What is a land boundary dispute?

Land boundary disputes occur when two people believe they have the right to a piece of land. These disputes often start when one person puts up a fence, wall or building on land which another person believes belongs to them.

When it comes to property boundaries, even the smallest change can lead to trouble if it’s not dealt with carefully. For example, replacing a hedge with a fence will set a far more precise boundary which could lead to a dispute if the owners of the neighbouring land don’t agree with where the new boundary / fence is located.

Land disputes can create an intolerable situation with your neighbour and can be extremely stressful for all involved. They can last a number of years and be very expensive. To avoid unnecessary conflict, if you are thinking of changing or moving a boundary divider – or if your neighbour has – it is best to seek specialist advice and try to come to an amicable agreement with your neighbour as soon as possible.

How can I find out the exact boundary of my property?

Every piece of land and property, whether or not it is registered, has exact legal boundaries, which divides one property from another.

The physical boundary of a property can often be marked by a fence, wall or hedge, but these markers may or may not follow the line of the legal boundary, as they can change gradually over time. It’s important to remember that boundaries are not necessarily straight lines down the middle of the land.

In order to establish a boundary, you should gather as much information as possible about your property and the bordering properties. Check your Title Deeds of the property and obtain information from the Land Registry as this should give you some idea of where your property boundary begins and ends. That being said, the red line drawn around the property on the Land Registry plan only shows the general boundary and can often be vaguely defined.

If you think the boundaries are not clearly defined in the title deeds, you should consult a solicitor who may commission a surveyor to survey the land, check deeds and the plans attached to them and refer to historical documents and aerial photographs.

You should then reach an agreement with your neighbour on where the boundary should be. Then, once you have found an acceptable compromise, an agreement can be drawn up and submitted to the Land Registry, ensuring that the boundary is clearly established in the records.

How are land boundary disputes resolved?

If you are in a dispute with a neighbour, you should always try in the first instance to resolve it as part of an amicable discussion.

Before starting conversations, pull together documents that establish boundaries as this will help you form your discussions. If you are unable to agree boundaries harmoniously, it is useful to consult a solicitor at an early stage and show them your documentation.

Once you have instructed a solicitor they will consider the title deeds to the properties, as well as other indicators such as old photographs, witness evidence and the actual property to determine where they believe the boundary is.

It is often the case though that your neighbour may also have instructed a solicitor who believes the boundary is somewhere else. This is the most common reason why land dispute cases end up in courts with a judge making the final decision based on the collective evidence.

Remember though, litigation should be a last resort. Most boundary disputes can be resolved through correspondence or mediation.

Why choose CEL Solicitors?

CEL Solicitors are experts in civil litigation with extensive experience in boundary dispute claims. Our highly trained dispute resolution solicitors can provide you with practical advice and representation if you have a boundary dispute with your neighbour.

We’ll work tirelessly to achieve the outcomes most important to you including:

  • preventing a neighbour from encroaching on your land
  • providing clarity on where the boundary should be
  • help you to maximise the space on your land by allowing you to build up to the boundary line
  • advise you on the Party Wall Act process and bring or defend claims for adverse possession.

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