Q: “Recently, my next-door neighbour decided to replace a rickety old fence which ran along the boundary between our front gardens. Previously, there had been fence posts and wooden fences which clearly marked where the boundaries of the front gardens lay. My neighbour demolished his front boundary fence to create an open drive, and we then demolished ours to build a wall. With the shared post gone it was difficult to judge where the post used to be, although we had planted a marker which has since disappeared.
“My neighbour has now built a nine-inch-thick wall to replace the fence between our gardens. The new wall obstructs a rainwater drain which serves our rainwater pipe and gutter on the side of our house which faces his property. Previously, this drain was clearly exposed on our side of the boundary fence and easily accessible from our side. How can we establish where the boundaries should be and on whose side of the boundary this drain should be?”
A: “The hardest-fought battles between neighbours are undoubtedly centred on boundary disputes. Over the years, many of these cases make the national press as incredulous judges question how relatively minor issues could have escalated out of all proportion as parties take up positions and will simply not back down regardless of the cost and time involved in going to court.
“In this particular case, the ideal solution would be to sit down with the neighbour and the respective Title plans of each house and try and resolve matters in a friendly and amicable manner. If this fails to achieve the desired result then I recommend use of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Neighbour Dispute Service. This can be used jointly by the parties or by one party alone.
“Upon receiving a completed application form and admin fee of £241 inc VAT, the RICS will appoint a suitably qualified expert who will make an ‘Expert Evaluation’. The cost of this is £1,500 plus VAT. Once such a determination has been made then hopefully the rights and wrongs of the case will be clear to all and appropriate remedial action taken either by agreement or if necessary by subsequent litigation through the courts.”
Peter L Coling of Kinleigh Folkard & HaywardAnswered by Peter L Coling, professional services director for London-based estate agent.