You may have never considered where the boundary line lies in your property, there is often no reason to. The fence and Party Wall, when laid correctly, will often lie right on top of the Boundary and thus it doesn’t bare much thought.
However, say your neighbour has recently conducted a rear extension. You look at your property after the fact and to you, it appears that the new construction encroaches upon your land by a cm or two.
What can you do?
You will find that the science behind determining a Boundary Line is far more complex than just comparing it to the pre-existing fence.
Due to the nature of such neighbourly matters, Boundary Dispute cases such as these can often become a case of one person’s word against another. Because of this, it can be helpful to get a professional opinion on the matter.
This is where Boundary Determination Reports come in.
A Boundary Determination Report is a document written by a Boundary Surveyor which expresses the Surveyor’s professional opinion on where the Boundary Line lies and details how the Surveyor came to that opinion.
To assure that the Report written up is as accurate as possible, the Boundary Surveyor will often visit the property and conduct a variety of different tests to write up an adequate report and come to their decision.
The Surveyor will then usually take a series of measurements and photographs to garner an accurate assessment of what the current projection of the Boundary line is.
Once this inspection is complete the Boundary Surveyor will undertake desktop research, which includes looking at the Land Registry Details, the Land Registry Map Search, previous Planning Applications, Historical and Present Maps and even Google Earth and Street View to gain evidence to where the Boundary Line may lie.
Once there an accurate assessment of where the Boundary Line is supposed to lie, it can be compared against the current state of the property to determine whether the current or proposed construction trespasses any land. \
This is the basic contents of a report, but that begs the question:
What are some of the reasons for getting a Boundary Determination Report?
In some cases, a neighbour may request one before the construction has even taken place as a precaution to ensure that the building works adhere to the existing Boundary Line.
However, in my experience, most Boundary Determination Reports are requested post-construction when a neighbour believes that the building works encroach upon their land.
So, what steps need to be taken after receiving the Boundary Determination Report?
If the report is conducted before any construction takes place it can then be used to ensure that the Boundary Line has adhered too.
However, if the report is written up before the works taking place the issue would not yet be resolved.
Although a lot of research goes into a report, it is not legally binding on its own and only serves as a professional opinion on the matter. In these cases, there are several routes a homeowner could go down to resolve the Boundary Dispute.
Initially, we would always recommend having a clear and frank conversation with the other party. If the report states that your neighbour has indeed trespassed upon your land, the neighbour may be willing to conduct a reconstruction or provide compensation to avoid legal fees.
However, in situations when the relationship between neighbours is tense or a solution can simple not be agreed upon the case may need to be court. The judge will take the Boundary Determination Report into consideration amongst other evidence to decide whether a trespass has taken place.
If the construction does encroach upon the neighbour’s property a reconstruction or compensation can be enforced by the courts.
Though we would of course always recommend these matters are settled as civilly as possible, in some cases going to court is the only sensible option.
If you find yourself considering taking a Boundary Matter to court, getting a Surveyors opinion in the form of a Boundary Determination Report would be of a lot of use to you.
Although it is ostensibly just an opinion, it can go a long way in a courtroom to help the judge make their decision.
If you have any more questions regarding Party Wall Disputes or Boundary Disputes or wish to appoint us as your Boundary Surveyors, please give us a call for 30 minutes free consultation on our office number 020 7935 2502.