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Buachaill
Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 13215
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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We may have a boundary dispute with neighnours, Southern

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We may have a boundary dispute with neighnours
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: Southern Englanf
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: (We would like this discussion to remain confidential and not be used as an example in your site) we haven’t started any dispute the question is can we dispute a boundary where a fence has been for approx 15 years or are we too late our neighbours haven’t been there for as long as 12 years and neither were the neighbours before but the ones before them we think changed the boundary line from the original line, where there is evidence in concrete, to another line nearer our house. There was no formal agreement in our deeds when this change was made although the 2 parties presumably discussed the change back then at the timeThe evidence of the original boundary fence has only recently been visible to us so we didn’t know the original boundary was in a different position until this year
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: can I ask about fees first please?

Hello, and thank you for your question. I am your Expert and I will provide the answer you require.

1. What is important is that you agree with your neighbours to get a Boundary Survey done by a professional chartered surveyor from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors so you can determine what is the correct line of the boundary. Basically, the legal position is that it doesn't matter where the line of the fence might have been in the past. All that is important is where the true boundary lies. This is because getting squatter's title or adverse possession to registered land was abolished in 2003, so you cannot claim ownership by the fence being in the wrong place. So, all you need to do now is to get a boundary survey done to establish the true boundary and move on from there, as this is the position the law leaves you in. Previous locations of the fence are irrelevant. Be aware that modern mapping measurement is done with Computer Aided Location devices which are exact to fractions of millimetres. So, you will get an exact line for the fence.

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you
Just to clarify, we have lived here for 15 years but the boundary was moved before our time.Did the 15 year rule apply in 2003? Does that mean that we could dispute the fence position if the boundary fence was moved as far back as 1988? Or does it mean it’s possible to dispute a change even further back in time? Our house was built in the 1920sWe are trying to find out when the fence moved by asking the Planning dept if there are details of old planning applications so it would be useful to know what the legal situation would be if the fence was moved a long time ago.Many thanks

3. There is no such thing as a 15 year rule. If you have wanted to establish squatter's title before 2003, you would need 11 years uninterrupted possession. However, no one can establish squatter's title here because they don't know whether they were squatting or not, because they don't know where the true boundary was, so they lack the necessary legal pre-requisite of an animus possidendi or intention to possess the land contrary to the true owner. So, talking about 15 year or 11 year rules is foolish. You should simply survey the boundary and get on with it and realise you cannot take advantage of any error that might have been made in this situation.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Just thinking this through, if our neighbours donr’t allow access to the surveyor I guess we are simply left with an unresolved issue, and any information the surveyor can take from site on our side, or by taking down parts of the (our)fence to take photographs. Strictly speaking I guess the surveyor shouldn’t then be able to use a measuring device placed through the fence on the neighbours side (but within what we believe to be the boundary)The problem then is we will have a plan which does not map the position of the neighbours house on it, or possibly parts of the original boundary. And ideally the final plan should include the boundary and both property walls so it can be added to both sets of deeds. Should we then not engage a surveyor unless both parties agree to accept the surveyors findings on a joint plan?If we find ourselves in that position I guess we engage a solicitor, but in your experience would you think this could be resolved should the other party dig their heels in and refuse to cooperate? Does this sort of situation rely on some give and take from both parties, or are precedents in law able to dictate some sort of resolution?Thanks for your help
Helen

4. Dear *****, you are seeing problems where none exist. Firstly, the modern Computer Aided Location devices don't require access to your neighbour's property to map the boundary. So, any questions about access are illusory. Secondly, whilst it would be preferable if both parties would jointly agree to a nominate surveyor to map the boundary, this does not have to be the case. If you survey the boundary, then you can put up the fence on the midpoint line of the boundary, no matter what your neighbour does or protests. You can simply rely upon the survey. Thirdly issues about "parts of the original boundary" are irrelevant as I made clear to you that the legal position is that these hold no weight. Finally, there is no need to engage a solicitor unless you want to strongarm your neighbour into accepting your boundary line and then only if there is a dispute. So, currently, you are seeing trouble which doesn't exist. Finally, most boundary disputes are mediated and decided by an agreed boundary survey. However, once one party does a survey, no other surveyor is going to reach a different result, if the survey is done properly. So, again you are seeing a problem which doesn't really arise. All precedents in cases of this nature are irrelevant before a properly done boundary survey.

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I did hav
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I did have one remaining question you mentioned that the 15 Year Rule applied until 2003, does this mean we can dispute the fence position if the fence was moved as far back as 1988? And no further? We hope that Planners May Eventually be able to give us a date for construction of a garage, after which the boundary fence was moved away from the boundary I know you feel we are looking for problems but this will be the decider as to how we can proceed. Thank you, Helen
15. I know of no such thing as a 15 year rule.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
You mentioned 11 years uninterrupted occupancy ending in 2003, so presumably if the fence moved before 1992 Then the boundary would be considered fixed due to squatters rights? And any further back it would not be possible for us to challenge the fence position?
Just trying to work out how the land lies legally.
If the Planners then tell us the garage was built earlier than 1992 then I presume we have to work with the fence where it is now.
Thanks
Helen

16. As I explained to you before, it is downright wrong and incorrect to view the boundaries as having been fixed because of squatter's rights just because a fence was in a certain place. So, this is an erroneous view because the law requires more than just inadvertent possession. So, as I keep repeating, you need to survey the boundary.