Solicitors for Boundary Disputes
Boundary disputes are a common cause for disputes between neighbours. It’s easy to see why: after all, property is one of the most expensive and important purchases we can make in life, so it’s expected for emotions to run high. What’s more, many of us are not aware of the general boundaries of our property, making it easy for disputes of this nature to occur.
If you believe your neighbour has overstepped their boundary or has begun expanding into your territory, your first step should be to seek legal advice from a specialist property disputes solicitor.
Where is my boundary line?
Between your property and your neighbour’s property is a boundary line. This line determines where your land ends and where your neighbour’s land begins.
When residential property is registered with the Land Registry, a title plan is created. A title plan is a drawing which sets out the general boundaries of the property. However, it’s crucial to note that a title plan only shows the general position rather than the exact boundary line. While this document may help, it could be subject to distortions and should not be used specifically to determine your boundary lines. To determine the correct positioning of the boundary line, reference should be made to the deeds for each property.
If there is no documentation to prove the history of your boundary lines, the decision will fall to you and your neighbour to determine the correct positioning of the boundary. Ultimately, both parties can come together to decide on the exact line that separates their property, creating a legal document to record this. However, if you cannot reach an agreement regarding where the boundary line should be, our dedicated boundary dispute solicitors will be at hand to help you promptly resolve the issue.
- Sarah Davies
- Director & Head of Property Litigation
- Benjamin Davies
- Associate Solicitor - Property Litigation
- Jonathan Flynn
- Associate Solicitor - Property Litigation
- Anne-Marie Morgan
- Legal Secretary - Property Litigation
The Courts Approach
The court’s task in determining the position of a boundary is to determine the historic boundary line when the land was first divided i.e. at the date of the earliest conveyance. The court will take account of various principles with the ultimate goal of determining what a reasonable person, standing in the position of those party to the original conveyance, would have understood the position to be. With this in mind, courts will often use the boundary features of the land at the time of the earliest conveyance which split the land to determine the position of the boundary.
What is a boundary feature?
A boundary feature is something that separates your neighbour’s property from your own. This generally tends to be a wall, a hedge or a fence, but it is important to bear in mind that it doesn’t necessarily represent your legal boundary. As a result, boundary features are often prevalent in property disputes and the cause for ongoing tension between neighbours.
Often, title deeds contain a covenant, which define who is responsible for the maintenance of a boundary feature. If the ownership of the boundary feature is not clear, disagreements such as these can escalate easily. At JCP, our boundary dispute solicitors have vast experience helping property owners to settle issues regarding their boundary features, often helping both parties to reach an agreement on the ownership of the feature.
When seeking to establish the correct boundary line, it is important that landowners consider whether the boundaries have been altered over the years by adverse possession.
For unregistered land, if a “squatter” has been in exclusive possession of their neighbours land for 12 years they can claim adverse possession, thereby impacting the boundary line for the 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’ that they owned the land over that time. The Court of Appeal decisions of Zarb v Parry  and IAM Group Plc v Chowdrey  make clear that the mere fact that a neighbour has challenged the position of a boundary will not itself render a squatter’s belief in their ownership of the land unreasonable.
Determining the position with regard to possible claims for adverse possession is crucial to resolving (and indeed preventing) boundary disputes. At JCP, our solicitors are well experienced in dealing with applications for adverse possession and can provide you with clear guidance from the outset as to the likelihood of any such claim being established.
The Property Boundaries (Resolution of Disputes) Bill was re-introduced on 15 January 2020 and is intended to create a quicker and more cost-effective alternative for the resolution of boundary disputes. The Bill provides for the introduction of a mandatory expert determination of a boundary by a surveyor before court proceedings can be commenced. This may prove fundamental to the speedy resolution of boundary disputes in the future.
How can JCP’s boundary dispute solicitors help me?
We know how stressful and time-consuming it can be to be at war with your neighbour, and the last thing you want is for the dispute to drag out. That’s why our boundary dispute solicitors will always go above and beyond for you, not only assisting to resolve your conflict but also taking steps to minimise the risk of future disputes arising.
With experience in preparing applications to rectify title deeds and also defending such applications, our solicitors can assist in resolving boundary disputes. Whether you need advice and assistance in creating a boundary agreement or if you would like to claim a disputed boundary determined which can involve a claim for damages due to trespass you can rely on our solicitors to achieve an outcome that protects your property.
Speak to our boundary disputes solicitors in South Wales
To speak to our expert boundary disputes solicitors in South Wales, please contact your local JCP Solicitors office:
To ask a quick question or arrange a call back, use our simple contact form to make an enquiry.