Boundary Disputes

Boundary Disputes

Boundary Disputes

Due to the nature of boundary dispute cases, we rarely offer to represent clients on a no win no fee basis, however we are able to provide a competitive hourly rate and an initial consultation with a member of our team is free of charge.

Below are further details relating to boundary disputes which may also assist with your enquiry.

Resolving boundary disputes

Property rights have taken a torturous route over the past few decades, and though the law now insists on a comprehensive, transparent, standardised, electronic record of ownership, not every owner benefits equally.

Here we are able to provide you with everything that you need to know about boundary disputes. This will help you decide whether or not you have a viable case and if you do we are here to help. Click here to find out more about us.

In this section we will cover:

  1. The basics on boundaries
  2. Disputes that commonly arise
  3. How to establish boundaries
  4. How to resolve boundary disputes

If you are attempting to resolve a boundary dispute, please call us on 0800 014 8727 to discuss your case, or alternatively, fill out the simple form opposite and we will call you back at a time convenient to you. There is no obligation to commit. We understand that these processes can be stressful and daunting, but we are here to make that process easier for you and give you the advice that you need.

The basics on boundaries

Boundaries are created when larger plots of land are hived off into parcels and sold independently. The legal documents created when the smaller parcel of land is first sold, specify the boundaries of that parcel.
The description of the boundaries is split typically into two references within such legal documents. The conveyance often mentions the boundaries, and specifically explains them, and, the accompanying plan often shows the boundaries of the parcel, within the larger plot.

Either of these references, if properly drafted, is enough to lay down clear boundaries. If the description is sufficiently detailed, objective, accurate and complete, it may eliminate a number of potential disputes at the outset. If the plan is prepared by an expert, it may have a similar effect.

Often however, it is found that the original plans were prepared by those without expert knowledge, or that the description of the parcel and its boundaries, in the conveyance, is ambiguous and uncertain.

In such an event, determining the boundaries of your land can often be a matter of reaching an agreement with your neighbours, or continuing the boundaries established before your purchasing the property.

Even though the Land Registry guarantees the title to land, it does not define or determine the boundaries of the land. Boundaries as found on Land Registry plans are indicative. Further, if you want a determination of exact boundaries by the Land Registry, you will need to submit information about these exact boundaries yourself.

If you are involved in a boundary dispute, and the boundaries are not clearly or correctly specified in the original legal documents, your best bet is to consult a specialist property solicitor.

Disputes that commonly arise

Where boundaries are not clearly noted in the original legal documents defining that parcel of land, over time, a certain reliance builds up on natural and artificial landmarks, such as fences, hedges and ditches. Commonly, when these are moved, boundary disputes erupt. Boundary disputes are as much a matter of managing communication, as they are of establishing clear boundaries. A number of times, hedges, fences and ditches get moved or changed when the property adjacent changes hands. The unfamiliarity between neighbours, may also contribute.

Sometimes, disputes occur between homeowners and environmental or municipal authorities. New roads, the upkeep of trees, boundary maintenance, or the benefit of property features, all depend on clearly distinguished boundaries.

There is no assumption of rights through possession in the law. So even if land, which you think belongs to you, has been used and claimed for years together by a neighbour or by the authorities, it does not automatically grant such neighbours or authorities any rights over that land. To formally claim rights, the claimant must file for adverse possession. The Land Registry gives the current owner on record, a period of 2 years in which to respond to such a claim of adverse possession. Only after evaluating the response, do formal rights get granted to the claiming party.

If you have doubts that your land has been usurped, over time, your first choice ought to be to consult a specialist property lawyer. Even if simply communicating the problem to your neighbour might solve it, it is better to keep an expert on your side.

How to establish boundaries

The first step in establishing boundaries should be to examine the earliest Title deeds. It is absolutely essential to determine that the language in the conveyance is specific, clear and comprehensive. Further, if a plan is attached, it should match the description. As a general rule of thumb, plans are less reliable that property descriptions, if there is a conflict between the two. This is because plans were earlier often prepared by laypersons without knowledge of trigonometry or surveying.

Alternatively, study the developer’s plans, and compare them to actual hedges, fences and ditches placed as a marker. Actually, erected demarcations have stronger legal force.

As explained before, relying on Land Registry plans would not be very helpful as these are indicative and do not guarantee boundaries. Scaling down Ordinance Survey plans would similarly not work, these plans focus on natural, geographic and common features, they do not specify boundaries.

Obtaining a surveyor’s opinion may also not suffice. A surveyor’s opinion is worthwhile only if the surveyor is a specialist in boundary demarcation and disputes, capable of providing an expert witness report and of standing before the court as an expert witness.

An aerial photograph of your property might come in handy as well. Though eroded natural demarcations or uprooted fences and hedges make it difficult to conclude boundaries definitively from such photos.
Finally, once you have all this baseline information, the best course would be to then consult a property law specialist solicitor.

How to resolve boundary disputes

In a dispute with a neighbour, start with amicable dialogue, sometimes, land that is important to you, may be insignificant to your neighbour. At the same time, it is worth starting to put together documents that establish boundaries, this will help you organise your discussions, keep them friendly. At the same time, communicate clearly.

If amicable discussions do not get you anywhere, it is useful at this point of time, to consult a property law specialist solicitor with all your documentation. Such a solicitor could plead for you, or mediate on your behalf.

If you and your neighbour get locked in solicitor fronted negotiations, your choice of solicitor is critical. You need support that resolves, not inflames. You could easily end up wasting substantial time, money and effort unless the dialogue is kept on a properly reconciliatory note, and your solicitor genuinely attempts to find middle ground.

If all attempts at negotiation fail, you have further options. You could attempt a mediation, involving both parties, their solicitors and a third party mediator. Or, in extreme cases, you could litigate.

Both of these options entail considerable expense. If you do wish to take matters this far and further, be sure the value of the property in dispute justifies the expense and effort. Be sure your solicitor has evaluated all possible information and confirmed that you have a viable case.

Mediation and litigation involve persistent, organised effort. Winning a point before a mediator, or before the judge, is as much a matter of carrying the moment, as it is of meticulous preparation and incisive insight. Your case would be strengthened if you choose the right expert and involve them early on in the cycle.

Need help dealing with a boundary dispute?

Call us now

If you believe that your rights are being encroached on and need specialist advice, please call us on 0800 014 8727 to discuss your case, or alternatively, fill out our simple online form and we will call you back at a time convenient to you.

We will always ensure we give you a detailed appraisal of your case and will quickly be able to tell you whether or not we are able to assist you in resolving the dispute.