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Boundary dispute with neighbour

(43 Posts)
Hillhouse1 Mon 06-Mar-17 21:25:04

Hi I'm hoping someone can help. I have had a boundary dispute with a neighbour for some years. They have trespassed on to my land. I have my surveyor's report and the neighbours have theirs. In the end, I decided not to pursue things, but to just let things lie. The neighbours now want to sell their house (they have moved out and live somewhere else) but can't until the boundary dispute has been resolved. I have offered to sell them the land, but they have refused to accept my perfectly reasonable offer. I have suggested that they reinstate the boundary fence that they removed, but they flatly refuse. They had buyers for the house and when I spoke to them about the dispute, they said that they would not object to the fence being reinstated. However, the sellers refuse to cooperate. They are now threatening to instigate legal proceedings with a claim for full costs. Do they have any rights? And if so what can they do? I have offered to sell, or offered to have the fence reinstated, but as neither is what they want, they have refused.

Has anyone else encountered this problem? Thanks in advance.

Gingernaut Mon 06-Mar-17 21:26:54

They're idiots.

Have they stated what they do want?

xyzandabc Mon 06-Mar-17 21:29:39

What are they claiming for? Do they think they legally own your land?
What is their desired outcome?

Floggingmolly Mon 06-Mar-17 21:32:25

Well, from they're the one's trying to sell their house; it's more their problem than yours, surely?
Stop trying to accommodate the gobshite by offering to replace fences he's removed.
You don't have to do anything except ensure nobody uses your land and manages to acquire adverse possession of it.

EyeStye Mon 06-Mar-17 23:21:45

Presumably they won't buy the land or reinstate the fence as they say it was their land in the first place? No one here can advise on who actually owns the land as its highly fact specific. Will depend on the documents about ownership.
How much land is in dispute and how much did you offer to sell it for?

Twopeapods Mon 06-Mar-17 23:24:39

Do they think they own the land? And they want to have it as part of the property for selling?

ExplodedCloud Mon 06-Mar-17 23:26:55

What are they going to court over? Damages? I didn't think a court would rule on boundary disputes. That's why they're so intractable.

Hillhouse1 Tue 07-Mar-17 08:33:34

Unknown to me, the neighbours (about 10 years ago) knocked down the fence at the rear of my house in order to install a pedestrian gate next to the gate for their car. This was the only way that they could install a pedestrian gate - ie by encroaching on my land. They then assumed that the boundary was the wall of my garage. I employed a surveyor to help me with where the original boundary was and the neighbours (only on being threatened by my lawyer after ignoring all attempts at negotiation) then employed their surveyor who then produced a 45 page document with none of the pages marked with page numbers making it almost impossible to then refer back to the points that he had made. I let it rest for a while and then the neighbours put their house up on the market without telling the estate agents, nor the prospective buyers that there was a boundary dispute. The prospective buyers only found out when the details came in from their solicitors. I have offered to sell them the land for £1,000, then initially said yes, then within 24 hours, they rescinded this deal because the buyers had pulled out (they hadn't pulled out at this point) saying that because I had made the buyers pull out, they could only afford to pay me £500 or reinstate the fence. So I went for the reinstate the fence option, but they will not reinstate the fence to the end of my land because this will mean removing the pedestrian gate (even though the buyers have stated to me that they are not interested in the pedestrian gate),

I'm struggling to understand what they can charge me for. I feel as though I have been perfectly reasonable. I have not broken any contract, nor have I been negligent. And like ExplodedCloud - I have no idea why they are going to court other than to appear to be beating their chests at me.....

Floggingmolly Tue 07-Mar-17 08:38:54

Won't you find boundary lines on the land registry? confused. It actually sounds like he'd have a fair case for adverse possession if you allowed him to encroach on your land unimpeded ten years ago.
And you let him tear down your fence, and offered to replace it yourself? He obviously sees you as a complete pushover...

EyeStye Tue 07-Mar-17 08:55:02

I don't think you can completely dismiss their surveyors' report simply because it didn't have page numbers confused. What was there surveyors' conclusion? They can apply to court for a declaration that the land is theirs and you will have all the expense and stress of a court case (as will they but people are very silly about these things ).

Do you actually feel very strongly about this land? Won't £500 do?

EyeStye Tue 07-Mar-17 08:55:24

*their surveyor's not *there (shudder)

EyeStye Tue 07-Mar-17 08:55:54

And I did put my possessive apostrophes in the right place bloody iPhones

ExplodedCloud Tue 07-Mar-17 09:03:08

You do Molly but unless they reference fixed points they can be different to identify them clearly on the ground. And the scaled up lines can still give you quite a wide area that the boundary could be on.
So if the line goes from the corner of your house to the corner (actual corners) then it's easy to plot. If it runs near the corner it's not so easy.
I have to say unless it impacts on you in some practical way it's rarely worth a boundary dispute. If it's a third of your garden or it stops you accessing a part of your property I'd suggest living with it. Obviously now you feel angry with them and nobody's going to back down.

Floggingmolly Tue 07-Mar-17 09:11:46

Oh, I see. Yes, I suppose all plots aren't neat little rectangles...

Hillhouse1 Tue 07-Mar-17 09:26:27

Thanks for everyone's responses - it's been really useful hearing what other people think about my problem.

The next door neighbours are in all intents and purposes thugs. I have had to get the police out to them on 2 occasions and they have now been told that they cannot approach me.

Their surveyor's report was so full of whitewash and obfuscation that it was difficult for my surveyor to understand what the conclusion was.

I didn't let him tear down my fence - I didn't use the rear access of my garden at the time and it wasn't until they damaged my garage that I realised what they had done.

