Battle lines are often drawn over neighbours’ fences. This month, James Parden discusses the financial and emotional costs of boundary disputes…
There is a plethora of such reports, one of which was reported by The Times recently. A High Court Judge ruled that a couple’s “childish” game had no purpose but to block their neighbour’s right of way.
In this case, the homeowner affected argued successfully that his neighbours’ actions had interfered with his rights. The judge also ruled on the exact boundary line separating the two properties. The losing party was instructed to pay their own legal fees and those of their neighbour’s, estimated to be in the region of £98,000. We can, therefore, assume the final bill was around £200,000!
In my experience, a large number of boundary or right of way disputes can be settled at a very early stage, if the parties concerned are willing to discuss the issues. Any agreement reached can then be lodged with the Land Registry and recorded on the title deeds of each property.
Unfortunately, some people become so hung up on the ‘principle’ of the issue that they are determined to make their neighbours suffer. Once belligerence sets in, agreement is rare, leading to vast amounts of money being spent on court proceedings, with no guarantee the claim will be successful.
The harsh reality is that the losing party would probably have to sell their home to pay the legal fees resulting from the judgement, leaving a bitter taste in their mouths.
If you become embroiled in a disagreement over boundaries, contact a legal expert at the earliest opportunity. We will attempt to open talks with all parties involved to resolve the matter and only issue proceedings as a very last resort.
It is also worthwhile instructing a local chartered surveyor to prepare a report into the position of the offending boundary or right of way, in order to clarify and evidence what is being claimed. Even if it transpires you are in the wrong, an apology and discussion with your neighbours is far less costly than trying your luck in court.
We are experts in dealing with these types of disputes and have contacts throughout the region who can provide plans to help settle disagreements before they reach the point of no return.