Disputes with neighbours - garden
Disputes with your neighbours can be the most depressing and frustrating of all, most disputes and disagreements are to do with the garden regarding boundarys and rights.
It is unfortunate but many people have no idea about the legal rights regarding their outdoor space and boundaries. There are the main issues which are the most popular for disputes;
The boundary itself.
Your title plan which is held at your local registry office(bearing in mind your property is registered – it should be by now!) will show in an inverted ‘T’ the boundary on the property which is your responsibility. It is not always that clear as former residents may have had other agreements with your neighbours about the care of boundaries, but your legal responsibility/right will be indicated on the title plan. It is always prudent to check all of this before you sign any Contracts to buy a house, the Sellers Property Information Form or the new HIPS should give you some indication.
Always talk to the neighbours before you carry out any work on your boundary, they may have plants growing against a fence which will get damaged if you carry out any work without warning them first. If you are errecting a fence it is your responsibility to care for both sides of the panels so access to their garden is required.
On the other hand the neighbour on the other side of your boundary should seek your permission before attaching anything to your boundary/fence, this includes nails, wire, paint or stain or plants. the agreement you have is ‘subject to contract’ and is only verbal, but binding nevertheless. Neighbours do not usually seek to get permission in writing as most people get on but…………………!!
There may be occasions where the boundary responsibility has shifted, maybe the neighbour who does not have a legal responsibility for the boundary has erected a new boundary, buying and paying for materials which are now their property – on your boundary. This may have happened before you lived at the property. This can be a very delicate situation, but communication is paramount. It may end in you having to erect a boundary fence or structure on your side of the boundary already erected by the neighbour and meaning you may lose a few inches of your land to keep the peace. Alternative solutions can be reached through communication.
Any agreements with neighbours should carry on to progressive owners of properties, warts and all and any correspondence between parties should be kept to prove this. Any neighbourly disputes have to be disclosed when you are selling your property so they should be avoided where possible.
Boundary disputes cause people to do the most bizarre and un characteristic things and it is sometimes impossible to reason with the unreasonable and agreements cannot be reached. This can sometimes lead to legal action which is expensive and stressful so my advice is to communicate and be as friendly as possible with your neighbours, you have to live next to them!
I hope this advice is useful, I had a dispute recently with a neighbour and ended up writing several letters to them as they refused to communicate. The matter has gone away, hopefully resolved, and I have kept all communiction as I am going to put my house on the market soon.
Have a good Christmas and a Happy New Year!!
- 19 Dec, 2007
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