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Horrendous boundary dispute with new neighbour

(35 Posts)
hooliodancer Thu 19-Nov-15 18:25:01

We have lived in our house for 16 years. It is detached, and in the back garden there is fencing all around the perimeter. It is a tiny garden, 10 feet wide by 20 long. The fence is the same fence that was there when we moved in. The house was built in 1888.

In the 1930's the owners of our house sold a part of their garden- crucially there is no record of what part-time to the next door neighbours, who built a side extension right up to the boundary, so the physical boundary of half our garden is next doors side wall. The fence is attached to the neighbours back wall, but 8 inches in. So the rest of our garden, the boundary feature of which is a fence, is actually 8 inches wider than the bit which is next to the wall.

New neighbours want to extend right up to the boundary the whole length of their garden. They are claiming that our fence is in the wrong place and want to build on this 8 inch strip of land.

Our position is that as we have used this 8 inch strip for 16 years it is ours. I don't think we can use adverse possession, as we have no proof whose land this is. We don't know if the land sold many years ago was just the land the extension stands upon, or if they sold the whole length up to the back boundary. Although the feature of the extension from the back, i.e. Windows, suggest that this land was owned by the neighbour.

The title deeds show a straight line, however the scale would mean an 8 inch strip would not show up anyway. An architect told us that it is impossible to tell if the extension was built 8 inches too wide over the boundary, or whether the fence was put in the wrong position. He said it is what is physically there that matters now.

Our new neighbour will not accept this, and wants us to give this 8 inch strip back. If we had a huge garden of course I probably would do it for an easy life. But if he builds a wall up to what he thinks is his boundary our garden will be a corridor. We won't be able to have any plants on that side at all, it will look dreadful. All the plants would have to be dug up, as well as some railway sleeper steps. So we are sticking to our guns as the law SEEMS to be on our side.

We have legal cover on our house insurance, but have heard nightmare stories of this not being paid out.

This is causing so much stress, my partner and I are arguing constantly. I want to take it all the way if I can be sure of winning. He wants to compromise and give him half - which I don't think the neighbour would accept anyway.

I don't want to ruin the garden I have spent 16 years creating. I would love a bit of advice on this. Thanks.

cathpip Thu 19-Nov-15 18:33:27

Do the neighbours have planning permission yet? Because irrelevant of the 8inches I would be putting in a complaint about the extension esp if you feel it will impact on your outside space......

hooliodancer Thu 19-Nov-15 18:48:54

They are doing it under permitted development...
Though I understand they will still have to submit plans to the council.

gingerdad Thu 19-Nov-15 18:57:53

If they already have an extension how can they do it under permitted Development.

MisForMumNotMaid Thu 19-Nov-15 19:05:03

Is it your fence? If so they can't just remove it.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Thu 19-Nov-15 19:07:53

I would counter attack and tell them you think they've built their extension 8" onto your garden and you want them to pull it down.

Surely if they want to build on your garden they have to prove its theirs? And if they can't prove its theirs and the fence has been up for ages then they're going to struggle.

Littleonesaid Thu 19-Nov-15 19:10:12

My parents had a similar situation.

Their new neighbour ripped out the fence when they were out, so as a precaution I'd strongly suggest that you take lots of photos of the fence as it currently is.

Can you contact your old neighbours and ask them to confirm that the fence has been in that position for at least 12 years? What about neighbours the other side or to the back? Have you ever had a gardener who could confirm? They would only need to be able to speak to 12 years uninterrupted possession. Also old photos showing the garden might be useful if you have any?

So sorry that you're having this stress flowers

hooliodancer Thu 19-Nov-15 19:29:38


The first extension was built in 1937, so it now counts as the original house.

Yes I think the will struggle for proof. The fence has been up for 18 years. We have contacted our predecessors but they haven't got back to us.

Whatevva Thu 19-Nov-15 21:21:20

Collect as much evidence as you can: Previous owners of both houses, boundary survey by a surveyor used to this, old photographs, deeds, land registry for both houses (you can purchase these online for less than a fiver). If any of these do not offer you proof, they are not offering him proof either.

You will need to go to mediation eventually as part of the court process. Court processes are up to about 20 thousand each and judges hate them. Show yourself to be reasonable in all things, especially with a paper trail, but that does not mean you have to give in.

He is unlikely to have any physical proof - where the extension has been built is not proof without verification from other sources. It is just where it has been built.

Information from previous owners, or their relatives (their children who grew up there), as to why there is that 8 inch disparity will help - it is worth making the most of contacts from living there so long to track people down.

peteneras Fri 20-Nov-15 01:16:42

Have you spoken to your house insurers? You could argue your neighbour has trespassed into your land. Home insurance usually cover trespassing.

TheCraicDealer Sun 22-Nov-15 02:12:21

If there's a decent satellite image of the area on Google Earth use and retrieve that. You can find out the date of the satellite image if you download the Google Earth program (as opposed to just using the website). I've got imagery from 2008 for a case in work before which was right and handy. Ok, you're not going to be able to see loads of detail, but it should show that there's been no vast movement of the fence/garden layout in recent years.

