Whether your property is residential or commercial, it is vital to know the position of boundaries, extent of access rights and any rights others may have over the land before purchase.
Disputes are often distressing as relationships are likely to have broken down, yet the parties are compelled to continue living or working in close proximity. The monetary cost of taking such disputes through the Court system is often disproportionate to the financial (not personal) value of the piece of land or access in question.
Boundary disputes can arise in many ways; a fence adjusted or erected without consultation, overhanging vegetation/house extensions, interference with boundary features.
Rights of way may be recorded in writing or acquired through other means such as long usage. Disputes arise over matters including the existence of the right, the route, the use permitted and maintenance, in particular where the right is not defined in clear terms by the title documentation. Shared driveways and common access paths are a frequent cause of problems.
The Courts have given clear warnings about the need to consider alternative means of resolving disputes of this nature. It is sensible to try and resolve the matter on an amicable footing given the parties will remain neighbours at least in the interim. If that will not work, other avenues can be explored such as negotiation between solicitors, the involvement of an independent surveyor and mediation. These methods are more flexible, often quicker, cheaper and less confrontational than the Court process.
We are however able and experienced in pursuing these claims through the First Tier Tribunal, Upper Tribunal and / or the Court system where appropriate. Cases in which we have acted include:
- Representing the successful defendants in a dispute over a strip of land at the foot of their garden over which their neighbour claimed ownership. We examined the pre registration deeds as far back as the 19th century when the strip appeared to be a drover’s path. Through evidence of neighbours and prior owners our clients established the 30 years occupation necessary to defeat the claim as the neighbouring land had once been Church property. The majority of the costs were recovered from the opponent.
- Acting for a group of residents concerning obstruction of a right of way through the erection of demountable bollards. This dispute was resolved by negotiation.
- Acting for the Defendants in a claim for a right of way across the foot of their garden to a pedestrian door in a garage block. This was not recorded in their Deeds. The dispute settled at mediation.
- Acting for a residents company in successful defence of a claim as to the meaning of a restrictive covenant – Parsons & Anor v Thatchers Wood Residents Company Ltd & Ors (2011) Lawtel AC9700880
- Acting for owner of unregistered former track in claim to close registered title obtained by neighbour based on adverse possession. Following contested hearing in the Property Tribunal, neighbour’s title was closed in favour of unregistered title. Majority of costs were recovered from the unsuccessful opponent.