Boundaries and Neighbourly Disputes
Boundary disputes between neighbours are unfortunately very common, and a minor disagreement can quickly become a full scale dispute involving solicitor’s letters and the threat of court action. Even more damaging are the costs involved. Therefore, it pays to think hard before taking legal action. You would be better served obtaining the advice of a Chartered Surveyor, preferably to act for both parties.
Land cannot be stolen, but it can be possessed by someone other than the rightful owner (known as Adverse Possession), and if that situation continues long enough, the adverse possessor (trespasser) may eventually become the rightful owner. That adverse possession might only be a small but valuable parcel of land.
So if you know that someone is squatting or trespassing on your land and you do nothing about it, you could eventually lose it.
The prospect of an adverse possessor being rewarded with the title to the land he is claiming is an encouragement to squatters. The lack of sanction of a failed adverse possession, by means of a criminal record and a prison sentence, means there is no deterrent against squatters.
Establishing the exact boundary
Accurately identifying the boundary between properties needs specialist knowledge. The red line drawn around a property on a Land Registry plan only shows the general boundary. It does not identify whether the boundary runs along the centre of a hedge or along one side of it. Ordnance Survey maps are equally unreliable because as part of the mapping process, they do not indicate exact boundaries. Thus a line surrounding a property is not necessarily the property boundary. Also the boundary is usually shown as a pencil line, which at the scale of the map might represent 0.5m or more on the ground.
Boundaries can change over time for many reasons: a diverted water course, or a wooden fence that moves slightly each time it is replaced. The reason for such changes is rarely recorded and can lead to disputes, especially if the owner has lost the right to move the boundary line back to its original position.
The matter may ultimately be resolved before going to court, or the court may define the boundary line and issue an order to that effect.
Access to Neighbours Property
If you want to carry out repairs to property or land you may need to have access to your neighbours property or land in order to carry out these repairs. There may be a right of entry specifically for the purposes of inspection or repair in the property’s legal documents. If there is no such right, or no agreement can be reached, the law allows you as the person wishing to carry out repairs to apply to the county court for an access order allowing you to enter your neighbours land to carry out the repairs.
We have the appropriate experience and have acted for a number of clients, either singly or jointly, to resolve boundary and other disputes. We are also registered Expert Witnesses familiar with the latest civil procedure rules, preparing reports and acting as an expert witness to the court.