I'm just wondering if I can just sit tight and wait until they are prepared to negotiate, or is there anything that they can do to force me to agree to their terms - which seems to be what they want to happen - which is that they reinstate the fence to the pedestrian gate and no more - leaving the boundary stuck half down a straight line?

Floggingmolly Tue 07-Mar-17 09:30:16

What purpose does the pedestrian gate serve? Does it give them access to your land? confused

ExplodedCloud Tue 07-Mar-17 09:30:40

Gah. It should say 'Unless it's a third of your garden ... suggest living with it' obviously.

Hillhouse1 Tue 07-Mar-17 10:08:37

The purpose of the pedestrian gate was to allow their children to be able to exit their property at the rear. There was never an exit at the back of the house when they purchased the property, but they managed to force a car exit and installed very high gates. They then realised that their children could not exit the garden at the rear because they were too small to open the car gate, so the only way they could install a pedestrian gate was to move the angle of the car gate slightly back towards their house and this then allowed them the ability to install a pedestrian gate by using the space that had existed between my garage and the boundary fence. They then used the additional space to the south of the pedestrian gate to store their wheelie bins.

Can't remember if I've mentioned this before, but apart from being thugs, they are also wealthy thugs...... sad

KatyBerry Tue 07-Mar-17 10:17:37

you're already hitting them where it hurts in damaging thei rproperty sale. I'd send a copy of your surveyor's report.
And triple the price of the land. Bear in mind that if you do sell this area of land to them, you will incur conveyancing fees adn land registry fees to amend your own title. That's going to cost you WAY more than £1k. In fact, I'd be inclined to get a ballpark professional fees estimate, add the price of the surveyor's report you've had to have done and then add a price for the land itself. I suspect the fence will go up reasonably quickly thereafter.

Hillhouse1 Wed 08-Mar-17 08:45:42

Thanks KatyBerry. I offered to sell them the land for £1,000 with them paying for any land registry details. They initially agreed, then within 12 hours they rescinded this agreement saying that I had made them lose their buyer and so they couldn't afford the £1,000 any more (utter rubbish!). I am struggling to see how a court if it ever gets there could allow this to go ahead when the costs for purchasing the land are so little. Unfortunately, these individuals don't seem to operate in the same manner as most normal individuals - I'm guessing this is linked to their low IQ.....

Floggingmolly Wed 08-Mar-17 09:00:54

I still don't see the issue. By agreeing to buy the land, they've acknowledged that it belongs to you. By using your land, they're trespassing. What case do the think they have against you?

Hillhouse1 Wed 08-Mar-17 09:22:18

Floggingmolly I don't see the issue either, but I just worry when I'm sent emails saying that their solicitors are going to instigate legal proceedings against me with a claim for full costs because I'm not trained in law nor boundary issues. But it's really good to hear back from others and that they see things the way I do.

And it's a really good point that you have made: that they were prepared to buy the land at one point - they must have at that point acknowledged that it belonged to me. Thanks smile

Floggingmolly Wed 08-Mar-17 09:26:20

Full costs of what, though? confused. Surely not the replacement of a fence they removed themselves?? It doesn't sound like they have any case at all, really.
It's probably just bully boy nonsense, because you've annoyed them.
If it was me, I'd feel quite safe ignoring this completely.

namechangedtoday15 Wed 08-Mar-17 09:31:14

Not necessarily, they might just have been willing to pay you £1000 (even though they believe the land belongs to them) just for their sale to go through.

But in terms of selling the property, the dispute doesn't need to be resolved before they sell. They simply have to acknowledge the dispute on the property forms they complete so that a buyer is aware. If the buyer gets an explanation of the position and isn't particularly bothered then the sale can go through. You then have to start all over again (potentially) with a new neighbour.

SmokyMountains Wed 08-Mar-17 09:48:49

This is something I know a lot about.

The first thing to say is, you absolutely definitely under no circumstances want this to end in court. Up to the end of high court action it wouldn't be unusual for legal fees for a boundary dispute to be £100k. It is not necessarily up to you to decide if it goes to to court as the other neighbour might launch an action you would have to defend. (most, but not all home insurance would provide some cover for this as long as they decided you had not instigated the proceedings in any way).

Secondly, the situation would need very specialist advice from a barrister who specialises in boundary dispute about the possible outcomes. I would say that the fact that there was never a gate there before and an existing fence was taken down is very much in your favour. But land registry documents can not now be used in court to prove exact boundaries, only the approximate position. Eg a line on the document shows their is a boundary between a house and the pavement, not how far from the pavement or house the boundary should be, because the maps don't scale.

The easiest solution here would be to send a letter by registered post to the estate agents (so you can prove they got it) explain that there is a boundary dispute, that you intend to fully retain ownership of your land and the vendors are attempting to pass of some of your land as theirs to the purchasers. Instruct the estate agent that they must forward this information to the purchasers solicitors.

This will effectively stop any sale until it is sorted as no conveyancing solicitor would advise anyone to exchange in these circumstances and the estate agent will explain to your neighbours that they will never sell their house until it is fully resolved.

Do not enter into discussion with future prospective owners about whether they care about the gate etc. It puts you in a tricky position legally if someone bought it and then changed their mind etc....the correct procedure is to insist the fence is reinstalled OR accept agreed amount and land deed changes to end the boundary dispute and then the sale will go ahead without one.

Be very careful about your conduct, remembering that any/all of it might be looked at by a court in future. Don't be seen to be unreasonable by eg changing amount of money you want for the land etc. Do everything in writing. Don't ignore.

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