The couple have to pay £130,000 after suing the neighbor whose attic extension touches their home

Liz and Adam Peck accused their neighbor Debbie Ranford of “trespassing” by building an attic extension that touched their home in East Dulwich, London, but a judge has refused to order a demolition

Liz and Adam Peck sued their neighbor over their loft conversion
Liz and Adam Peck sued their neighbor over their loft conversion

A millionaire hipster couple have been ordered to pay £130,000 in court costs after suing their neighbor over an attic extension that touched their home.

Liz and Adam Peck tried to force their neighbor Debbie Ranford to tear down their annex by dragging her to court.

They accused her of “trespassing” on their property as she built the loft conversion of her apartment in fashionable East Dulwich, London.

However, Central London County Court refused to order a demolition, instead ordering her to pay her own and nearly all of her neighbor’s legal fees.

The Pecks claimed that Mrs. Ranford built their extension only about an inch from her own attic, and that her builder then joined the two dormer windows by installing “filler” on the Pecks side of the border.

Last month, the Pecks sued their banker neighbor, who had been a family friend, demanding that she be forced to dismantle the attic extension.

Judge Simon Monty QC said the Pecks should not have taken the case to full circuit court and agreed they had attempted to use a “sledgehammer to crack a nut” to resolve the minor border issue.

The dispute concerned these two properties in East Dulwich


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During the trial, the court heard that banker Mrs Ranford built the attic room in her two-storey flat on affluent Bellenden Road, south London, in 2014 after getting the Pecks’ approval.

Ms Ranford, who works in reporting at a city bank, got her neighbors to sign a Party Wall Notice to agree to the work.

But Ms Peck told the court she was horrified to learn that to get a larger attic, Ms Ranford’s builder had built on the boundary line and invaded her property to join the dormer windows.

As evidence, Judge Monty, 49, said the work they agreed to should have stopped just short of the boundary between the two properties.

The Pecks accused Ms Ranford of “trespassing on” their property


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Their own loft conversion was itself less than an inch from the party wall and they understood that Mrs Ranford’s room should be positioned so that a gap was left between the two properties to allow for maintenance.

The first thing Ms Peck learned about it being connected to hers was when a roofer was investigating the cause of a leak and called down that her neighbor had been building on and across the border, she said.

“We were not aware that there had been construction on our property next door,” Ms Peck told the judge.

“You have to stand at the very end of our garden to see that.

Judge Simon Monty QC said the case should not have gone to trial


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“Given the party wall announcement we signed, we had no reason to review the works.”

Her husband Adam Peck added: “It was quite a shock to understand and discover that something very different had been built.”

Representing the couple, attorney Richard Egleton said Ms Ranford chose not to leave a gap between the two extensions because she did not want a smaller loft room.

Rather than leave a gap, the contractor had extended the partition upwards to use as the outside wall of Mrs Ranford’s attic room, with the gap between the two dormer windows on the pecks’ side filled with material to prevent weather damage.

Mrs Ranford (pictured) was allowed to keep her loft conversion


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The solicitor claimed the work resulted in “clear trespassing” and Ms Ranford should be ordered to dismantle the dormer window.

Fighting the case of her neighbors, Ms Ranford claimed the Pecks consented to their construction on the dividing wall separating the two properties and that the work she undertook to connect the rooms was “unavoidable”.

The change to the original scheme, bringing the two dormer windows together, was due to fire codes, and the Pecks approved of that change, she claimed.

None of her actual extensions are on the side of the Pecks’ boundary, with the only material on her property being the “fill material” used to connect and weatherproof the two structures, she said.

In his ruling, Judge Monty accepted that Ms Ranford’s master builder had told Ms Peck he intended to build on the party wall, but that she had not actually consented to it.

However, he said he would not issue an injunction to order Ms Ranford to demolish her attic extension because the resulting trespass was “very minor”, instead awarding the Pecks £200 in damages.

At a hearing yesterday to decide who will pay for the case, Ms Ranford’s lawyer Howard Smith said she was keen to avoid the “huge cost” of a trial and offered her neighbors £13,000 to settle the case sooner, but it was turned down .

At the sentencing point, Judge Monty agreed that the case should have been settled and that Ms Ranford ultimately won because there was never any hope that a judge would order the demolition of a well-constructed extension for minor trespassing.

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