Boundary Disputes Solved With Common Sense
(but also legally correct)
If you need help and advise with regard to boundary disputes, party wall disputes, dampness problems, independent valuations, property surveys, building surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, structural surveys, home buyers reports or any other property matters please free phone 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat.
We have been dealing with a boundary dispute which would normally be seen as a very clear cut case.
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Boundary dispute, where is the boundary?
Our clients, with a reasonable sized garden, recently got fed up of looking at the metal chain link fence and all the overgrown trees, bushes and conifers and decided to put up a wooden fence several metres in front of it to hide the area, and the new fence does look very smart. However, it may have been smarter in hindsight to have maintained the trees, bushes and conifers. However, having said that, it was a large garden and this was probably the cheapest option, although it has led to many other things happening.
Love thy neighbour
Within a few months of the new fence being put up (remember the old chain link fence was still in place) the neighbours to the rear of the property, and there were three in total, decided to do some land claiming. They took down the wire fence and claimed the several metres of extra land as theirs. They did a very good job of clearing the trees, bushes and conifers. They extended their fencing to meet the new fence. One in particular has great gardening skills and has prepared a vegetable plot, one has good building skills and has put up a shed and paved the area, and the last one has just moved their washing line!
To anyone coming in and using the gardens this would now appear to be part of their garden, and indeed if the house came to be sold it would look like it was their garden to anyone that viewed the property. These are very permanent alterations.
Establishing the boundary line, a measurement check with the Deeds
From a surveying point of view establishing the legal boundary line is relatively simple in this instance, as the original corner of the property had a substantial brick wall, which was still present and we could line this up with concrete posts. The two rear gardens had simply infilled in the gap between the last fence panel and the new fence put up by our clients, so it lined through with the wall, the concrete post and finally the shed of the property adjoining our clients. This physical evidence was also backed up with Land Registry drawings and historic photos that the owners had.
In this particular case the Deeds were marked up in such a fashion that the boundary could be checked, so we carried this out using a 30 metre tape. We would have equally carried this out with theodolites if so required. In this case it really was very obvious where the boundary line was, particularly if you stood in the adjoining neighbours gardens to the side, as opposed to the rear neighbour garden.
However, our clients had spoken briefly and in a light-hearted manor (we are advised) with the three trespassers, we call them this because that is what they have done, trespassed onto their rear neighbour's land, and one advised that they needed further information and the other two didn't answer the door!
The owner knew the answer before they asked us, they just wanted to make sure they were legally correct, also some advice on negotiating.
Often we find with our clients that they are half way there towards a solution, they need someone with more detailed knowledge and experience of dealing with boundary disputes to discuss the matter with to make their mind up. For example, in this case they wanted:
Clarification that they could legally prove that the neighbours are trespassing, all three of them.
The legal implications if they didn't do anything and just left the new boundary as it was.
The legal implications if they came to sell the property and left the boundary as it was.
They needed advice on once they had decided on a course of action, how best to get to that point.
The skill in these situations usually is the communication and negotiation, once the facts of the law have been established.
We were duly asked to advise.
Mediation, not confrontation or court costs
With the ever increasing level of court costs and solicitors fees it is important to get a common sense solution that all parties would be happy with. This is what we term 'mediation'. Our clients, the owners, were not overly bothered about having the land back as their gardens were quite big enough, however the neighbours at the bottom of the garden wouldn't let go of the land for love nor money. We say nor money, but we do mean in this case that they didn't want to pay for the land either!
Equally, our client didn't want a protracted legal case with the associated legal bills.
We therefore proposed that we write a letter, which myself, as a surveyor with specialist knowledge in boundaries, would deliver and explain the contents of to the rear neighbours.
Do people really read reports? In our experience, no!
As you may, or may not, know people tend to skim read these days. This is why we recommended that we actually delivered the report because then we could explain it to them.
The Google generation
Incidentally it's said that skim reading has been brought about by the use of Google and other such search engines, such as Yahoo!, AOL, Ask, etc and we even have what's known as a Google generation who haven't lived in a world without Google. The first generation was born into a digital age, or born digital, as it's known, and now we have the next generation, which is the Google generation. We know this is an aside, but interestingly enough they found a University that's been studying this and they said that most people today tend to have knowledge that's broad rather than deep. They also talk about attention spans reducing, and interestingly they argued that computers were better than TV, as they were interactive and usually required some sort of response.
The importance of a surveyor meeting all the parties involved in the dispute
We feel it is very important for the surveyor to have, what we would term, a cup of tea meeting with the person or persons with which you have the dispute. This can avoid a conflict situation, which can otherwise arise if either person in conflict goes round yourself and you simply can't help but have some passionate feelings about the problem. It is much better for someone who has dealt with this scenario many times and can present your case in the best light to get the neighbours agreement to work with you, rather than work against you. The last thing you really need is to go to court.
Your insurance may cover you for boundary disputes
We have come across quite a few property insurances which cover a certain amount of advice where there are boundary disputes or other type of disputes.
Independent advice for both parties
We can, if you so wish, come in where our fee is jointly shared with both parties and offer our independent opinion as to the best way forward. We look forward to your phone call.
Independent property advice from property professionals
If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a surveyor with regard to valuations, surveys, building surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, structural surveys, home buyers reports or any other property matters please contact 0800 298 5424 for a surveyor to give you a call back.
You may also be interested to read these articles on boundaries:
Boundary Disputes Article - based on a Presentation
Boundary Dispute - A Case Study
Where is my Boundary?
Property articles to get you talking
We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).
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If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from surveyors with regard to building disputes we can offer an expert witness service and will comply with the Civil Procedures Rules Part 35. For a friendly chat please call 0800 298 5424 .