Boundary Disputes Can Lead to Neighbourhood Strife
- AuthorJonathan Flynn
Social distancing has become part of our life now, but distance between neighbours has always been a potential flashpoint, when it comes to boundary disputes.
If you think your neighbour has overstepped their boundary, or is encroaching on your territory, you should seek legal advice from a specialist property disputes Solicitor.
In reality, many homeowners don’t actually know where the boundary lines sit. When residential property is registered with the Land Registry, a title plan is created, outlining the general boundaries of the property. But, to see the exact position of the boundary line you need to consult the deeds of each property. If there is no documentation to prove the history of your boundary lines, the two neighbours should decide between them on the exact positioning and create a legal document to record this. If the two cannot agree on this, a boundary dispute Solicitor can help to settle it.
If The Court gets involved, it will determine the historic boundary line when the land was first divided. The Court will often be guided by the boundary features, such as a wall, hedge or fence which divided the land at the time of the earliest conveyance. But, bear in mind that the wall or fence you are used to doesn’t necessarily follow your legal boundary. We also see a lot of neighbours disagreeing about who is responsible for maintaining a boundary feature.
Adverse possession, or squatting, is also a common problem. Often, boundaries have been altered over the years by squatting, since it infringes upon the boundary line for surrounding properties.
For registered land, the Land Registration Act 2002 permits adverse possession of land if a neighbour can show they have been in possession of adjoining land for at least ten years and that they ‘reasonably believed’ they owned the land over that time. Clearly, it is important for landowners to pre-empt squatting, and a legal expert can help with this, or guide you through resolving this issue if it has already happened.
The good news is that The Property Boundaries (Resolution of Disputes) Bill is designed to create a quicker, cheaper way of resolving boundary disputes. It made law the Bill will allow a surveyor to determine the position of a boundary before the issue gets to Court. So, many such disputes should be solved at an earlier stage – hopefully allowing for more peaceful neighbourly relationships.