Boundary and Property Disputes
Most properties these days are registered with 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. Also sometimes evidence from local residents who have lived at the properties in the past or have lived nearby can 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 very 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. This is often known as adverse possession or squatters' rights. If the land is unregistered then a 12 year period is applied. Where the land is registered the time period is 10 years.
Rights of way such as shared driveways or entrances and paths across land can be a source of problems. The right of way as originally set out may well now be used in a different way with perhaps increased traffic or vehicles instead of pedestrians. Alternatively, a right of way may not have been used for a number of years and questions can arise whether it has "lapsed".
See also our FAQ's on Boundary and Property Disputes