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Boundary disputes have been present for as long as there have been boundary lines and as such there are a number of tried and tested methods to resolve the dispute.
The first point to remember is that this isn’t an uncommon position, nor an untested position to be in.
What is a Boundary Dispute?
Boundary Dispute issues may take place when two different parties, usually property owners, disagree the location, width, ownership or maintenance liabilities of the boundary line.
Boundaries are generally set by determining features such as a fence, wall, hedge, driveway, tree, post or even a stone marker.
Over the years of the property owners and various occupants, the boundaries can often be moved, diverted, adjusted and even overgrown.
While the legal boundary line will always be indicated on the Land Registry Title Plan, often these will be to a very high scale, usually 1 to 1,250.
In practice, this means that when a Surveyor attempts to determine the boundary line using Land Registry Title Plan scale, there can be as much as a one-meter wide uncertainty as to where the true boundary line lies.
What Can I do if I find myself in a Boundary Dispute?
Here at Berry Lodge Surveyors, we would first recommend approaching the counterpart to the boundary dispute directly. At this stage, it is important to gain a clear understanding of their position on the location, maintenance or position of the boundary.
Once the basis of the boundary dispute has been established you can then proceed to have the boundary issues resolved.
How do we help in the Boundary Dispute issues?
Our aim is to ensure that the Boundary Dispute is resolved in the most time and cost-effective way possible, while also taking into account the future neighbourly relationship between the parties.
Our experienced and qualified Surveyors will undertake a site inspection, undertake extensive research and provide you with a thorough report which sets out our view on the boundary dispute. This report can be prepared on behalf of one of the parties, or behalf of both parties to the boundary dispute.
Within our reports, we always set out our findings clearly and concisely and ensure that the outcome is fully explained.
If the parties are in agreement with the report’s findings we will then prepare a Boundary Agreement which will be signed by both respective parties to the dispute.
Once signed this Boundary Agreement is then provided to the Land Registry along with a sensibly scaled drawing which will determine the exact position of the boundary line and the maintenance liabilities. Once the Land Registry has the information to hand, the legal change to the registers will take place and we will provide you with updated copies of the property deeds to keep on file.
We understand that a neighbourly disagreement can quickly become both an emotional, time and cost-intensive dispute.
We therefore always ensure that we do the very best we can to ensure that our clients reach an agreed outcome in the best possible manner.
Here at Berry Lodge, while we are Chartered Surveyors by trade, we are also RICS Accredited Mediators and members of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. This professional background and experience have proved to be invaluable on countless occasions and have successfully contributed to a number of resolved boundary disputes over the years.
Our Boundary Dispute Process:
Pre Inspection Investigation
Before visiting site our Surveying team will have undertaken extensive research to ensure that when we undertake our inspection we are fully informed on anything pertinent to the dispute. Whether this is historic planning records, land registry documentation or ordnance survey maps, we will have the facts to hand.
Surveyor Site Inspection
During the inspection, our Surveyor will fully inspect the site and will be able to establish the existence of fences, walls, hedges, trees, posts or even stone markers. We will also undertake comprehensive measurements and a photographic record to ensure we are fully informed on the lay of the land.
Surveyor's Report & Determination
Having now had the opportunity to undertake both pre-site investigation and thorough site inspection, the Surveyor will compile a comprehensive report that will give a clear and impartial view on his or her opinion of the location of the boundary line.
How our Surveyors Determine the Boundary:
Ordnance Survey Maps
We look at a range of Ordnance Survey Maps (OS Maps) to assist in determining the location of the boundary line to the property. While the scale of the map can often be too large to translate to site measurements, the maps are a great indicator of the position of the boundary.
We look at a wide range of historic maps going as far back as we need to establish the historic position of the boundary lines. Historic Maps are an excellent insight into the changes that may have taken place since the boundaries were recorded and set.
We take a look at both current and historic planning records for the subject property and also all of the surrounding properties in the immediate vicinity. This is an excellent insight into any changes that may have affected the boundary lines over the years.
We take a look at aerial photographs covering the subject property. While the scale can often be too small to enable accurate boundary determination, the photographs are none the less an excellent indicator and insight into the historic position of the boundary.
We will request historic photographs from the client which can often capture the boundary line and position in the background of the photographs. Surprisingly these photographs can often provide valuable insight into the boundary line that maps may miss.
We use laser measures to accurately measure the boundary lines to within 1.5mm. This ensures that we are accurately able to relay our findings onto our clients to ensure they have the best possible understanding of our opinion on the location of the boundary line.
We use a 5m, a 30m and a 60m tape measure which enables us to fully measure the site and enables us to collect measurements, even in those hard to reach locations such as behind trees or through bushes. As standard, we provide our clients with a tape measure with all of our reports.
A plumb line is an accurate measure when determining if a boundary line is straight. While we don't use this on every job generally being reserved for terraced or semi-detached properties, it is still an excellent tool to have in the kit when required.
We use a string level to accurately and clearly map the boundary line during the Surveyor's site inspection. In using this tool, the Surveyor is able to clearly understand where the boundary line is, allowing him to take into account any obstacles on-site such as fences, trees or posts.
Pins and Tack
We use pins, chalk and tack during our site inspection to assist in mapping out the boundary line. There can be cases where the boundary line is in the incorrect position, by using a visual indicator we are able to ensure the client fully understands our Surveyor's findings.
Title Deed Review
We look at the legal Title Deeds in full for both the subject property and the property or properties that it shares a boundary line with. Title Deeds will often include scaled drawings that aren't publicly available that can help determine or locate the boundary line.
Land Registry Review
We look at the Land Registry records to establish if there are any easements or conditions that may effect the position of the boundary line. This can include both the maps and titles that are logged with the Land Registry.
Boundary Dispute Fixed Costs:
Here at Berry Lodge Surveyors, we believe Surveying costs should be transparent, fixed and never include any hidden extras.
All of our Boundary Disputes costs are set at a fixed cost and include the inspection, report, discussion, and recommendations once the report is complete and in the hands of our clients.
Our Boundary Dispute Reports costs start at£900 + VAT.
Typical Boundary Dispute Questions
How long does the Boundary Inspection take?
The duration of the Surveyor’s inspection very much depends on the boundary or boundaries that are being determined and the condition of the boundary.
We would advise budgeting anywhere from 45 minutes to 4 hours at which time the Surveyor undertaking the inspection will be taking a thorough photographic and written record and detailed measurements of the property and boundary recording all of their findings.
What shall I do once I have the Surveyor’s Report?
Once the Surveyor’s report is complete and you have had the chance to digest it, assuming the Surveyor’s opinion is in line with yours and supports your belief on the boundary issue.
We would advise presenting the report to your neighbour and asking them to address the issue of trespass. We would also advise you to give them a set period of time to abate the trespass.
What can I do if my neighbour disagrees with Surveyor’s Report?
If your neighbour disagrees with the Surveyor’s report it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. At that point presumably, they will present their opinion, or their Surveyor’s opinion, at which point they have presented their view on the matter.
At that point, we would advise speaking with your Surveyor to discuss the response and narrow the issues, which will hopefully lead to a simple resolution of the issue.
What happens if I still can’t reach resolution with my neighbour?
If the neighbouring owner still disputes your Surveyor’s findings and report, the only option you will have is to proceed to court and have the boundary line determined.
This will likely require you to present your Surveyor’s report and findings to the courts in an effort to support your case. The courts may also call upon your Surveyor to attend court to inform them of his findings.
The courts will have the right to appoint a court-appointed expert to provide them with a further opinion and ultimately assist them in making a judgement.