Frequently Asked Questions

My neighbour has put up a fence between our gardens. I think it is encroaching on my land. Can I do anything about it?

Disputes between neighbours can be stressful in light of the need to maintain ongoing relations and bearing in the mind to keeps costs from escalating.

The starting point for any property dispute over ownership is to refer to the title deeds and any plans. However, in the majority of cases boundaries are not clearly defined in the deeds. In this event you may need the assistance of an expert surveyor to help parties determine where the boundary lies.

The responsibility for maintaining any boundary fence will depend on where it lies, what the title deeds say, historically who has maintained and other factors.

If in doubt, you should seek specialist legal advice as soon as possible before you interfere with boundaries.

I am having works done which impact on the party wall with the neighbours. Is there anything I need to be aware of?

If you have instructed an architect then they should be able to identify if a party wall exists and whether the works are likely to impact the party wall. If so you will need to enter into a Party Wall Agreement (under the Party Wall etc Act 1996) with your adjoining neighbour. The Agreement should provide for a surveyor to inspect the property before the works and post completion of the works to identify any damage caused by your works to the party wall.

We can advise on the mechanic and enforcement of Party Wall agreements. In the appropriate circumstances we can also take injunction action and issue a claim for damages.

A developer has purchased the neighbouring land and is proposing to develop the land to include a high rise tower. I am afraid that it will block the light into my property. Is there anything I can do to stop this?

In the first instance you need to establish whether you have a ‘right to light’ which only applies to certain parts of your property. This can be affected by any changes/adaptations/renovations carried out to the property over the course of time.

You then need to assess how much the proposed development will affect the right of light into your property. This is a very complicated task usually undertaken by an expert surveyor.

If proceedings are necessary, the court has a number of options, which include the power to stop the development or to allow the development to proceed but provide damages in compensation.

I had use of a path owned by my neighbours to access my garage at the back of my garden. My neighbours have now put up a locked gate which has prevented me from accessing my garage. Can they do this?

The starting position is to check the title deeds for the two properties to see if there are any clauses or terms in the deeds which give you a right of way.

If a right of way does exist then you can take action to enforce your rights, which may include obtaining an injunction requiring your neighbour to remove the gate or provide you with access.

If no right of way was recorded in the title deeds, then you need to establish historical use of the path. Depending on how long you have owned your property, you may need to speak to previous owners of your property to establish how long your property has had the benefit of the path.

These can be very complicated matters and you should seek specialist advice as soon as possible.

I brought a property with a friend many years ago but they have moved out and not paid the mortgage. Can I just sell the property now?

If they are on the legal title you will need their consent or a court order (to confirm that they no longer have any beneficial) interest in the property. You should check to see if you have any evidence of any agreement that when they moved out they were giving up their share.

You should get them to come off the legal title in good time before you seek to sell in case this compromises on any deadlines.

I am a leaseholder of a flat and the tenants in the flat above me are always making a lot of noise. This has not been helped by the fact that the owner of the flat upstairs have put floorboards down.

First of all you need to check if the Lease requires the owner of the flat above to have sound insulation or specific flooring (such as carpets). You should keep a diary of the noise nuisance. You can complain to the freeholder as well as the owner, that there is a breach of your right to ‘quiet enjoyment’. You can also complain to Environmental Health if it is serious enough to become a ‘statutory nuisance’. If it is really bad then you can consider obtaining an injunction to stop the noise.

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