It’s never good when you have issues with your neighbour. Living next door to someone that you are not getting along with can be a nightmare. This is why it’s a good idea to try and prevent problems from occurring in the first place. If you are intending to have a late night party, tell your neighbours about it beforehand; if you want to change the fence between your properties, have a discussion about it.
A common problem between neighbours is a dispute over property. This can happen if you feel that your neighbour has built a structure that encroaches onto your property. So, what should you do if this happens, and how can you prevent such disputes before they happen?
The importance of defining a property boundary
It’s usually a good idea to define the boundary between your property and that of your neighbour, when you first move in. First check if the boundary is already legally defined. It’s not good enough to just assume that the boundary is where the fence is currently positioned as this may not be the case. If the boundary has not been defined, then you should hire a construction surveyor to map out the boundary. Once this is done, it’s illegal for anyone to build across that boundary.
What you should do if a dispute happens
If you think that your neighbour has built across the boundary between your property and their property, it may be a good idea to discuss the issue with them in the first place. You should do this as soon as you can see that there may be a problem, and not leave the discussion until the structure is completed.
If you are not happy with the outcome of the discussion, you will need to take action. You first need to check whether the boundary has been legally defined. If this has not happened, you can request that your neighbour has this work carried out. If the structure which has been erected does encroach on your property, you can then take the matter to court. The judge may ask for the structure to be removed, they may award you compensation, or they may order that the boundary line is moved. Once this decision has been made, it must then be applied, according to the law.
You can see that it can be a lengthy process, if you want to resolve a property dispute with a neighbour. This is why defining the property boundary in the first place is a good idea. Doing so does not just protect you from your neighbour potentially building on your property, it also means that if you decide to build an extension to your property, you know that you are doing so legally. After all, the last thing you want is to be the cause of a dispute with your neighbour, because you commenced a building project before doing all of the necessary research.