A boundary dispute is a disagreement between the owners or occupants of two neighbouring properties over where the boundary between their properties lies.
Boundary disputes are destructive in nature. They can lead to endless squabbles and irreparable breakdown in neighbourly relations. Ultimately, the dispute could make you decide to sell your property.
However, once a dispute has arisen, you may have difficulty selling. You must disclose a boundary dispute to a potential buyer when you sell your property which could put them off the purchase. It may also force you to accept an offer that is below the asking price. A neighbour dispute could even take 10% off the value of a home.
Some properties remain unsold for several years until the dispute is settled or the position of the boundary is determined by the court. You may look to the court for a favourable determination of the dispute, but even with a strong claim, the cost of taking legal action will almost certainly be greater than the value of the land. It could end up costing both parties tens of thousands of pounds.
Here are some tips to consider before you enter a boundary dispute:
- Pause and reflect on the importance of the contested land. Is the value of the land worth the cost of a lengthy dispute?
- Take early advice from a solicitor. They will be able to advise on the strength of your position and outline your options.
- Be respectful to your neighbour to avoid the dispute becoming personal. Try not to let tempers get out of control.
- Don’t make assumptions about the legal position of your boundary. Remember – you cannot determine the position of the boundary from your title plan alone. Title plans onlyshow ‘general boundaries’ and are often very inaccurate.
You must consider the contents of your ‘grandfather deeds’ which might provide clarity of the legal position of the land. Where these are not clear, other evidence will be relevant such as physical features on the ground, sales particulars, evidence of former owners, photographs, architectural and development drawings, etc.
Boundaries can also change over time. Extended periods of exclusive possession, uninterrupted use or historic agreements by previous owners can change the position of the boundary of a property.
- Consider early settlement. Once you have obtained some initial legal advice, an attempt to explore a settlement with your neighbour is often the most cost effective solution. This will give you an opportunity to come to a resolution without the need to go to court. A solicitor can suggest sensible and pragmatic ways of resolving a dispute and can enter into settlement negotiations on your behalf.
At Churchers, we have a long history of advising on boundary issues, negotiating settlements and resolving neighbour disputes at an early juncture. However, should a settlement not be possible, we have the expertise to act for you in any boundary dispute litigation.
Churchers can help bring about a resolution to your boundary dispute, giving you security, protecting the value of your home and going a long way towards restoring good neighbourly relations.