When disputes arise between you and your neighbours it can be a particularly stressful and unpleasant time.
Examples of problems can include: arguments over where the correct boundary to your property lies, issues over access and rights of way or anti-social behaviour. Unfortunately, unless carefully managed, a dispute with your neighbour can lead to expensive litigation, especially when feelings and emotions run high.
With boundary disputes and issues over access, rights of way or covenants, the starting point is usually to carefully review the title deeds to your property. Your land may benefit from express easements (rights of way) or you may be bound by covenants which restrict your use of your land or property. Restrictive covenants can include preventing the land being used in connection with a trade or business or a prohibition on the keeping of non-domestic animals.
Sometimes your rights may not be expressly set out in your deeds. For example; you may have been exercising a right of way over your neighbour’s land for many years without a written or verbal agreement. You may then seek to establish a right based on long (at least 20 years), continuous and uninterrupted use of the land. This is known as a prescriptive right. Evidence from other people who have lived in the area for many years, photographs, plans and maps can all be useful evidence in these kind of disputes. Sometimes it can also be necessary to track down former neighbours to see what they can remember about how the land was used. It may also be necessary to instruct a surveyor to provide expert evidence.
When you are purchasing a property, it is very important to inspect the land or property to see if you can see anything that could affect your use of the land in the future.
If legal action is required, then depending on the nature of the dispute, proceedings may be issued in the County Courts or you could make an application to the Lands Chamber (formerly known as the Lands Tribunal). However, Court proceedings should be a last resort and attempts should be made to try and resolve the dispute by negotiation first.
If you are experiencing problems with your neighbours, then contact our dispute resolution team for advice and assistance on 0845 050 1958 or fill out an online application form.