

Neighbours often oppose scaffolding, even when it is not directly affecting them. Typical concerns include:

  • Scaffolding will block my access
  • Scaffolding will look unsightly
  • Scaffolding may be dangerous and fall on my car
  • Building debris or tools could fall from the scaffolding on to my property

In my case, a neighbour complained several times, with concerns that the scaffolding would block their property and damage their cars, even though the scaffold poles were wholly on my land – they even moved their cars to my border so that the wing mirrors overhand the edge of their driveway, in an attempt to stop the scaffold going up. So, sometimes neighbours complain for no real reason – they just don’t want to see it there!

Reputable Scaffolders

Ensure you or your builders engage a reputable scaffolder. They’ll be familiar with scaffolding regulations, but you’re obliged to ensure they’re adhered to. They should also have a scoffolder’s insurance policy that provides public liability insurance as well as insurance against damage to your property and neighbouring properties. A scaffolder also needs to hold the necessary licence to erect the scaffolding, and insurance must be in place to get it – Essex County Council says that you need to have £10 million public liability insurance to apply for a licence.

An experienced scaffolder will know how to erect scaffolding that causes as little intrusion and disruption as possible. If your neighbours realise you’re using true professionals they’re more likely to cooperate with you. However, even if you do use a good scaffolding firm, sometimes neighbours will still complain, raise concerns about the risk of damage to their property, and even tell you that your scaffolding spoils their view! My builder says that scaffolding is the biggest headache in any job, and once it is sorted, the rest of the job is usually plain sailing!

More like this in the Planning and Design section

  14 comments for “Planning House Repairs or an Extension? Know Your Scaffolding Rights

  1. Beris Burnett
    September 11, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Scaffolders entered my property to erect scaffolding without my permission, they also stood on my garage roof. When they come to dismantle the scaffolding can I forbid them coming onto my land/ garage roof. This isn’t a maintenance job but a major redevelopment

  2. Jon
    September 11, 2017 at 7:46 am

    Out of order, even if maintenance landowners should be asked and give permission. What happened when you forbade them, did they manage to take it down from the neighbour’s land?

  3. Erika
    September 17, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    My neighbour has had scaffolding up for years, is there a time limit on how long it can be left up, it’s unsightly and very rarely used.

  4. Mike G
    November 27, 2017 at 11:20 am

    Hi, I live in a block of flats and have had scaffolding erected at the back and front of my building directly over my living room and bedroom windows as renovation work is carried out on the flat above. No permission was requested, is this legal?

  5. Jon
    November 27, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Probably – check with the landlord or property management company – I think that they will be the ones who need to give permission, not leaseholders. However, it would have been nice if somebody had notified you in advance – there are obvious privacy issues, so take it up with the landlord.

  6. Alex Beckwith
    January 30, 2018 at 10:07 am

    Hi we have scaffolding up for a loft conversion, there is an overhang into the neighbours airspace, it is not touching her property (her house is detached from ours) but the top layer of the scaffolding overhangs between our property and hers. she has instructed a solicitor who says we need a license, is this accurate? They are quoting £1000.

  7. Steffan
    February 16, 2018 at 10:20 am

    One of my neighbours has roofers in and they’ve erected scaffolding around the rear and side of their property. The scaffolding on the side, and their ladder to access it, are on a shared access which is my only means of access and egress to and from my property (unless I walk through their neighbours house or jump a 7′ wall! The access tapers, narrowing at the point they’ve placed the ladder but if they’d extended the scaffold further toward the road I would have retained easy access (albeit walking under the scaffold), or they could have extended the scaffold further into their garden to allow themselves access underneath it until past the property end and placed the ladder there. They never notified me and may not have realised this was my only access but they learned three days ago and don’t seem to care that I am almost a prisoner in my own home. Those of us who don’t appreciate specific scaffolding aren’t all being unreasonable!

  8. Jon
    February 16, 2018 at 11:36 am

    That is obviously unacceptable.

  9. Mikc
    March 1, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    We don’t need scaffolding, we need access to erect a temporary free-standing platform for 1-2 to render a building wall – the building is an extension put up about 4 months ago. The wall is made of porous concrete blocks – rendering is required to protect from water and is per the terms of the planning application.

    Does that class as maintenance and therefore we have right of access, or as our neighbour’s saying, it is completing a build and therefore we have no right?

  10. Jon
    March 20, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    TBH, I cannot say. I think, it sounds like permission needs to be granted.

  11. Adrian Rowe
    March 29, 2018 at 6:11 pm

    Hello , my neighbours have erected scaffolding which finishes level with my property line – no issues with them carrying out work although they will not say what for , however it has blocked my sky signal – I have spoken to them they say it may there 1 day 2 days a week maybe 2 or 3 weeks and are not prepared to do anything about it. The scaffolding blocks the pavement and also he has secured a ladder into the middle of the road to the scaffolding with a blue rope which also blocks half the road and if you try and walk past in darker conditions you could be in for a nasty injury – they have also put a ladder tied onto the scaffolding which means the workman has to go onto my property and up and down right in front of and covering my front door.
    The neighbours will not confirm if they have the correct paperwork to cut off access to the pavement or the road. He also throws stuff including a saw from the roof on to the pavement . He has no top rails to stop himself falling off and doesn’t wear any safety equipment like a harness. Our telephone line was in the way of the top of the scaffolding so the workman proceeded to push the line out with his boots unit it stretched and the scaffolding and is now as tight as a guitar string. Does this seem acceptable ? Any advice on who to complain to , I have just contacted local highways and local H&S executive.

  12. Rob
    April 16, 2018 at 9:34 pm

    My neighbour scaffolders have erected three supporting struts onto my house wall to stabilise their scaffolding. I think this is unreasonable and could damage my house wall and may breach my building insurance, do you agree?

  13. Jon
    April 16, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    That doesn’t sound right. I’d speak to your neighbour, if that’s an option.

  14. Jon
    April 16, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    Adrian, that all sounds wrong. Speak to Council.

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