Boundary disputes between neighbours are unfortunately very common these days. If you are currently involved in a boundary dispute with a neighbour you would do well to look at these words of a prominent UK judge who was ruling on a boundary dispute that had gone all the way to court when he said

“There are too many calamitous neighbour disputes in the courts. Greater use should be made of the services of local mediators, who have specialist legal and surveying skills and are experienced in alternative dispute resolution. An attempt at mediation should be made right at the beginning of the dispute and certainly well before things turn nasty and become expensive. By the time neighbours get to court it is often too late for court-based ADR and mediation schemes to have much impact. Litigation hardens attitudes. Costs become an additional aggravating issue. Almost by its own momentum the case that cried out for compromise moves onwards and upwards to a conclusion that is disastrous for one of the parties, possibly for both.”

Boundary Disputes

So what can be done if you are currently having boundary disputes with a neighbour with whom you share a boundary? Well before you go to a solicitor you would better served obtaining the Land Registry Title Documents for both your property and the neighbouring property. The Title Plan and the Title Register (also known as the Title Deeds) is the first place you need to look, contained within these documents is usually the means to resolve the matter. Even if you end up going to a solicitor you will need these documents and they usually charge much more than some online Land Registry companies so it will be money well spent. Image: Simon Howden /

Another important factor in boundary disputes is the lack, in English law, of a concept of theft of land. Plants, statues, paving stones, parked cars, and almost anything else including the soil itself, may be stolen from your land, but the land itself cannot be stolen. Land can be possessed by someone other than the rightful owner, and if that possession is adverse to the interests of the rightful owner then the adverse possessor may eventually become the rightful owner. But if the rightful owner wins a civil case to recover his land, then the adverse possessor does not gain a criminal conviction for theft and cannot be sent to prison (unless of course he has demonstrated a contempt of court during the course of the trial). The prospect of an adverse possessor being rewarded with the title to the land he is claiming is an encouragement to squatters. The lack of sanction of a failed adverse possession, by means of a criminal record and a prison sentence, means there is no deterrent against squatters.If you want to carry out repairs to property or land you may need to have access to your neighbouring property or land in order to carry out these repairs. This can be a major cause of Boundary Disputes

Unregistered Land - Ownership Search

There may be a right of entry specifically for the purposes of inspection or repair in the property’s legal documents. If there is no such right, or no agreement can be reached, the law allows you as the person wishing to carry out repairs to apply to the county court for an access order allowing you to enter your neighbour’s land to carry out the repairs. There is a fee for the application.

You can see our 2002 Land Registration Act for more information regarding both Boundary Disputes and other Aspects of Right of Way in the UK.

If you wish to apply for an access order you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, a solicitor, land researcher or a Citizens Advice Bureau. We hope we have helped you with your Boundary Disputes

Image: Simon Howden /