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Pandemic pushes homeowners to inadvertently cross boundaries
Disputes between homeowning neighbours are on the rise, due in part to the increase in the amount of time spent at home during the pandemic. Our property disputes department has seen a 150% increase in the number clients caught in boundary disputes over the last 18 months.
Property Disputes Partner Tom Edwards says: “Since the start of the pandemic people have been spending much more time at home and in their gardens, which has led them to become irritated by issues that they might have previously not noticed or ignored. More time at home and less travel abroad has seen a huge uplift in both home and garden improvements and new fences, garden upgrades and extensions have in turn led to lots of disputes revolving around boundaries
“The fundamental problem lays in how to work out the location of the boundary. Often, people solely rely on the red boundary lines indicated on Land Registry title plans to determine a boundary, but in most cases, this is not the appropriate procedure because those red boundary lines usually only show the general location of the boundary, so may not match the precise location of the boundary or the physical boundary on the ground. Boundaries can also change over time depending on how land is used. This can lead to disputes and upset, particularly where one neighbour tries to build or extend their garden onto a neighbour’s property because they think they own more than they actually do.”
Tom adds: “There are cases where neighbours have spent thousands of pounds trying to address a boundary issue and even gone to court over a boundary dispute. Costs can escalate quickly and sometimes owners risk losing their home due to the costs involved. These disputes not only cost time and money, but they also have a huge impact on the mental wellbeing of the people involved.
“There is more to boundary determination than meets the eye, so if there is any doubt as to the location of the boundary of a property or a dispute has already arisen, people should not hesitate to contact a specialist property lawyer or land surveyor to understand their position and determination of the exact boundary to resolve any issues as quickly and as cost effectively as possible.
“Another important thing to remember is always communicate with your neighbour before works commences, as it is often the lack of prior communication that can cause a dispute to become a bigger issue than it needs to be.”
What can we do to help?
Our Dispute's team provides affordable and easy to access legal advice for property disputes and helps to establish the correct boundary lines by reviewing title deeds, as well as organising and liaising with surveyors to plot physical features to determine the precise boundary.