You’ve just moved into your new house and are so happy with everything, especially the garden. There are lots of plans to make the house become your home. Moving is stressful and all you want to do is unpack and start to settle in.
Then suddenly, you get a knock on the door by a disgruntled neighbour who’s threatening legal action over a long boundary dispute with the former homeowner. What do you do in this nightmare scenario?
In this article, I’m going to explain boundary disputes and offer some tips on what you should do.
What is a Boundary Dispute?
History is full of people fighting over who owns what. A boundary dispute is exactly the same. In simple terms, two people disagree over where the property border should be.
This may happen in the front garden or more commonly in the back. Two neighbours may have made an agreement over where a fence should be erected, but when one of them moves out, a dispute can start over again.
Imagine the situation. Two neighbours make an agreement. Both of them move out over time and new owners move in. One of them checks the deeds and finds that the other has part of their land. A dispute starts. They may want to get their land back from you. Or maybe you want to get it back from them.
What are Your Options?
Your options depend on how much you care. Boundary disputes are both costly in finance and time. Can you really be bothered over a few centimetres of land?
Regardless, the first thing is to check your deeds. The exact boundaries should be marked out. Always get legal advice about boundary disputes before making agreements.
The only thing to be aware of is to make sure that you address the issue sooner rather than later. All too often people will see the boundary difference, not care, and in a few years start it up again. Avoid this if you can. Nothing good will come out of it.
Another thing to be aware of is that if you don’t seek legal advice and resolve the dispute when it first arises, it’s only going to simmer and get worse. When it starts, finish it as soon as possible to stop it lingering on.
What Happens Next?
The solution is usually just changing the position of the fence or wall to a place that’s consistent with the property deeds. If you’ve just moved in, you could always try to negotiate that they pay for the new fence.
This may or may not work.
The cost of a new fence is nothing compared to the bills for legal proceedings and hiring a solicitor.
The Takeaway Message:
The first thing you need to ask yourself is if filing a dispute or allowing a neighbour to take you to court is really worth the time and cost. If you do find yourself in this position, check your deeds and get a legal opinion. And try to resolve it as fast as you can to stop it.