Can a boundary dispute be resolved without professional help?

The first step in resolving a boundary dispute of any kind would be to approach your neighbour about your concerns. We advise you to always keep the conversation friendly. Often, parties can reach an agreement and resolve the issue without any formal proceedings.  

If that’s not possible, you should speak in the next instance to a specialist chartered surveyor.  

Do you need more than one boundary dispute surveyor?

In some situations, where the neighbouring parties have a good relationship, they may decide to jointly enlist the help of a single expert. This will reduce time and costs, and can also result in an outcome that both parties feel more comfortable with.  

In instances where the relationship between the two neighbours is less amicable, it may be necessary for each party to instruct an independent surveyor.  

What is the role of a surveyor(s) in boundary disputes with neighbours?

A surveyor will start the process by inspecting the boundary in person, assessing the situation and recording any useful information and features of the boundary. They will collate a range of evidence as to the exact legal location of the boundary and produce a report with their findings and their expert view on the boundary position.  

This report is often sufficient for both parties in the dispute to agree the correct boundary position, and to resolve the issue. 

What evidence is used for boundary dispute resolution?

In boundary disputes with neighbours, parties would often start with the Land Registry title plans. Unfortunately, this evidence is not sufficient to resolve a dispute as it does not state the precise legal boundary and instead shows the general boundary only.  

A chartered surveyor will use additional evidence to source their findings. These include the title plans, but also deeds, conveyance documents, historical maps, and aerial photos.  

How to settle boundary disputes without litigation  

It may be the case that, even after instructing an independent surveyor to assess the evidence and make a recommendation, it is not possible for parties to reach an agreement. At this stage, we recommend seeking legal advice, but there is still a way to avoid settling a boundary dispute out of court.  

The RICS recently announced a noticeable increase in boundary disputes since the beginning of the pandemic. Their new guidance emphasises the importance of avoiding litigation and instead using mediation as a form of dispute resolution.  

What is mediation in boundary wall dispute resolution?  

Mediation is an alternative to litigation in a boundary dispute resolution. It involves jointly selecting an independent expert to work with the parties to achieve a negotiated settlement. The result is not binding, but generally has a positive outcome for all parties, at a lot lower cost than going through the courts.  

Before taking any boundary dispute to court, it will usually be a requirement to have tried mediation first.  

Still have questions about boundary dispute resolution? 

Contact our measured survey team for more information. 

Geoff Kenney 
Head of Measured Surveys, Carter Jonas 
07788 362176 
geoff.kenney@carterjonas.co.uk

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Geoff Kenney
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Geoff is a Partner based in our Birmingham office and manages the measured survey capability across the UK. Geoff has almost 20 years of experience delivering measured survey projects in the property and infrastructure sectors. Geoff can advise on all aspects of measured survey including topographical surveys, boundary determination, structural monitoring and utility mapping.