The Understanding of right of way and boundary issues

The Understanding Of Right Of Way And Boundary Issues

Make sure you know where your land ends and where your neighbour’s land begins.  Disputes over boundaries and right of way can cause relationships to sour. If possible, the best course of action in a boundary dispute is to settle the issue amicably. If an amicable solution is not possible you will need to hire a solicitor to investigate the issue for you.

Work out the position of the boundary

The first step is to establish exactly where the boundary lines are. Your deeds or lease should clearly outline this but may differ for the following reasons: 

  • If the previous owners have agreed to alter the boundaries. Get legal advice to work out whether the agreement is legally binding on you.
  • If your neighbour has been using your land continuously for at least the last 12 years. This is known as adverse possession. This law can be complicated so legal advice would be required.

The Boundaries Are Not Outlined in the Lease or Deeds

If the boundaries are not outlined in the deeds or lease, there may be a legal presumption as to their position. A presumption can be contradicted by evidence such as photographs, plans or correspondence, which can be produced as illustrated in these examples –

  • flats: the flat is normally taken to include its external walls, even if the landlord has obligations to do external repairs.
  • fences: if a fence is supported by upright posts on one side, it is normally taken to belong to the owner on that side
  • party walls: these are walls dividing terraced or semi-detached houses or flats. Generally, they are assumed to be divided down the middle, with half belonging to each owner. Repairs are usually undertaken at the joint expense

Why Would you Need A Barrier Around Your Property?

You wouldn’t be required to have a fence or barrier unless:

  • your deeds state that you must have a barrier around your property,
  • you are placing visitors to your property in danger by not having a barrier in place,
  • you are storing dangerous objects on your property,
  • you are carrying out building work close to the street.

Planning Restrictions In Place

You will need planning permission if you wish to build a tall fence than 2 metres. You do not need to apply for planning permission if you wish to have a hedge.

A Dispute Can Be Costly

The cost of resolving a boundary dispute can vary wildly depending on whether it can be resolved without legal involvement. Getting into a legal battle with a neighbour can cause lots of stress and ill-feeling.

If you want to solve your dispute while keeping costs down, you and your neighbour should:

  1. remain on good terms throughout,
  2. accept that neither of you knows precisely where the boundary is,
  3. work out the factors that have led to the dispute,
  4. negotiate a settlement between yourselves,
  5. use surveyors and solicitors wisely,
  6. try to avoid taking the matter to court if you can resolve it yourself 
  7. ask the Land Registry to record the new boundary that you have agreed upon.

McPartland & Sons has solicitors in both our property and litigation teams who have considerable experience in claims of this nature.

If you have a query in respect of a land or property dispute, contact our team to discuss matters in further detail.  

Related blogs:

How to register a property – as explained by a solicitor

Legal considerations when signing a lease on commercial property

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