Most of us remember the utter joy we felt when we’d finally saved the money we needed to buy our own home. Home is where the heart is, isn’t that what they say? It’s where we go to rest and to spend time with those we love. It’s where we do our thinking, planning and pondering. Home is a wonderful place to be.
When property boundary disputes arise, it can feel as though somebody is trying to take a little bit of what’s ours. Not only does it make us feel territorial to an extent most of us have never felt before, but it can upset our relationship with our neighbours; something that can severely impact how comfortable we feel at home.
It is really important that boundary disputes are dealt with property because they can escalate and become expensive and nasty. If you have big plans for your property, or if you know that your neighbour does and you are not wholly comfortable with it, it’s a good idea to clue yourself up on the best way to deal with a boundary dispute.
Here are our top tips.
Avoid it happening in the first place
If you’re planning on replacing a bush with a fence or vice versa, it’s a good idea to speak to your neighbour about your plans before you do anything. Sudden actions are the most common cause of boundary disputes.
You might be perfectly capable of proving that the bush you ripped up without consulting your neighbour did belong to you, but if they’re angry about it and they take you to court, the experience will be costly and create tension between you. Communication is key.
Unless your land is significantly expensive, the costs to resolve a boundary dispute can very quickly spiral to outweigh what your land is worth, so it is a good idea to come to a peaceful resolution and compromise as quickly as you can.
How do I find out where my house boundaries are?
It’s really important that you know where your land ends and your neighbours begins. You can use the government website to search for property information from HM Land Registry. This will give you a good idea of what land you actually own.
If you need to prove your property ownership in court, this website will not be enough. Instead, you’ll need an official copy of the land register.
How do I resolve a boundary dispute?
If it’s too late for compromise and you’re already involved in a boundary dispute, you’ll need to seek advice from a chartered land surveyor, or a chartered surveyor who specialises in boundary disputes.
Boundaries are not always clear, even on legal documents. Your hired professional will try to prove that the disputed land belongs to you by checking the official property deeds and consulting official land registry records.
It’s frustrating, but these issues can be subjective. You might find a professional who agrees that a piece of land is yours, whilst your neighbour could find another who believes it’s theirs.
Search for a legal professional with a proven track record for solving boundary disputes and pitch them your problem. They’ll tell you whether it is likely that you will win should you choose to take your neighbour to court.
How do I solve a dispute on an invisible boundary?
If you share a party wall with your neighbour, you must obtain the agreement of the person you share the wall with before you carry out any work. This includes side walls of semi-detached or terraced houses, as well as garden walls that extend across both sides of a boundary.
You cannot do any of the following work without obtaining the permission of your neighbour:
- Knock down and rebuild the wall
- Cut into the wall
- Increase the height
- Strengthen the wall
- Strengthen the foundation of the wall
- Place a damp proof layer within the wall
- Cut a flashing into a building adjoining the wall.
If your neighbour refuses to give you permission to complete these works you must obtain a formal award to complete them under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 from a Party Wall Surveyor.
Don’t worry, adding shelves and hanging pictures are usually not affected by the Party Wall Act. The rules are in place to stop you from damaging the structural integrity of a wall you share responsibility for, not to stop you from re-plastering or putting up wallpaper.
Where do I go for advice?
Boundary disputes can be complicated, and we know that. If you really don’t know where to start, we recommend that you speak to a professional, no matter what stage of your dispute you’re at.
You can contact JMR Solicitors using our contact us page. To read reviews about our services, visit our reviews page.