Residential Property Disputes
It is not uncommon for issues or points of disagreement to arise in respect of residential property
You may disagree with your neighbour about the use of a common access way, the position of the boundary between your properties, or who is entitled to park where. Perhaps you are the joint owner of a property and are in dispute about your interest or share in it. You may have tried to resolve the problem informally, but that hasn’t worked. Equally, you may just want to better understand your legal position before approaching the other party.
At Eric Robinson Solicitors our team of specialist lawyers have many years’ experience of helping clients resolve their residential property issues. Every dispute has the potential to become protracted and expensive. Involving us at an early stage could help bring yours to an end quickly and amicably.
As a starting point we offer a no-obligation, fixed-fee one-hour interview for £125 plus VAT (£150) where we can examine any title deeds, plans or documents and advise you on your position. At the end of that meeting you will have a better understanding of where you stand and what your options are. If you decide to instruct us beyond this initial meeting then we will discuss with you the various funding options that may be available and we will help you find the one to suit you.
We can advise on:
- Rights of way
- Boundary disputes
- Access to neighbouring land
- Encroachment onto your land
- Party wall issues where building works on neighbouring land or attached buildings are potentially interfering with your land and buildings.
- Adverse possession (‘squatters rights’) claims
- Parking disputes
- Blocked access disputes
- Disputes between joint property owners and those claiming an interest in the property
How do you determine the proper position of a boundary?
The first place to look is the Title Deeds to your property. Your Deeds will normally contain a description of the extent of your property and there will also be plans. If your Title Deeds do not contain a definitive answer, or if the plans only show indicative boundary lines, you will in all likelihood be required to gather documentary evidence that will hopefully serve so as to clarify the issue. Such evidence may take the form of old Title Deeds and plans, photographs, and the recollections of former owners. The physical configuration of the boundary area may also provide answers.
Do I need to instruct an expert to determine the position of a boundary?
In certain instances, it may not be possible to determine the proper position of a boundary with reference to existing evidence such as Title Deeds. When this sort of situation arises, it may be helpful to instruct a specialist land surveyor to examine the land. When surveyors are instructed, they can either be appointed by one or both of the parties concerned in the position of the boundary.
Who owns a boundary?
There is no one size fits all rule which dictates who is responsible for maintaining a boundary and any features that run along a boundary line (i.e. fences and walls). Some Title Deeds specify which property owner is responsible for a boundary however some Title Deeds do not provide this information. If it is unclear who is responsible for maintaining the boundary it would be sensible to talk to your neighbour before you take any steps to construct or replace any walls and fences.
Is my neighbour allowed to remove a fence or wall?
The answer to this question will always depend on the individual facts of each case. If a fence or wall is situated entirely upon one neighbour’s land, then in theory the structure could be lawfully removed. The Title Deeds of some properties contain obligations that require property owners to maintain and leave in situ certain boundary structures and features. Equally, some boundary features such as party walls may be jointly owned. Many properties are not subject to such obligations meaning that there is no legal requirement that a fence or wall must exist.
Can I obtain access to my neighbour’s land so that I can carry out repairs to my property?
It goes without saying that you should only seek to enter someone else’s land where you have clear permission to do so. If you are unable to obtain permission from your neighbour to enter onto their land, and if this is preventing you from carrying out repairs to your property, you may be able to apply to the court seeking an Order that permission is granted. We would always recommend that you speak with your neighbour in the first instance because an application to the court should only be viewed as a last resort.
How do I stop my neighbour encroaching on my property?
A property owner can only build on or fence off their own land. If you find yourself in a situation where you can clearly demonstrate that your neighbour is encroaching on to your land you a entitled to insist that the encroachment ceases so that the boundaries of your property are respected.
What can I do where there is a risk that a neighbour’s building works may adversely affect my property?
In certain scenarios building works that will affect joint boundary structures, or which will take place within close proximity to your property, need to be undertaken with reference to the rules and requirements set out within The Party Wall Act 1996. If your neighbour fails to follow the procedures contained in the Act then you may be able to take legal action and seek damages for any losses that you have suffered. Furthermore, the Act can require your neighbour to put various safeguards in place before commencing any works that could have an impact upon the integrity of your property.
What can I do where the access to my property is blocked?
Some properties rely upon a right of access over someone else’s land. This type of arrangement is normally recorded against the Title Deeds of all the affected properties. It is also common practice for the precise nature of the right to be described within the Title Deeds so that neighbours know how the right can be exercised (i.e. does the right allow for vehicular access or does it only allow access on foot?). In certain instances, the right may have come to exist legally by reason of their being nothing more than an unwritten understanding that access can be obtained. Regardless of how your right has been established, you are entitled to exercise it free from substantial interference.
When does a co-ownership situation arise?
In the normal course co-ownership issues arises where two people buy a property together. Both individuals will have their names recorded as property owners within the Title Deeds to the property. Disputes can arise where the relationship between these two individuals breaks down and it is not possible for an agreement to reached regarding what should happen to the property. For example, one of the owner’s wishes to sell it whilst the other does not.
What is the status of someone who has contributed part of the purchase monies but who does not appear on the Title Deeds?
These days it is increasingly common for property purchases to be funded with monies provided by third parties such as relatives and friends. Purchases of this sort usually do not record the family member or friend as an owner of the property within the Title Deeds. This is because when the agreement to provide a contribution is arrived at it is always assumed that relations will remain amicable. However, relations can break down and in such circumstances the individual who has contributed purchase monies may want to have their interest recognised so that they can seek to recover their monetary contribution.
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Client Complaints Solicitor
Dispute Resolution Department