Boundary disputes between neighbours are very distressing as it usually means that normal neighbourly relationships have broken down. Common causes for disputes are new extensions and overlapping walls or fences.
If a dispute arises it is first necessary to ascertain who owns the land in dispute. Usually this evidence will be shown in the title deeds and house plans, unless they have been changed by agreement or encroachment, i.e. occupation without the owners’ permission. If boundaries are not shown on the deeds then the law presumes that if fence posts or struts are on your side of the land then it belongs to you.
Boundaries are shown on a large scale Ordnance Survey map held by the Land Registry. However, Ordnance Survey plans use such features as hedges and ditches rather than legal boundaries and may not represent a true line. In a case in 2007 involving a boundary dispute, Lord Justice Laws commented that OS plans offer ‘an uncertain guide as to the precise boundary line’.
A boundary can change over the course of time for many reasons: a diverted water course, or a fence that is moved slightly every time it is replaced.
Unless you are experienced in this area it is best to take some specialist advice, as accurately identifying a boundary between properties needs specialist knowledge. Michelle Hayter is an experienced litigation and property solicitor in our Litigation Team; she comments “Most disputes are between adjoining neighbours and can very quickly escalate to bitter battles in court with all the ensuing costs. It is important to try and identify at the very beginning of a dispute whether there is a practical solution available that will satisfy both sides before this happens. Our Litigation Team are trained to try and find amicable solutions without recourse to expensive court proceedings.”
Frettens are pleased to offer a free initial consultation for all new clients. We have always offered this service because we recognise the importance for clients of deciding whether they can work with a particular solicitor and to find out more about the process and likely outcome. Contact Michelle or a member of our Litigation Team on 01202 499255 to arrange a free, no obligation initial appointment at either our Christchurch or New Forest office.