Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Can I establish the boundary between my property and my neighbours’ from scaling off the Registered Plan at the Land Registry?
A. No. The Land Registry only registers general boundaries and the boundaries are not precise. The red line on the plan (depending on the scale) equates to around 4ft in width and cannot be used to establish the precise boundary. You may need to get an expert report if this is an issue.
Q. I have a right of way across my neighbour’s land. They have now erected a gate which is locked but have offered me a key. Can I compel them to remove the gate and/or lock?
A. No. Your neighbour is entitled to secure their land as they wish and even if it is more difficult for you to exercise your right of way, this is not an obstruction and the Courts will not interfere. However, if it is impossible for you to exercise any rights you have, you may be able to obtain an injunction. It is a question of degrees.
Q. My neighbours have recently built an extension and I have now been advised that they should have served a Party Wall Act notice. They didn’t and I think they have built on my land. What can I do?
A. Unfortunately the Party Wall Etc Act 1996 contains no penalties for non-compliance and if the works are complete, the Act does not assist. If the extension is complete, it is unlikely, depending upon the extent of the possible trespass on your land, that the Courts will compel your neighbour to remove the extension, but you may be entitled to some compensation for the encroachment. It will depend upon how the trespass affects your use and occupation of your own property.
Q. I have received notice that my neighbour has obtained planning permission to build an extension and that the works fall within the provisions of the Party Wall Etc Act 1996. The neighbour has not served any Notice on me and I believe the works are about to start. What can I do?
A. You may be able to obtain an injunction to stop the works until your neighbours have complied with the Act or if there is clear evidence (from an expert) that the works are likely to cause damage to your property. However, you must act very quickly because if you do not apply for the injunction quickly and the works proceed, you may not be able to obtain the injunction later. Any delay can be fatal to your chances of obtaining an emergency injunction.
Q. My neighbour’s guttering is broken and water now cascades from their guttering onto my land. I have asked my neighbour to repair the guttering but they have done nothing. Can I take action to compel them to repair the guttering?
A. Yes. Your neighbours have created a legal nuisance and this would give rise to two possible remedies: an injunction to compel them to stop the water coming onto your land, and if the water has caused any damage to your property, you may be entitled to compensation (known as damages) for the cost of any required repairs.
Q. My neighbour’s tree has grown very large and the branches are hanging over my boundary. I have asked the neighbour to remove the branches but he refuses. Can I do anything?
A. The law states that you are entitled to remove anything which trespasses on your land PROVIDED you return what you remove to the owner. This includes tree branches. However, you cannot remove the branches if to do so would either fatally injure the tree or shrub or would de-stabilise it. Therefore with large trees, advice from a tree surgeon should be sought first. The cost of removing the branches could be claimed from the neighbour provided you advise the neighbour when the works will take place and provide an estimate and warn them that you will seek to recover the cost from them. This must be done in writing with a copy kept to produce to the Court. Any cuttings taken must be returned to the owner but should be put back on their land in an orderly fashion and not in way which will antagonise.
Q. My neighbour’s tree roots are damaging my property. Can I compel him to remove the tree and pay for the damage?
A. It may be possible to require the tree to be removed but the Courts have been instructed not to make orders compelling the removal of trees unless expert evidence states that this is the only way further damage can be prevented. Other measures such as root barriers may be more appropriate but this would have to be installed at the cost of your neighbour. Whether you can recover the cost of repairs will depend on when your neighbour became aware that the tree was causing damage. Your neighbour is not responsible for any damage caused before he should or could have been aware of the likelihood of damage.
Q. My neighbour has done some building works and I think he has caused damage to my property. I have spoken to him about this but he says I have to contact his builders and its not his problem. What are my options?
A. It depends on how the damage was caused. If the builders came onto your land and caused damage then your claim may be against them. If the damage was caused during the normal course of the works, then your neighbour is more likely to be responsible for the cost of repairs.
Q. I have experienced a number of water leaks from my neighbour’s property. I have spoken to my neighbour on each occasion and he keeps telling me that he has repaired the problem, but a few weeks later it happens again. What can I do?
A. You may be able to obtain an injunction to compel your neighbour to properly identify the cause of the leak and to repair it. You may be able to recover some of the cost of repairs although probably not the cost of repairing the damage which was caused on the first occasion of the leak.
Q. I have been using an accessway which runs from the road to the rear of my property where I park my car. I have looked at my Deeds but cannot find any right to do this and now the owner of the accessway has put up a barricade so I cannot get to my rear garden. Do I have any rights to continue to use the accessway?
A. You may have acquired rights by ‘long use’ even if there is nothing noted in your Deeds. If you believe you may have acquired rights, you must act quickly as any rights acquired could be lost if you do not take prompt action.