Land disputes are a complex area of law and the most common topic of disputes is that of boundaries. People often assume that the boundary between their property and that of their neighbour runs in a straight line, however, this is rarely the case. Boundaries often change over time due to removal and replacement of fences and hedges, or agreements made with previous owners of the relative properties.
How can land disputes arise?
Difficulties can arise when property owners rely on Land Registry plans, as the line drawn around a property on the Land Registry plan is only an indicator of the general boundary, and is not intended to be an exact determination of the boundary. The boundary lines on plans are often drawn as thick lines and the width of a line can equate to several meters on the ground. Moreover, Land Registry plans will not identify whether the boundary is a wall, a fence or a hedge and quite often they do not identify ownership of the boundary. Ordnance Survey maps are equally unreliable as they often do not mark exact property boundaries.
A lot of disputes arise when changes are made to a boundary, for example, a wooden fence may be moved slightly when it is replaced or a hedge may be planted too close to the boundary causing it to encroach on the neighbouring land as it grows. Therefore, it may be a good idea to ask us to check the position with the boundary before you make any alterations or changes.
Quite often boundaries have to be determined by instructing an expert. However, even then, there can be disagreement between experts instructed by an adjoining property owner, and in these cases the dispute may have to be settled by being brought before the court for a Judge to make a decision.
Boundary and land disputes can be extremely stressful and costly. However, litigation should always be a last resort and we, at Fraser Dawbarns LLP, pride ourselves in being able to give you reliable advice at the outset. We can help by determining whether a dispute can be resolved through a site visit, correspondence or mediation, or by assisting you through the court process if agreement cannot be reached.