Disputes over where boundaries lie can cause unpleasantness animosity between neighbours as well as being expensive if a disagreement escalates. By knowing your legal rights, you have a better chance of avoiding a lengthy and unpleasant dispute.
Knowing where your boundaries are
It is not always clear where property boundaries are, but the first place to check is your title deeds. Land Registry plans show only general boundaries and are in any case not on a large enough scale to precisely define where the line falls.
There may be older transfer documents which contain more accurate drawings or refer specifically to the boundary location.
There is also a possibility that a property boundary might have moved over time. If a boundary has been accepted by both parties for 10 years or more, then a court may decide that this is now the legal boundary. To find out whether a claim on this basis has a chance of success, you should take legal advice from an expert in property disputes.
At Lincoln & Rowe we are experienced in conducting cases involving boundary demarcation and in making successful applications to the Adjudicator to the Land Registry. If you are experiencing any issues in respect of your boundaries, we would be happy to discuss this with you and help you decide how best to proceed.
We can also advise in respect of claims involving unregistered or abandoned land.
Avoiding a boundary dispute
Before carrying out any work along a boundary, such as replacing a hedge or fence, speak to your neighbour. If they are presented with a surprise boundary change, they are more likely to object than if you had a conversation ahead of works being carried out.
If they are not in agreement with you, suggest that you both look at your title deeds to see if a resolution can be found. If you are still unable to reach an agreement, then consider asking a solicitor or surveyor for their opinion.
Once you have agreed on the position of the boundary, you should can ask your solicitor to apply to the Land Registry to record the exact boundary against the title to both your property and that of your neighbour to prevent any future confusion or disagreement.
When boundaries are disputed
A boundary dispute can arise from what may initially be a relatively minor niggle, such as a hedge growing onto a neighbouring property or a fence which is deemed to be on someone else’s land. There may also be disagreement over who is responsible for repairs to walls or fences.
A boundary dispute is best avoided if at all possible. Not only could it be a long-lasting problem, involving legal action, but your relationship with the person who lives next to you will is likely to break down causing lasting unpleasantness. If you are able to reach a compromise solution, you are far more likely to be able to repair your relationship in time.
Lincoln & Rowe frequently help clients find amicable solutions to boundary disagreements by way of alternative dispute resolution, including mediation and negotiation. Even long-running and bitter disputes can often be solved in this way, avoiding a protracted and expensive court case.
What to do if your neighbour is not observing your boundary
If you have been unable to solve matters amicably and you wish to take action against a neighbour who is encroaching over your boundary or trespassing on your property, you can take legal action to stop them.
You can seek an injunction to prevent further encroachment or trespass, or have anything that has been built over your land removed. The court may also make a declaratory judgment, stating to whom the boundary belongs and any rights or responsibilities that are included.
At Lincoln & Rowe we have extensive experience in property disputes. Partner James Beat has been specialising in resolving complex property cases for over 15 years. We also regularly advise clients before the commencement of major construction projects where boundary ownership may be an issue.
Who we can help
Our property litigation solicitors at Lincoln & Rowe have two decades of experience advising on high-value and complex property litigation. We advise on a wide range of commercial and residential property litigation matters and contentious property issues, including trust and probate disputes where property is involved.
Where can you find us?
Lincoln & Rowe Solicitors are based in the heart of London and just a few minutes’ walk from the Royal Courts of Justice. Our full address is 81 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1DD.
Make an online enquiry, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +44 (0)20 3968 6030.