Party Wall Disputes with neighbours are common. Whilst we would all like to live harmoniously, occasionally scenarios will crop up that lead to disagreements.
One of the more common disagreements between neighbours is a boundary dispute, according to research making up 10% of all neighbourly disagreements.
Boundary Disputes between neighbours are a perennial problem. They cause a great deal of hostility and tension and disputes can arise in relation to the tiniest patch of land imaginable (one bitter row involved 4cm of land and the Scotland Yard!). Common sense and logic get thrown out of the window, and the knives come out, figuratively at least!
A minor disagreement can quickly become a full-scale dispute involving solicitors’ letters and threats of a court action. Ultimately, the cost of protecting your right to land in court could be exorbitant so it pays to think hard before rushing into legal action.
A recently reported court case left neighbours with a £120,000 legal bill after the matter was resolved. Warring neighbours can lose their home if they lose in court, and even when you win the legal costs can be enormous.
It is also worth bearing in mind that most people won’t buy a house once a boundary dispute has started, you may end up stuck with your neighbour for a very long time!
Boundary disputes occur for many reasons. Most commonly a neighbour may object to another’s plan to construct an outbuilding in a particular area, or extend their property.
There may be a disagreement over the erection of a structure such as a wall or a fence, and one may feel an overgrown hedge is encroaching onto their property. This is particularly common where a hedge is replaced with a fence.
Always remember that a hedge is a general boundary and the only way to decide where a replacement fence should be positioned is by agreement between the adjoining owners.
The key to resolving a dispute quickly and positively is to seek expert advice from a Party Wall Surveyor specialising in boundary disputes as soon as possible.
Here at Berry Lodge, we would recommend a Boundary Determination Report from our Boundary Dispute team.
We will seek to locate historic title deeds for the property, which may contain detailed plans and measurements. The existence of physical features, such as original fences can be used as evidence to identify the boundary.
If the parties can reach an agreement on the location of boundaries without going to Court, then a “Boundary Agreement” can be drawn up and signed by the parties. This agreement can then be registered against the respective legal titles on the Land Registry.
It is clear that boundary disputes remain a complex issue, and that the law as it stands can create uncertainty encouraging costly dispute between adjoining owners. Given the implications of a long drawn out legal battle, the best approach will be to gain early professional advice to determine the issues at hand potentially thousands and a lot of time.
If you would like more advice about Party Wall Disputes or are potentially facing one, we would be happy to assist, feel free to give our team of surveyors a call on 020 7935 2502.