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Important to settle boundary disputes before they escalate  

It is preferable for boundary disputes to be settled amicably, but quite often they can escalate into a permanent falling out with neighbours.

So what should you do?

Homeowners can disagree about walls or fences and the height of trees and who pays for rectifying problems.

As ever, compromise is a good way forward possibly by sharing the cost of new fencing or the maintenance of more permanent structures like a boundary wall.

Those who rent should always ask the landlord to deal with the problem and never make any changes without permission.

What are your boundaries and are you responsible for maintaining them?

Check your title deeds to see who is responsible and/or those of your neighbour.

Title Deeds for your property or neighbouring properties can be purchased from the Land Registry for a small fee.

Be aware that when viewing the title plan, the boundaries shown are general boundaries meaning the precise line is undetermined unless an application has been made for it to be determined.

If you want to do work on a wall that’s on a boundary, it’s likely to be a ‘party wall’ and the Government offers specific advice here.

Examples of Party Walls

  • A wall that stands astride the boundary line between two premises even if the wall has not been built against nor does not form a part of the neighbour’s building.
  • A wall that divides two buildings and forms a part of the structure of both buildings.
  • A flank wall of a building that has been built against is a party wall to the extent that both buildings use it.
  • A garden wall that stands astride the boundary is called a Party Fence Wall (this does not include fences and hedges).

Before carrying out any building work, you should always check if a Party Wall notice (or similar eg work on floors between flats etc) is required.

Try to find a solution with your neighbour

If you know where the boundary is and you don’t need to follow the process for party walls, the best approach is to talk to your neighbour.

Talk to them face to face if you can and write down what has been agreed. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to them, write to them or ask someone to contact them for you. Keep copies of any written or digital correspondence.

If your neighbour owns the wall or fence

Your neighbour doesn’t have to change a wall or fence just because you ask them to.

Equally, you can’t make changes to your side of the fence or wall such as painting it without their permission.

If the wall or fence seems dangerous, point this out because your neighbour might not be aware. If they don’t repair it, you can report a dangerous wall or structure to your council on GOV.UK.

If you own the wall or fence

The legal documents relating to your home may insist you keep boundary walls or fences in a good state of repair.

Maintenance is important as the council or your neighbour could act against you if the wall or fence is not safe.

As ever, disputes with neighbours can be delicate matters and seeking professional help at an early stage prevent disputes from escalating.

For help and advice on boundary issues or civil disputes, call our team today.

Mander Hadley

Mander Hadley Solicitors is not only a long established firm, but is vibrant and successful, with a forward thinking approach.