My neighbours have erected a wall on my land. They get irate when challenged. What should I do?
During my career as a Chartered Surveyor, I have had many clients come to me with boundary wall issues. It is their belief that their neighbours new wall or fence is not where it should be, i.e. it has moved onto their land.
According to gov.uk, the boundary lines are not always fully recorded between two properties. Who owns the trees, hedges, fence or wall between two properties simply does not exist.
It is not a straight forward process and finding out where your property boundary is requires expert advice which may include reviewing its title plan. Title plans are maps held with HM Land Registry, which is a non-ministerial department that was formed in 1862.
Its purpose is to enable people to register the ownership of their land or property. As an expert in this field, I am amazed that in the majority of cases these maps/plans do not have measurements recorded on them. Given the intent behind the purpose of the maps/plans, this should be a logical addition.
Title plans add an image to the written description of a property and shows general boundaries of the land and may also include parts of any adjoining land. However, it will not show boundary lines that protrude out.
If you are thinking about purchasing a property, it’s a wise idea to check its title plan.
This will allow you to foresee any potential issues and/or view that what’s up for sale more or less matches the title plan information.
When there are concerns you have to ask several questions:
Q - Has your neighbour undertaken his building work within the law?
Q - When did they do these works?
Q - Did they serve you a section 1(1) or (2) notice one month before the start of his works?
Your party wall notice should outline:
a) how the works are to be carried out,
b) a ‘schedule of condition’ about your adjoining property* and
c) actual drawings that reflect the details of the suggested works.
d) your statutory rights.
*photographs of the adjoining property are usually attached to the schedule of condition.
If you have not received a party wall notice you may need to get an injunction served on your neighbour immediately. An injunction can get the building works stopped. Read more about how an injunction works.
Building without a party wall agreement goes against The Party Wall Act, etc. 1996 and is not allowed. Read how I got on at Court when dealing with an injunction.
If you have received a party wall notice but still have concerns, contact your Surveyor. He will explain to you that it is not always possible to define exactly where your legal boundary lays.
During this type of dispute, it’s important to keep calm and follow the advice of your Surveyor. Avoid going to Court as Solicitors fees will soon see your costs spiral out of control.
Discuss the matter with your Surveyor as he may consider that adverse possession has occurred. Adverse possession is when someone treats their neighbours land as though it were his own and he then takes ownership of it. The term adverse possession is also known as squatters rights.
This act usually occurs when a fence, or wall, is erected and stands on land that does not belong to them. Adverse possession usually occurs over a long period of time. After 12 years, if no objection is made, the rightful land owner may lose his rights to claim back his land.
Another way to resolve your boundary matter is to make an application to the Land Registry to define your boundary. They can help only if there is enough proof to verify its position. Each case is assessed by reviewing old title deeds, historical photographs and images. It will help your case if you are able to submit relevant documents, old photographs and witness statements.
Determining boundaries can be a complex issue to resolve. We always recommend talking with the involved neighbours first to reach an amicable agreement, but understand that this is not always possible.
Our experienced Party Wall Surveyors have dealt with hundreds of boundary wall disputes. We have seen this problem occur across the UK, in houses big and small.
If you have a situation that feels out of control or would like a second opinion – Antino and Associates can help. We can act as your Surveyor and deal with your dispute.
We are a team of professionals that understand the stresses that can be experienced. It is our aim to offer advice that is easy to understand, provide reports that are unbiased and give speedy resolutions.
We regularly travel to clients across the UK. Do you live in Cambridge, London, Essex or Norfolk? Call 01245 490 019 today to make an appointment that’s convenient for you.