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Disputes and Litigation

Boundary Disputes

Boundary disputes arise when two or more neighbouring parties disagree about the location of a boundary line between two properties. Our solicitors work with you to find the best outcome and achieve a resolution that avoids undue unpleasantness, unnecessary costs, and prolonged anxiety and worry.

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Property boundary disputes

Legal boundaries separate all land and property. Fences, hedges and walls often mark boundaries. However, these physical features are not necessarily legal boundary markers as fences, hedges, and walls can be moved over time.

To determine where a property boundary lies, the first step is to check your property title deeds which can be obtained from the Land Registry. These can be vague, and sometimes, the boundary line is not clearly defined. In this case, a solicitor can help you determine the boundary line by commissioning a surveyor to survey the land. They will also check aerial photos and title deeds, and plans against historical documents.

Sometimes a boundary line is clearly marked in a title deed, but the boundary line is no longer valid. This can be due to adjustments to the boundary by agreement or ‘adverse possession’.

Adverse possession may apply if somebody who did not originally own a piece of land has occupied it for over twelve years and other statutory requirements have been met, they may now own it through adverse possession. However, since a substantial change in the law in 2003, it has become harder for people to acquire land through adverse possession.

If you are planning to buy a property but are worried about a potential dispute over a boundary, talk to your conveyancing solicitor. Factors to look out for are structures like a shed overhanging a fence line, a straight fence with a sudden curve, or a fence or other boundary in an odd position.

The area is complex, but our specialist solicitors are able to assess all relevant information fully.

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Boundary wall and fence disputes

Usually, you are responsible for the wall or the fence on the right-hand side of your property, and your property title deeds will clearly show this. However, sometimes boundary ownership is not clear.

A wall is generally viewed as a more definite boundary marker than a fence, as fences rot and are replaced more frequently over time.

Sometimes a dispute can arise between neighbours about maintaining a boundary wall or fence. It can be expensive to maintain walls and replace fences, so it is vital that ownership is clearly established. Disputes need to be resolved quickly, particularly if there is an unsafe wall.

The Party Wall Act 1996 regulates alterations to walls and fences outdoors and changes to shared walls and ceilings inside properties. This Act mainly covers large structural changes which could damage an adjoining property. If you or your neighbour are planning to carry out renovations or your neighbour is carrying out works that impact the adjoining wall, it is essential to speak to a solicitor to ensure compliance with the Act and protect your interests.

Land boundary disputes

When two people believe they have the right to occupy a piece of land, this can cause boundary disputes. Often a dispute arises because one party builds an extension, an outbuilding, a fence or a wall on land which another person thinks belongs to them.

To find out where a legal boundary lies, a solicitor can look at the title deeds to the properties. They may also examine a range of other evidence, including photographs, plans, historical documents and evidence from witnesses.

Resolving boundary disputes

Boundary disputes can be extremely stressful and difficult for everybody involved. If you or your neighbour disagree, the first step is to try to reach a calm and amicable agreement by looking at documentary evidence together.

If you agree on a property boundary line, you can instruct our specialist solicitors to draw up a legal agreement to submit to the Land Registry. This will ensure that the boundary is officially established and recorded.

Where an amicable agreement cannot be reached, our solicitors can help you. They may negotiate with the other party’s solicitor to resolve the issue. If the dispute is not resolved at this stage, then it will still help to clarify both of your positions.

Another way to resolve the dispute is through mediation. An independent mediator will facilitate discussions between you and your neighbour to help you to reach an agreement. Mediation is a formal process that usually results in a quicker, less stressful and cheaper conclusion than taking matters to court. A constructive settlement can also be reached to resolve the dispute, which is not an outcome that a court can order.

Resolving a dispute in court should be a last resort. At court, the Judge will need to assess the evidence, often involving expert surveyor reports. Our solicitors will build a strong case and support you throughout.

How much does a boundary dispute cost?

The cost of a boundary dispute varies considerably as this will depend on whether your case can be settled early or proceeds to court.

Our dispute resolution solicitors will do everything possible to help you to resolve your dispute quickly to reduce stress and keep costs down.

Do you need legal help to settle a dispute?

Whether you would like specialist advice about boundary disputes or legal support to negotiate a settlement with a neighbour, we can help you.

Davisons were established in 1985 and has many years of experience in resolving property disputes through negotiation, mediation, and court action if necessary.

Have any questions or need any help?

Our team of specialist lawyers are experts in their field. Be confident in their advice and decisions to help get the right outcome for you. Contact us today to see how we can help