Rachael Kitchman, Solicitor at Graham & Rosen, looks at the best way to resolve a boundary dispute.

Do you get on with your neighbour – do you even know your neighbour?

The response to this is likely to vary. Some of us would be happy to invite the neighbours to our summer BBQ, whilst others have barely said two words to each other. Most, however, would agree that it is important to at least be respectful of our neighbours and keep things civil.

So what should you do when you fall out with your neighbour about the position of the boundary between your properties?

Stressful times

If resolving your differences over a cup of tea is simply not an option, then obtaining assistance early is important. Problems with neighbours can quickly become stressful and distressing, and when the problem is literally on your doorstep you can’t escape it.

It’s complicated

The problem with boundary disputes is that the law is a minefield and difficult to apply in practice. The Land Registry records the title to land but rarely records the position of the boundary, because they don’t usually know where it is. The boundary line on Land Registry plans therefore is for identification purposes only. Determining the boundary position involves looking at all of the evidence
available to include plans, deeds and physical and historical evidence.
A surveyor is also likely to be instructed to prepare a report.

Court should be a last resort

A boundary dispute can be referred to the appropriate court to make a decision but doing so is expensive, time consuming and can lead to irreparable bitterness between the parties. The outcome of a boundary dispute at trial is also difficult to predict and Judges usually have little sympathy for the parties. Issuing court proceedings therefore should be a last resort.

Getting the right advice

Land owners usually approach disputes emotionally in an attempt to protect what is theirs. This is understandable but counterproductive to resolving the dispute and preserving neighbourly relations. A Solicitor with the necessary experience
will take a more rational approach and will encourage you to look at the practical and economic factors. If an agreement cannot be reached with your neighbour by discussion or correspondence, then your Solicitor is likely to recommend an alternative dispute resolution method such as mediation.

Being involved in a dispute with your neighbour is never pleasant but as you may have to live next door to your neighbour for several years, an amicable solution is always best.

Written by: Rachael KitchmanGraham & Rosen Solicitors