ICantDecideOnAUsername Sun 22-Nov-15 06:59:27

I'm no legal or property expert but surely if the fence was in that position when they bought the house (I presume recently) then they can't ask for the land 'back'. That is the land they bought, no more, no less.

Collaborate Sun 22-Nov-15 07:54:08

HI OP. Have you posted this query on another forum too? Looks eerily familiar!

missmartha Mon 23-Nov-15 14:51:14

"They are doing it under permitted development..."

They can only do it under permitted development if they are proposing to build on their land, which they cannot, at this point, prove.

They must be able to show that their extension will only be on heir land other wise they need full planing permission.
Speak to the planning dept. of your LA for the low down on this. I speak truth though.

wowfudge Wed 25-Nov-15 07:06:48

Bear in mind that getting planning permission does not establish who owns what though - it is not a ruling on where the boundary is.

BoomKapow Wed 25-Nov-15 08:24:31

It sounds like the wal to their original extension is a party wall astride the boundary. If you imagin that the boundary between the two properties goes down the center of this line, and that the wall is approx 300mm wide, at the end of the wall the fence would be set in 150mm (6"?) from the wall face which sounds pretty much like what is happening.

See diagram 1!

From a planning perspective, if their garden is 20ft long as well and they are planning on building the whole way down that is only permitted development IF the neighbours i.e you do not object. Otherwise they need permission or to keep it to 4 m (if their house is also detached).

throwingpebbles Wed 25-Nov-15 08:57:26

From the facts you have told me I think you would have a good chance of success at the land registry actually. You would have strong argument that the boundary is in right place and that even if it isn't then you have "possessed" that strip for long enough
In the alternative, does the strip add much difference to your garden? Instead of both sides spending a fortune on legal costs why not consider doing a deal with them?

I am surprised they can do all that extension under PD, I would double check that

hooliodancer Thu 26-Nov-15 19:36:27

Am I not allowed to post on another forum? In a very desperate situation a few perspectives are useful. If you have nothing to add, why post?

To the helpful posters, thanks. Yes the strip is very important as our garden is very narrow. It's more like a courtyard size.

Their garden is about 15 feet long, but about 25 feet wide.

Things have moved on a bit now. He has accepted the boundary - though insists he is doing me a favour-but he is determine to build right up to the boundary. This means the party wall act comes in to play. He can have access to our land to build, can rip up our border adjacent to the boundary, take down our fence and force us to not have any plants near the wall. He will have to compensate us, but our garden will not be a garden any more, it will just be a nothing outdoor area. I love my garden, and think it's so unfair that I can be forced to rip up my plants because my neighbour wants an extension. It's crazy! We have spoken to the council and they think it is PD.

Collaborate Thu 26-Nov-15 22:20:06

Am I not allowed to post on another forum? In a very desperate situation a few perspectives are useful. If you have nothing to add, why post?

You have read far far too much in to my comment. I would not like to duplicate any comments I made on the other forum.

DeoGratias Fri 27-Nov-15 11:12:43

Why can he force you not to have plans near the wall?

Also could you not get him to pay for nice looking planters with plants in right up against the wall once it is back in perhaps with climbing plants to cover the whole of his wall.

At least you seem to have won on the boundary issue.

missmartha Fri 27-Nov-15 11:41:34

hooliodancer, do you know what you are entitled to under the Party Wall Act? It doesn't sound as if you do.

Make sure you have your own surveyor for this, your are entitled to have one and your neighbours are obliged to pay the fee.

Whatevva Fri 27-Nov-15 13:47:44

Some surveyors specialise in the party wall act - he will have to put back anything he removes in the same state and the surveyor will make sure that it is recorded properly (and he will have to pay for the surveyor, of your choice).

When we did it, in the early days of the Act, the possibilities of charges were endless, so it would be a foolish developer that did not take the requirements of the neighbour into account.

hooliodancer Fri 27-Nov-15 14:33:30

I have spoken to a party wall surveyor. Yes we will have our own surveyor, which the neighbour is absolutely astounded by!

It seems that the act allows him to use our land to build the wall. So our tiny garden will be unusable while the wall is being built. I have read the act, and totally unbelievably this is what it states! The act also allows that he should be able to access the wall for maintenance. My understanding is that if we put the fence back up, regrow plants etc, he can get us to rip it down at any point to maintain his wall. He can refuse us permission to enclose his wall, which I guess a fence and plants would do. I really wish this wasn't true and legal but our party wall surveyor says it is.

What we really want him to do is build behind the boundary, even by a few inches. But he won't, he says he wants to use all his land for his extension. To build behind the boundary would reduce the internal space by a foot, but he won't budge, even though he knows it will cost more for our party wall surveyor etc.

titchy Fri 27-Nov-15 14:43:49

But their foundations must also be completely on their land, and you normally don't build right to the edge of the concrete foundation slab, so you should get the actual wall a few inches away from your boundary.

Whatevva Fri 27-Nov-15 14:55:50

The extra foot will cost him dear.

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