Your neighbour may become not so neighbourly when the boundaries of your properties have not been clearly established. Building an extension to your kitchen, or adding ornamental shrubs in your backyard may cause your neighbour to come over to your place claiming that your construction or gardening is encroaching upon their property. Your neighbour might be referring to a portion of land which you have always believed to be yours.
In the UK, it is not uncommon to find no record of the exact boundaries between lands. There may also be discrepancies in what is physically seen as the boundary, and what is described in the title deed. While it is still the best option to settle things good-naturedly over a cup of tea, if this friendly gesture only ends up with you in the middle of an unresolved argument, you can call our property dispute solicitors, who can advise you on the next legal steps to be taken, from alternative dispute resolution to property dispute litigation.
A boundary indicates the size and location of your property with respect to other properties in the same area. It is an imaginary line that separates two contiguous lands, but it may be marked physically by artificial boundaries such as walls or fences, or natural boundaries such as rivers or creeks. It is described in legal documents of title, albeit, precision is not guaranteed when compared to the apparent boundary.
How boundaries are fixed
By agreement between the owners of two contiguous lands
By Legal Presumption
Legal and Technical Interpretation of Title Deeds
As you start to look into fixing your dispute, check your deeds, or any record that may establish your property’s boundaries. The original conveyance is a most helpful document, and may be reviewed to determine the physical features surrounding the subject property at the time. Comparing your documents with those of your neighbour’s can also shed light to the dispute. However, the technical matters may have to be explained fully by a boundary surveyor, and the legal jargons may necessitate the interpretation by a property dispute lawyer.
Other possible proof of boundaries – the following, among others, may also prove boundaries, if not established clearly in your deeds:
Particulars of Sale at an auction
Replies to pre-contract inquiries
Witness statements, where the witness may be a previous owner of the property or previous occupant
Alternative Resolution for Boundary Disputes
The next convenient method to resolve your issues involving boundaries, is for you and your neighbour to volunteer to undergo an alternative dispute resolution. This is less costly, speedier, and highly encouraged over a property litigation. Your property dispute lawyer can advise you on which alternative to undergo, and if mediation is chosen, he can draft for you a convincing proposal for negotiation.
Expert Determination – Here, the matter is placed entirely in the hands of one acknowledged by the parties as an expert. Upon such acknowledgment, the parties shall agree that the expert’s decision on their issue will be legally binding. If one party later on changes his mind and considers the expert’s call wrong, there will no redress for that party.
Mediation – Here, the disputing parties have the opportunity to negotiate a settlement that would be just and fair. It is beneficial if you employ the services of a property dispute solicitor to aid you work out the negotiation and compromise agreements to your advantage. For as long as they are not illegal, compromise agreements can be tailor-fitted even to mere whims of the parties. If the case is before a court, the latitude to grant just any arrangement would not be as extensive.
Land Registration Division of the Property Chamber
A boundary dispute may also be taken to the Land Registration Division of the Property Chamber. The proceeding here is less formal, and lawyers are not allowed before the chamber. Disputing parties will have to represent themselves and present their case witnesses themselves. However, there is no prohibition to hire property dispute solicitors to guide you externally.
When Boundary Dispute Leads to Litigation
When despite all efforts to do away with property litigation, your boundary dispute remains, it is time to seek out assistance from competent property litigation solicitors who can manage your case. They can also help find expert witnesses to back up the evidence presented to support your claim.
But, while litigation is costly and time consuming, it is considered the most authoritative way of settling a boundary dispute.
Exact Line of Boundary
Whatever the outcome of the litigation may be, pursue the registration of an Exact Line of Boundary by the Land Registry on the title registers of both properties. The chances of getting your property involved again in a boundary dispute will be minimized, because at this point, the boundaries have been accurately established.
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