With pressures on living space increasing all the time, it is becoming more common for issues to arise between neighbouring landowners around ownership and use of their land. We are well placed to assist landowners who find themselves involved in such disputes.

Positioning the boundary

When you purchase a property you receive a copy of the Land Registry entries and title plan confirming your ownership of a parcel of land. You may be forgiven for thinking that the title plan defines the boundary of your property but unfortunately, establishing the legal boundary to a piece of land is not that simple. This will usually require

  • careful analysis of the available title documents
  • a consideration of the history of the physical layout of the land
  • the input of an expert land surveyor.

Ultimately, where the position of the boundary is disputed and becomes the subject of a court claim, it will be up to the court (or the relevant tribunal) to determine where it is. The outcome is rarely, if ever, certain, but we can help you to prepare your case to best advantage.

Adverse possession

In many instances where a boundary has been moved, the trespasser will seek to defend a court action by the wronged party by claiming adverse possession of (‘squatter’s rights over’) the land in question. The law relating to adverse possession is notoriously difficult and was further complicated by changes in 2003 that have introduced separate legal tests and procedures for registered and unregistered land. We can assist in making or defending a claim to adverse possession.

Claiming rights of way

Sometimes, if it is not possible to acquire land by adverse possession, it may be possible to claim a right of way (or other rights) over it by prescription. We have the expertise to assist with disputes concerning rights enjoyed or claimed by the owner of one piece of land over neighbouring land, whether the rights have been granted expressly, impliedly or by long user (20 years’ use as of right, i.e. without permission).

These sorts of dispute can appear in many different guises, for example

  • where a developer interferes with a neighbour’s right to light
  • a farmer puts a fence across an established right of way
  • a homeowner builds a driveway across a village green
  • vehicles are parked on neighbouring land for long periods.