31 October 2018

Pushing the boundaries – neighbour disputes and how to resolve them

By Amanda Nudds, Solicitor, Hayes + Storr.

Neighbour disputes are nothing new and can arise for many reasons. One of the most common neighbour disputes relates to boundaries. Boundary disputes are often complex, and as the parties are frequently emotionally involved, it can be stressful and therefore important to try and reach a resolution as soon as possible, although it is not unusual for parties to be arguing over very small areas of land over long periods of time.

Parties will usually consider their boundary to be marked by a physical feature on the land such as a hedge or fence but these structures are not always consistent with Land Registry plans. It is often only when physical features such as these are removed or called into question that the actual position of the boundary is queried.

The first attempt at resolving any boundary dispute should always be to approach your neighbour first to see if there is a way forward to resolve issues amicably between you. This is not always possible and depends on the extent of the issue, how long it has been going on for and the relationship between the parties. As each dispute is factually different, a solicitor can provide specific advice on the issues you are experiencing and on the best course of action to try and resolve matters.

Initially, it is important to establish the boundary from deeds, documents and evidence, and consider whether they have been amended in any way – perhaps by informal agreement or by one party’s conduct over time. If you have tried to resolve the issue directly with your neighbour but your attempts have been unsuccessful, a solicitor can write to your neighbour to set out your position and try to work towards a satisfactory resolution for all parties.

There are occasions when correspondence between the parties still does not resolve matters. Before embarking on Court proceedings which can be an expensive process and take many months, the parties should consider Alternative Dispute Resolution. This is a term used to describe a range of formal methods for resolving disputes which can include mediation, adjudication and expert determination. If the parties cannot agree to resolve matters this way, or if mediation has been attempted but no agreement reached, then ultimately Court or Property Tribunal proceedings will be the final stage.

Bear in mind that it is necessary to disclose neighbour disputes when it comes to selling your property. If an issue escalates between you and your neighbour that may reasonably affect a buyers decision to purchase your property, your buyer could be in a position to take legal action against you in the future.

This article aims to supply general information, but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek our specific advice.

If you would like further advice on this matter please contact Amanda on 01328 863231. If you require advice on any other legal matter call 01328 863231 or email law@hayes-storr.com.

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