Boundary and Property Disputes
Most properties and parcels of land are these days registered at the Land Registry. However, the vast majority of the land boundaries shown on the registered plans are imprecise. The result is that disputes often arise between neighbours as to where the boundary lies. To resolve these problems it is usually necessary to refer to other matters such as old title deeds, maps, photographs and features at the property such as fences or hedges. Caution has to be applied when looking at physical features on the ground such as fences or hedges as they may not have been put in the right place. This can cause confusion as to where the true boundary lies. Evidence from local residents who have lived at the property in the past or have lived nearby can also be of use.
Once a boundary line dispute has been resolved then it is usual to lodge documentation at the Land Registry identifying the true position of the boundary. This is usually done by way of a detailed map or plan; possibly with measurements and angles of where the true boundary lies.
In some instances it can be possible for a piece of land to be acquired through long occupation. This is known as adverse possession or "squatters' rights". If the land is unregistered then a 12 year period of occupation is applied. Where the land is registered the time period is 10 years.
Rights of way such as shared driveways, entrances or paths across land can be a source of problems. The right of way as originally set out in a deed may well now be used in a different way with say increased traffic or vehicles instead of pedestrians or horses. If say a right of way has not been used for a number of years questions can arise whether it has "lapsed".
· Acting for clients in dispute with their neighbour over the position of the boundary between their two properties. The matter could not be resolved so it proceeded to a fully contested court hearing. The judge decided that the boundary was in the position that our clients argued it should be.
See also our FAQ's on Boundary and Property Disputes