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

  30 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.

  15. Eileen Turner
    May 6, 2018 at 7:36 am

    My neighbour is having a extention built on to the rear of his house its a large extension we had no problem with it, but the builders haven’t very good regarding the finished look of the wall it look a right mess the mortar that is and it’s breeze blocks not brick and now the neighbour has told us it’s not going to be rendered. Does this contravene planning permission ? And the drainage from the roof has been put on the boundary wall !! its looks they also need to put scaffolding on my land to access to build the pitch roof but I don’t feel I want to be helpful with this now seeing the mess that the wall has been left in and right outside my kitchen window to the left. It’s will be also inconvenient to us regarding my dog being let out and ourselves enjoying our garden. Any advice

  16. c nuttalll
    August 24, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    my neighbour has received planning for a two storey extension (much to my annoyance) which goes right up to the boundary line between our houses. they wont tell me when they propose to start but my main concern is access to my land for the scaffolding. do I have to let them have access or can refuse?

  17. John
    September 3, 2018 at 2:36 am

    Same problem neibour dorma being built scaffolding on my wall and roof not signed anything

  18. Leighann lodge
    September 12, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Next doors having a extensions built whom can i just say i get along with but they are not there they are away on holiday they are also my landlords sister. Iv come home from work today and they have put scaffolding up in my back garden ( which is 5 boards wide) which is on the same level and right upto my kitchen window and little boys bedroom. So when they are stood on the scaffolding they can see straight into my house. I have kicked up a fuss with the contractor today and told them they better get it moved as i dont appreciate them been able to see straight into my house expesh my little ones bedroom as this is invading privacy. I have spoken to my landlord who has also spoken to the contracter and the contracter has said he will just put some netting up!! What is the best thing to do? P.s this is not the first time they have annoyed me they left a big hole in my roof uncovered for 2 weeks from where the chimney has been taken down !! Any help would be appriacted

  19. Julie
    December 21, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    My builder is about to go into liquidation. We have scaffolding up – full with tin hat and the scaffolder has knocked on the door to say that he has not been paid and has the right to remove the scaffolding. The roof has not been finished and this would leave us exposed to serious damage and a ruined house if he did that. Can they legally remove scaffolding leaving a house in that condition if they have not been paid?

  20. Jon
    December 21, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    That’s awful Julie. I have no idea where you stand legally. Can you find out who the administrators are and make sure they know that your roof is open etc. Did the builder have an insurance policy? Might be worth speaking to your home insurance provider and finding out, maybe you are covered through their insurance? I would guess that the scaffolder can remove it – it belongs to them and they have not been paid.

    This page has some info:

    What have you paid so far – have you paid anything up front, or are you up to date with payments? If upto date, maybe seek a roofer to finish, or at least make water tight, while you look for a new builder.

  21. Lee buckley
    March 11, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Help! We allowed our neighbours to erect scaffolding on our drive for an extension, they said it would be there for 10 weeks and we agreed. Our house was up for sale at that time but with no firm offer yet we figured 10 weeks would work should we move (approx 10 wks needed to move). We received a firm offer 3 weeks after they started. It’s now been 13 weeks and there’s still no sign of them completing. No work has been done for the last month, the final deadline they confirmed to us for the removal of the scaffold is in 2 days. It’s definitely not happening in 2 days.
    We move in 2 weeks, but the scaffold is blocking our garage, (full of items needed to be moved), as well as having caused some damage to our driveway. They’ve started to avoid talking to us. We are the middle house in a 5 house moving chain. We are very scared here. The neighbour is the builder and he just seems to have downed tools. We would never have agreed to the scaffold had we known it would still be there in March. Where do we stand legally here?

  22. anne rusk
    May 24, 2019 at 6:05 am

    our neigbours got the scaffolders to put there poles in to our house wall they never even asked permission, they have been bulling us for years and my huband is sick, you carnt talk to them, they laught in your face and just carry on, they have also got blanks of wood pushed into are wall, they have been there for 5 years, and have had scaffolding up 4- 5 times to paint and repair the property, and never asked are permission and I am worried its going to damage my property again, just like the last and the time before and the time before that and so on, they have never offered to pay for the damages and my husbands to sick to help.

  23. Joseph Thompson
    August 3, 2019 at 1:39 pm

    Hi, we have scaffolding over our garden as next door is building on the loft. We have Brick, nails and other debris falling into our garden. Recently a 2×0.5m piece of cladding fell into our garden. What can we do about this??

  24. Jennifer
    August 10, 2019 at 9:43 am

    Can my neighbour place scaffolding directly on my roof

  25. Wendy Hammond
    November 19, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    My neighbour scaffolders have erected supporting struts onto my extension house wall to stabilise their scaffolding. I think this is unreasonable as they didn’t ask us first and could damage my house wall and may breach my building insurance, do you agree?

  26. Jon
    November 20, 2019 at 10:01 am

    It is certainly polite to ask permission first. No idea about building insurance – they should be insured so If there is damage you might be able to make a claim.

  27. Scott Davies
    July 14, 2020 at 9:39 am

    The building next door has had scaffolding put up I had no idea it was happening it looks directly into my living room forcing me to keep my curtains closed is this right and what can I have done About it

  28. Jon
    July 14, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    If is isn’t on your land and is temporary for building works, repairs, there is nothing you can do. If they are extending or renovating and putting a side window in on the first floor, that window must be non-opening and frosted below 170cm (I think, if I remember right)

  29. Sylvia
    November 17, 2020 at 9:09 am

    We have a leak in our roof which is going into our child’s bedroom. Our neighbours have said they won’t allow scaffolding because they don’t want their decking to be damaged, meaning we can’t actually repair the leak.

    I’d have said this sounds like an essential repair and, going by this article, it seems like we’d be have a good chance of getting a court order should they continue to refuse access. Is this right?

  30. Jon
    November 17, 2020 at 12:05 pm

    This certainly sounds like it should be considered an essential repair and allowed under the Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992. How you actually enforce this though, we do not know.
    This might be a good starting point:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *