Keep things happy on the home front – How to enjoy a dispute-free Spring!

Spring has sprung and now we are getting in to the Summer, people may be considering moving house or getting out in the garden, or decorating their properties. We put some commonly asked questions on these topics to our Conveyancing team.

Q1. How long does the process of buying and selling a house take?
It really depends on a number of matters eg. How many parties are in the chain? Your financial arrangements – do you require a mortgage? Are there any problems with the title deeds? Searches?

If there is a chain and mortgages required we would normally say allow 6 – 8 weeks. However, if there is no chain or mortgages required and you are prepared to risk not having any searches or enquiries raised it can be completed within a week. In some circumstances we can exchange contracts within one day. This is very unusual in that the Client knew the property very well and did not require a mortgage, no survey, no searches or enquiries raised. You only move as quickly as the slowest person in the chain.

Q2. One of the fences at my property has fallen down, how do I know to whom it belongs?
You need to check your title deeds. If these are silent (i.e. the deeds do not indicate one way or the other to whom the boundary belongs) then it is probably a shared boundary and comes under the provision of the Party Wall Act 1996. If the boundary is shared, then the best course of action would be to speak to your neighbour before carrying out any work.

Q3. Can I cut down a neighbours tree or bush which obstructs my view?
Yes you can lop any overhanging branches up to your boundary, but you must give these branches back to the neighbouring owner. Under the terms of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 if your neighbour’s trees or bushes adversely affect the property and are more than 2 metres high it is possible to raise the matter with the local authority. However, the best course of action is to speak to your neighbour first (politely!).

Q4. If I have a shared driveway where does the boundary lie?
You need to check your deeds which would indicate the extent of your ownership.

Q5. Can I put a ladder on my neighbours property to paint my house?
You need to check your deeds as these may include a right of entry over the neighbouring property to maintain your property. However, you would need to give the necessary notice that you intend to exercise this right and repair any damage caused. If your deeds are silent, then under the Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992 you can apply to the County Court for access. Again the best course of action would be to speak to your neighbour first.

Although these questions are very common, they’re by no means the only ones we get asked regarding property boundaries and people’s rights regarding their neighbours – especially at this time of year!

For more details on any of these matters, or if you have any related concerns, contact the legal team at Fraser Dawbarns.