If you can avoid a boundary dispute, do so, almost at any cost, unless it is causing you a significant problem. What can start as a minor disagreement can soon turn into a major conflict that ends up in court?
Once you end up in court, the chances are you are going to start incurring legal fees, and these will not be a major issue early on. However, if the problem does not resolve itself, or if you decide to appeal against a decision made by the courts, then those legal costs can mount.
There is also one other matter which must be taken into consideration if you decide to sell your property – if you are involved in a current boundary dispute with a neighbour, then you have to declare this to the prospective purchaser who, more than likely, will run a mile and give your property a wide berth after that. If you are thinking of selling your property, then the best advice would be for you to try and resolve the problem amicably. However, if that fails, then tie up any loose ends with your solicitor before marketing the property.
What may set you back when reading this is that while you will likely be approaching this subject from challenging the actions of a neighbour who appears to be encroaching on your land, there is every chance it could be the other way round. This should then help you to understand that boundary disputes can be easily avoided if people act sensibly from the onset.
How to avoid a boundary dispute?
One of the most common events which end in a boundary dispute is when an area of overgrown land which separates two properties is cleared, and the person who does the clearing then erects a new boundary fence, wall or timber panelling without discussing anything with their neighbour.
So many boundary disputes can be avoided if you have an open and friendly discussion with your neighbour to help avoid them feeling you are deliberately encroaching on their land. If you agree on a dividing line between your two properties, invite them to check your work as you go along, it is a ‘neighbourly’ thing to do after all.
Hedges can be a real barrier!
The same potential for an antagonistic situation is when a hedge is replaced with a fence. Hedges can be notoriously thick, anything up to six feet wide. If there is no old fencing hidden within the hedge, then how do you know where the boundary is? Just because you have taken down the hedge does not automatically give you legal ownership of the full width of the strip of land the hedge occupied.
One of the most frustrating things about boundary disputes is that not only do they usually involve very narrow strips of the land but also the amount of money that can be spent on a boundary dispute bears no resemblance to the value of the land being fought over.
Win at all costs!
All too often boundary disputes escalate from a place of not wanting to give up any of your property, no matter how small an amount of land, to only not allowing your neighbour to ‘win’, no matter the cost. It becomes personal rather than practical.
Seek legal advice
Suppose you have a neighbour who has a reputation for being difficult or awkward. In that case, one of the most successful approaches, if you sense there is potential for disagreement about a boundary, is to engage the services of a chartered surveyor or chartered land surveyor, and in conjunction with your solicitor, furnish them with as much information as you can to show where the boundary is believed to be.
You should ensure they have a copy of the property’s title deeds as this will show a clear boundary, though unfortunately seldom do these boundaries come with exact measurements. You should then meet with your neighbour and obtain their confirmation they are happy with where the boundary will be. This confirmation must be in writing, and the agreement should then be lodged with the Land Registry to guarantee that there are established and indisputable records where the boundary is between your two properties.
If you have an ongoing boundary dispute with your neighbour, or you sense that there is the potential for one, here at Qredible.co.uk, we suggest you get in touch with one of our neighbour disputes solicitors, and they shall guide you on the most effective course of action.
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