/ Boundary wall dispute
We're having a problem with our neighbour and the ownership of a garden wall we want to pull down and replace with a structural wall of an extension.
Logic and land registry plans (post 1925 land registry act) would both suggest to me at least that it is our wall and can do what we like with it.
Our neighbour is relying on an 1881 plan prior to our house being built to support his argument. I would say our post 1925 plan trumps his 1881 plan.
How should we progress? Is there an independent advisory body for this? Do we just get a really good lawyer and let them argue our case.
This is fun and expensive. I love our neighbour.
Check your deeds.
No ref to the wall in the deeds other than the self declaration on the previous owner. Not much use.
The traditional route is to consult a solicitor.
Then in due course, after a few thousand pounds spent researching the case, they will instruct a barrister for you.
Then will begin the first of many court hearings, trials, appeals and further appeals, during which time you will run up enormous costs.
Then, having lost your case at the Court of Appeal/Supreme Court you will be liable for a legal bill that dwarfs the value of your house, you will have to sell up and become a pauper. And you neighbours will loathe you and everything you stand for.
On the other hand, you could try your utmost to avoid resorting to law and try and agree something,
Look into Alternative Dispute Resolution.
The problem being that the neighbour wants us to make the extension 400mm narrower when it's only about 1800 at the narrow point. This means we can't fit a kitchen Worktop in and still pass it.
Also it's our wall he insists is his so I'm not really willing to be dictated to about what to do with our land.
We've just been advised that, absent a specific agreement to the contrary, boundary walls are jointly owned with a joint obligation to maintain.
This is in a rural situation (the walls are dry stone walls between fields); in a built-up area the presumption might be different (or the deeds more specific).
maybe put it to your neighbour that a noted disagreement could affect the value of their house, as it has to be declared when selling (AFAIK) ?
I'm a solicitor with a great deal of experience of boundary disputes.
I'm afraid Siward is pretty much on the money. Trangia will also be along in a moment with some sensible observations.
The trouble with ADR and the various other methods of resolving these disputes is that, while they are splendid in theory, they can only be used if both parties agree, and since generally in order to have a boundary dispute at all you need one party to be a bit of an arse, they often can't be agreed upon.
If they can't be, then the only two methods of resolving the dispute really are either some form of litigation (as to which see Siward) or asking the Land Registry to determine the boundary. This last is supposedly a vanilla alternative to litigation; the trouble is that if it gets contentious the LR refer it to a LR Adjudicator, which is basically the same as a court.
It's not the finest feature of English jurisprudence, I'm afraid.
Still, if you want to email me pdfs of the two plans, a photo of the thing and an account of why you think you're right and what he's saying, I'll give you a ten-minute freebie with a largely worthless gut reaction if you like.
Better a bad settlement of such a dispute than a successful litigation, though.
10 minutes of JCM's time on this is the best offer you'll get this month. I'd take him up if I were you.
If the wall does look to be in your neighbours favour, maybe there's a possibility of buying it off him? He might not charge that much for it and he can have a nice new wall next to his garden and possibly a choice of brick to sweeten the deal. Then it can bit written into the deeds once and for all.
No idea the feasibility of it by it may be an option worth considering. Though he could be an arse and want a million pounds for it.
> The problem being that the neighbour wants us to make the extension 400mm narrower when it's only about 1800 at the narrow point. This means we can't fit a kitchen Worktop in and still pass it.
> Also it's our wall he insists is his so I'm not really willing to be dictated to about what to do with our land.
That sounds fairly poorly planned and unpleasantly narrow to start with. A boundary dispute will never end well even if you win. The bad will generated will affect your house value from the perspective that you will have to declare that there is a dispute wth a neighbour and added to that you will be the source of the issue rather than your neighbour who just wants things left the way they are. If it was me I would be p***ed if one of my neighbours wanted to knock down our shared garden wall and replace it with the wall of their extension
As jon says you are in a nightmare situation, so invite your neighbours round for a chat over a bottle of wine!
These sorts of dispute never result in a satisfactory arrangement, particularly if a court imposes it. The looser will be bitter and you will both have unsaleable properties.
You, and they, should remember that you have to declare existing and previous boundary disputes to a purchaser, and this is usually enough to wreck a sale virtually blighting both of your properties.
If you can reach an amicable agreement before it escalates into a full blown dispute,so much the better, otherwise it may be cheaper in the long run, to redesign your extension so that it doesn't cause a flash point.
All this energy & angst over a few inches of land. Oh, dear!! And just for a bit more house. How sad!
Rather than pay legal fees why not save yourself the trouble and time and simply burn your money but invite your neighbour over to watch. He'll think you're odd but what the hell, it's better than a legal fight to the death. You're all doomed!!
If this dispute is anything like most he won't accept cash!
Can't you put your extension elsewhere? Maybe he has a point about not wanting a building right over his garden?
We've thought of all the options. Changed the design at our expense to make it more attractive from his side. The fact is we have a very narrow plot where every inch counts and he has about an acre. The wall for him is in the corner of his massive yard mostly behind a tree and covered in ivy. The new one will just be a bit taller but other than that identical.
Our neighbours the other side are totally happy with the proposal and have been very supportive. Invited us in to see there identically built extension. They also had a bet that the bloke would complain about any proposal.
All this aside, he's claiming that our bit of garden is his with no evedence whatsoever other than 'its always been mine' dispite the LR plan stating otherwise. We have sent him this evidence but he just ignores it and maintains his position.
Maybe the ivy is the issue. How about suggesting carefully stripping back the ivy and then pegging it to the new wall? We have some lovely ivy-covered walls I would be very unhappy to lose.
But insofar as the 'land' is concerned and your obvious 'title' issues, have you considered 'adverse possession' to settle your claim?
I suspect that JCM is in a far better position to comment and advise but worth looking at if this neighbour is being a complete knob.
Not sure of the English regs, but in Scotland you can only build right on the boundary line or else it has to be at least 1m (I think it's that - could be 1200mm) from it - nothing in between.
If the wall becomes the boundary, how will you gain access to it if you ever need to do any maintenance, say for a bit of pointing? Your neighbour won't be forced to give you access? Something similar happened to a friend of mine who was converting a barn and the field behind belonged to someone else.
There's something called the Access to Neighbouring Land Act, which enables the courts to grant access for repairs, but not for newbuild. I don't recognise the law you mention, though the Party Wall Act contains some rights for access to carry out some sorts of work.
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