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Ask James Mather Your Own Question
James Mather
James Mather,
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 22629
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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hi,i wonder if you can help with a boundery Q Our neighbour

Customer Question

hi,i wonder if you can help with a boundery Q
Our neighbour has a fence which he has put 1 foot into his side of the boundary line(this was done many years ago).
When we moved in we started to remove the old boundary fence,one because it was old and unattractive and two because nettles and ivy were entwined in it and making weeding very difficult to keep under control (which were also spending onto our land).
Our neighbour has complained that i have put a small trellis panel up onto his fence(our side) to help contain a beautiful clematis,on our land (which was here when we moved in and was growing all along the ground)...i do not mind removing the trellis from his fence although i think it is rather petty and a shame and am in the process of putting up a pergola in my garden to sort this problem out.However,there is this now strip of land between the exsisting boundary and my neighbours fence which he has no access to(unless he is in my garden),despite him owning it! despite me maintaining it as he can't....i just wondered if there is a bye-law that would suggest that it is reasonable to assume that if you choose to have erected a fence inside your boundary and it has been there for a long period of time...the strip of land between would eventually belong to the neighbour(me).
I would like to point out that i don't particularly want this piece of land and my intentions were only ever to make it easy to maintain.My neighbour has now sent us a solicitors letter stating that he may re-instate his complete fence and put it back on the boundary(i have no idea why he did not do this in the beginning).
I do not object to him doing this really...i do think it is a rather extreme decision,as the garden is over 100ft long but that would be his choice!
Are you able to give me any advice with regard to whom may own this strip of land now?
Many thanks,Sue
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your question here on Just answer. It is my pleasure to try and assist you with this today. Please bear with me if I need to ask for any further information from you in order for me to be able to advise you fully. My name is Law Denning and I am a practising solicitor. I have been an expert on this website in UK law since 2008. During that time, as you appreciate, I have answered thousands of questions from satisfied users on a variety of subjects.
Because we are all in practice with clients and court and other users, I might not always respond in minutes, particularly evenings and weekends. Please bear with me in that case. I will be online and off-line all day most weekdays and weekends.

How long has his fence been up?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi,i am not entirely sure but we have lived here for 2 years,i have the feeling that it was erected some time ago,long before we arrived 2011

Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.

Okay thank you let me ask some questions:

1 has the new fence been up for 10 years?

2 have you treated the land in between the old
fence and your fence as your own for the last 10 years. It appears not what I
do need to ask.

3 what exactly does the solicitor's letter say
and what prompted that?

I am off-line shortly until tomorrow but will
pick this up then. Thank you

Customer: replied 4 years ago.


I have asked another neighbour when the fence was erected and she said the fence was there when she moved in ,in 2008...this is all i know.

I have not treated the strip of land as as much as i have maintained it by weeding it/clearing it as,as i said the neighbour who 'owns' it cannot as it it on my side of his 6ft fence!We moved in in 2011.

The solicitors letter was prompted because i attached a clematis to his fence.The clematis is on my land,right by the boundary line and had grown over the years all along the ground,so i lifted it up and attached it to the back of his fence(our side),which meant it has gone over the 'said' strip of his land....i have since removed the plant and erected a pergola on my land and attached the climber to that......i just wondered, if after so many years of a fence being in one place,where my neighbour choose to put it,he may now have given up the right to call the strip his?and cause such a fuss!when he could have put it on the boundary in the first place!! thanks

Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.

you have used a piece of land and treated it as your own for 10 years or more
if registered at the land Registry to someone other than you (or 12 years if
unregistered) and you have done it without objection and without permission and
not in secret, you are entitled to apply to the land registry to have it
registered as yours under the doctrine of adverse possession.

Land Registry have produced a leaflet (actually it is a booklet) which is
available online and in hard copy (or at least, it used to be available in hard
copy). Here is the one on unregistered land

here is the one on registered land

apply to the land registry on form ADV1 along with supporting witness
statements and evidence of occupation. Unless you have independent witness
statements, it is extremely difficult to prove that you have occupied a piece
of land for 10/12 years unless, 10/12 years ago, you took something which would
prove that you were moving onto it. Independent statements from neighbours can
be extremely useful in this respect.

your application for adverse possession is going to be at all successful you
are going to have to come up with that evidence. The land registry will write
to the registered owner to see whether they have any objections which, of
course, they will have. It is worth me mentioning that they cannot simply
object because they do not like it. They can only object on the basis that you
have not occupied the land for the relevant period.

are not completely accurate with the fence issue. The fence issue helps to
prove that you have treated it as your own to the exclusion of all others and
not shared it with anyone but it is not essential in itself.

the neighbour objects and you haven't got absolute proof of occupation or they
come up with some kind of consent that was alleged to be given to you, the
matter would end up in front of the land tribunal. If this goes to a land
tribunal hearing and you lose that tribunal for any reason, you could face
legal costs of £10,000 payable to the developer. If you win on the other hand
you would get costs in your favour awarded against the developer. It depends
therefore on how much the land is worth to you and how valuable it is to you.

think it is one of those where you would just make the point rather than argue
it based upon the fact you have given

may have more money to argue over this and risk than you do but that decision
is yours now that you know the legal situation.

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