Why boundary disputes arise and how to avoid them

A boundary dispute can arise for many different reasons and can often result in a long, drawn-out disagreement between neighbours. In this article, Peter Morgan, managing partner at Hutchinson Thomas, explains how disputes can arise and what you can do about them.

Disagreeing with your neighbours is not only stressful but having an unresolved boundary dispute can also lower the value of any land or property even result in difficulty when it comes to selling that land or property.

Establishing boundaries for your property is therefore important. It determines what land the rights and liabilities of the property owner relate to.

There are many reasons why a boundary dispute may arise between neighbours, these include:

  • When erecting walls or fences or planting a hedge – where the neighbours disagree on the position of them.
  • A neighbour cuts down a hedge, line of trees, or removes a fence or wall that the adjoining neighbour thought was theirs.
  • If a boundary wall collapses or needs repairing, there can be a dispute between neighbours about who is responsible for fixing it or paying for the repair.
  • Disputes when trees or hedges grow over the boundary line
  • Where a landowner wishes to build close to a boundary and the position of the boundary is unclear of the neighbours believe it to be in a different position
  • If there is a change over time in the position of the physical features that neighbours treated as marking the boundary such as the course of a river or the growth of hedges and trees.
  • A mistake has occurred during the process of the ownership of land being transferred or when the seller gives incorrect information about the position of the so the new owner is misinformed.

Often the best initial course of action is to consult and discuss the issue with the neighbour. A mutually agreeable course of action is usually best.

Unfortunately, however, reaching a satisfactory agreement amicably is not always possible and, in such circumstances, or where a party would like some assistance prior to approaching the neighbour where the position is unclear, that is where our experienced team can help.

At Hutchinson Thomas, we have considerable experience in helping people with boundary disputes and aim to do so in an efficient and cost-effective manner, whilst always conscious of the importance of amicable neighbourly relations.

We can give advice either in person, by Teams/Zoom or by telephone. For experienced legal advice contact Peter Morgan on 01639 640154 or email peter.morgan@hutchinsonthomas.com