Purchasing a house or a piece of land is a major decision. It is important to understand the property boundaries and raise any concerns or queries with your property solicitor at the outset.
Boundary disputes are quite common, with a wide variety of disputes arising in relation to the position of hedges, lakes, fences, and overhanging foliage. These type of disputes generally arise after completion of the purchase, and it is common for them to escalate quickly with emotions running high given the close proximity of the parties involved.
It is also important to remember that the dispute is with your neighbour who you will undoubtedly see again in the future, so it is therefore advisable to try and use alternative methods of dispute resolution before considering any formal property litigation.
If you believe your neighbour has altered their property’s boundary and is encroaching/ trespassing upon your property, you should first look at the title plan and deeds for your property. You will have received this documentation from your conveyancing solicitor on completion of the property purchase. You can also obtain a copy of your property’s title plan from the Land Registry if you have misplaced your own hard copy.
The title plan will show a red line which illustrates the outline of your property borders. The deeds will also have a parcels clause which describe the property; this should enable you to identify the boundaries of your property. However, this is not always the case, for instance a vague description or even two conflicting descriptions have been known to occur within the parcels clause. If, there is a clear parcels clause with an incorrect description, the description may be entirely disregarded.
Alternatively, if your parcels clause contains two conflicting descriptions, it will be up to the Court to ascertain the parties’ true intention with the land.
It may be wise to first let your neighbour know that you believe they have gone beyond their own property boundary and are now encroaching on your premises. It is advisable to put this in writing and to have the correspondence signed and dated (this is particularly useful if proceedings are necessary at a later date).
Your neighbour may have been unaware of the boundary line, and might be willing to compromise, in which case no further action would be required. However, if your neighbour disputes the boundary line, you may wish to jointly appoint a surveyor to assess the exact location of the boundary. Depending on the surveyor’s report, you could both enter into a boundary agreement; you can apply to have this agreement added to your title plan at the Land Registry.
If you are unsure of the property litigation procedure relating to boundary disputes, it is always best to seek the guidance of a property dispute solicitor. They will be able to advise you on the different stages in the process and assess the strength of your claim.
Summerfield Browne Solicitors have offices in London, Birmingham, Cambridge, Oxford, Northampton and Market Harborough, Leicester
Published on 2nd March 2017
(Last updated 11th April 2017)