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Boundary Dispute Advice

Jun 3, 2022

Thank you, for clicking on today’s Property Surveying blogpost topic.  Through our property blogpost, here at Stokemont we aim to discuss and address some of the more complex and complicated surveying topics that our surveyors deal with on a daily basis.

We understand that surveying procedures can often get complicated and confusing, and through this blogpost we aim to help inform and educate both our clients and the general public.

If you would like to discuss any of the topics that we have covered on our blogpost.  Please feel free to give our experienced and qualified RICS building surveyors a call today, and they will be more than happy to assist and advise you.

Boundary surveying is one of the most complicated areas of surveying that we undertake here at Stokemont.

When it comes to boundary surveying, there are a number of moving pieces which can often affect the manner in which the boundary dispute is administered, or resolved.

First and foremost, you have the boundary.  Over the years we have seen pretty much every type of boundary.

One common characteristic throughout all of the boundary disputes we deal with, is that in many cases, or in fact in almost all of them, it is very unlikely that the boundary line is in the same state as it would have been when originally set out.

With changes such as vegetation growth, tree growth, installation of new boundary fences, extensions, and upgraded maintenance.  It is very likely that these have all influenced and adjusted, even changed, the boundary line over the tenure of its life.

You have also got the all-important factor of the owners, or occupants, who have resided at the property over the course of its life.

This is one of the key factors in the creation and existence of boundary disputes, as in many cases you will have owners who are more garden-proud than others, often resulting in fences being changed, vegetation growth being pruned and maintained, and ultimately adjustments and minor changes to the location of the boundary line.

Irrespective of whatever the boundary dispute is, our biggest advice here at Stokemont, in an effort to avoid the costly and protracted procedures of boundary determination, is for both owners to engage in open and informed discussion.

Neighbourly discussion is likely to take place at some stage throughout the boundary process, whether it is at the direction of the Courts, or in an effort to avoid the issue.

Therefore, here at Stokemont, we would advise making attempts on this discussion as early and as soon as possible.

Furthermore, we would also advise that discussions at the initial outset are carried out in a verbal manner, as in many cases written letters, even as simple as a text message, or WhatsApp message, can often be misconstrued, misinterpreted and can have a negative effect and detriment on the overall matter being discussed.

The key thing about neighbourly discussions, is for each side to calmly put forward their belief on the boundary, with the other listening, and then presenting their own opinion or position.

Once the two neighbours have put forward their respective beliefs, at that stage it would be prudent for them to then enter some form of negotiation, or attempt at mediation to resolve or narrow whatever is in dispute.

If all else fails, and they are not able to get to a position of an agreed boundary, at this stage we would advise that both owners jointly instruct a surveyor to come in, assess the boundary on site, undertake desktop research and ultimately provide their boundary line determination and opinion.

The surveyor undertaking the boundary line is going to review the matter from an impartial perspective.  Furthermore, they are going to take a comprehensive and robust approach to research.  Often looking back as far as the property’s history goes, and in many cases prior to the construction of the property itself.

This informed position is going to go a long way to ensure that the surveyor has all of the necessary information to build a profile and map of exactly what that boundary has done over the tenure of its life.

Once they have got this, they can then present the information to the prospective clients, with the aim of hopefully advising them in such a matter that they can then make an informed decision as to where the boundary should really be.

The issues you have with this, is that in many cases even if the results are clear and transparent, you could find yourself in a position where one neighbour is unhappy with the outcome, as the effect or change to the boundary could be significant from an aesthetic or visual perspective that, on principle, they are not willing to accept.

It is important to note that if this does indeed occur, the procedures to follow are going to be legal, and ultimately the matter will rest in the Courts.

Court procedures are not only incredibly stressful, but also incredibly costly.

Therefore, we would advise that they are avoided at all costs and cases, as Court fees, solicitor fees, barrister fees, expert fees, and other fees all mount and rack up for what could be a very simple and straightforward outcome.

There is also the untold stress that Court procedures bring upon the respective owners.

Courts are also not the quickest vessel to deal with matters, and therefore it would not be unknown for Courts to take months to process the matter, all of which there is going to be a volatility between the respective owners, which can often be a very uncomfortable and unsettling position for them.

Here at Stokemont, we undertake multiple boundary instructions each and every week.  Over this time, we have seen them all, from the inches to the metres.

If you would like to discuss your boundary surveying matter with any of our RICS surveyors, please feel free to give us a call, and we would be more than happy to assist and advise you.

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