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Neighbour Disputes

Published on 4 April 2016 | Modified on 14 December 2022

Written by Stacey Bennett
Conveyancing Solicitors

After a hard day at work most people just want to enjoy their home in peace and quiet, unfortunately that does not always happen.

The specialist Litigation department at Poole Alcock Solicitors look at the potential problems and what you could do to protect your property.


A trespass is one party’s encroachment over a boundary line which separates two properties, in essence taking land. Sometimes it is difficult to assess whether or not a trespass has actually taken place because determining the extent of a trespass would usually involve obtaining the opinion of a Boundary Surveyor. It is easy to take use a tape measure yourself to get a rough figure, but when the dispute arises it is important to have objective evidence to support the claim.

Also the property’s title documents should be considered when assessing the extent of the trespass. This is because the title documents will usually contain measurements for the respective property. This allows the surveyor to see if the original fence was in the correct position in the first place. The benefit of doing this is that it provides the client with a clearer understanding of the extent of the trespass with more accurate measurements. This in turn helps the client to think whether or not the trespass is worth pursuing.

Many surveyors will offer their services to correspond on your behalf, which in some instances is helpful. However, this assistance can be limited and may not achieve the desired outcome. In trespass cases it is also worth noting that an individual has a common law right to abate a trespass. This means that you are entitled to remove a trespassing item from your property.

However, you should be aware that you are expected to return the item(s) to the owner. This is because the trespassing item still belongs to that person, and you will be liable for any damage that you cause to it or the value of the item if you keep it.

Rights of Way

A right of way is a right that one property has, which allows that owner to travel over a different piece of land, owned by somebody else.

A right of way can be granted by:

  • Express grant in a Deed (transfer documents).
  • Statute.
  • By a Will.
  • Implied grant (where somebody sells part of his/her land and it is implied that a right of way exists by necessity and common intention of the parties etc.).
  • By a contract.
  • By Prescription.
  • Proprietary estoppel.

Such a right is to the benefit of the property’s title, not to the physical building. If your property benefits from such a right of way and it is being restricted by the action, or lack of actions of someone else, the test is whether or not the respective right has been substantially interfered with. This test is dependent on the facts of the specific case. For instance can the person who benefits from the right of way make use of an alternative access way as conveniently as before?

It is always important to obtain objective advice so that you are able to understand what rights you/your property benefits from and whether or not it is cost-effective for you to pursue the matter.

Litigation specialist Andrew Roberts commented that:

“Understandably clients want to defend their home. Why should somebody adversely affect your enjoyment of your home? However, trying to defend your home may not quick and straight forward process. It is vital that homeowners obtain independent advice that protects their position. Sometimes doing nothing is the right thing to do”.

If you have a property dispute in relation to a boundary, the damage that may have been caused to your property, the blocking of a right of way or a different type of dispute relating to your home please feel to contact a member of Poole Alcock’s specialist Litigation department.

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