Resolving Boundary Disputes
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All about boundaries and its disputes?
A boundary can simply be defined as a frontier which marks the limits of an area. Boundaries comprise of walls, hedges, fences, stones and edgings just to mention but a few. Nevertheless, delineating one’s boundary has been a problem and an issue of concern since time immemorial.
It is common to hear of people complaining about breach of boundaries. This usually occurs when a homeowner infringes or makes changes to a boundary without gaining consent from their neighbour. Some of the major causes of boundary disputes include:
It may occur when a new resident moves in and finds an issue with a boundary that the old resident had no problem with.
When your neighbour wants to build right up to your boundary.
When the owner of an abutting property makes changes to your boundary without consulting you first.
How do I maintain my boundary?
Maintaining a boundary maybe simple as well as complex in its own aspect depending on the nature of the problem.
For simple boundary delineation some of the strategies you might put into place are like cutting hedges to ensure that they do not grow taller than 2 metres tall, with those fences facing the street being a metre tall. This can only be overridden upon acquiring a planning permission.
You may also be obliged to cut off trees and plants that extend past your boundary and return them to your neighbour. Driveways on the other hand have their rules and regulations contained in your shared driveway title documents. Having to draw up a wall on your land and partly on your neighbours in order to separate a driveway will require your neighbours’ consent to do so.
A party wall is a partition to those who share a wall with their neighbours. It is common to those with terraced or semi-detached houses and will require you to obtain permission from your neighbours before making some changes on the wall.
Complex boundary delineations are those which may prove difficult when it comes to deciphering a boundary. They may arise as a result of boundary lines changing over time without being recorded.
Contrary to the belief that boundary dictates who owns the land, it does not. As a matter of fact, boundaries do not outline a border nor do they always belong to the owner of the land they are on.
It is often a cumbersome does to find legal documents and title deeds that indicate precise boundary locations and whose responsibility the respective boundaries are. Land registry plans are vague in the aspect of the are generalised and only shows the approximate location of a boundary and so are ordnance survey maps. This lack of precision when it comes to boundary delineation may lead to boundary disputes.
I do I deal with this?
For Complex boundary disputes, you would want to be strategic about it. Rushing to the courts may not always be considered a prudent idea as you may be obliged to pay thousands as part of legal fees for a few centimetres, probably a tremendously huge amount of money to pay for something as simple as a hedge, a fence, a shared drainage, a driveway or an overhanging branch. Seeking expert from a chartered surveyor will save you all these.
A chartered surveyor will refer to features of the land inclusive of photographs deeds and legal documents in order to verify who owns the land. He will also survey the land, besides investigating all the relevant historical documents attached to the land.
Upon solving a dispute, he will draw up an accurate plan based on the agreed boundary and submit it to the Land Registry. This will officiate the boundary and make it legal under the land registration Act 2002 as a Boundary Agreement.
When the dispute remains unsolved, the surveyor can act as an expert witness in court whereby if there is little evidence to resolve the dispute, the boundary will belong to both the affected as a party boundary.
If you need advice on defining your boundaries of resolving a boundary dispute, consult a chartered surveyor to discuss your needs.