Thankfully, the vast majority of people get on well with their neighbours and live peacefully with those nearby. Yet, and sometimes surprisingly quickly, this serenity can all too easily be shattered if there is a disagreement or dispute between neighbours, leading to acrimony, hostility and even the threat of a Court case. This is when legal advice can be indispensable in understanding your rights, knowing where you stand and, ideally, how to resolve what can be a very difficult situation.
Disputes between neighbours often centre on the exact boundary line between their properties. This might arise if one of them wants to install a new fence, hedge or wall to mark the separation between them, or if one of them is carrying out building or gardening work up to the boundary line. One of the parties may take the view that in doing so, the other has moved the boundary, sometimes by as little as an inch or two.
A neighbour seeking to grab more land in this way then they are strictly entitled is often viewed very seriously by the affected party, and rightly so. Not many people are prepared to put up with their neighbours chipping away at their land in this way, with the consequences for their property’s value. A feature of these cases is the fear that if they allow this to happen, who knows what their neighbour will try and take next?
In practice, it can be something of a challenge to be clear exactly where a boundary line is as the plans in title deeds are often at a small scale, meaning that the thickness of the line on the plan, when expanded to the scale of the land itself, could be six inches or so thick. As a result, the line on the plan may not show exactly where the true boundary is.
Other neighbourhood disputes involve shared driveways or rights of way that two or more properties may all have rights to use. One of the property owners that use the right of way might decide to block it off, causing problems for the other owners. It is important to act quickly in these situations, to avoid any suggestion that the other user of the drive or right of way has accepted that the blockage or obstruction is allowable.
One point that is sometimes overlooked in boundary disputes is the possibility that the parties may be under a duty to reveal the occurrence of the dispute to potential purchasers of their property when they come to sell. One of the questions on the Sellers Property Information Form specifically asks about disputes and when selling the property, the seller may be expected to reveal the dispute even if it was successfully resolved. This could put potential purchasers off from buying.
The nightmare to avoid is lengthy and very expensive legal proceedings at Court. We offer practical, cost-effective advice to try and resolve these sorts of disputes.
For more advice please contact Adam Manning – Amanning@biscoes-law.co.uk