Love thy neighbour?

Everybody wants good neighbours but sadly many of us have experienced issues with their properties that have damaged our neighbourly relationships. Here, Steve Dearden and Rebecca Antony from Knutsford-based solicitors Dellapina Law share their specialist knowledge.

An increasingly common problem affecting neighbours is boundary disputes.

This is quite a complex area of law, as boundary lines can often differ to Land Registry plans and will vary over time.

Most boundary disputes can be resolved by instructing an expert to examine all available plans and evidence to determine the correct boundary lines. This can often lead to the Courts, however, as all too often a Judge is required to make a final decision in favour of one party or the other.

Issues can also arise over party walls which separate buildings and boundaries of neighbours.

Rules and requirements governing maintenance and repair of these walls are often recorded in title deeds, but people can often be caught unawares.

A neighbour may be able to notify an adjoining property owner that they intend to carry out work on the wall, and agreement must be reached regarding time limits, compensation and protection for property.

Some neighbours may share amenities between their properties e.g. pipes and wires and so rights can be created allowing access over each other’s property. These can be contained in the legal documents but can also arise due to continuous and unchallenged use.

Disputes concerning payments for repair of amenities and access rights are a common problem and are often difficult to resolve outside the courts.

Litigation should always be seen as a last resort and many of these issues can be resolved through discussion between neighbours, or by mediation.

Mediation is an informal dispute settlement process run by a trained third party, called a mediator.

It is intended to bring two parties together to clear up misunderstandings, find out concerns, and reach a resolution. The process is entirely voluntary although both parties must agree to entering into the mediation process itself.

The mediator will meet with both parties and assist them in trying to identify the issues of concern and work with them to achieve a satisfactory resolution to those issues.

Once agreement has been reached this is usually encapsulated in a written agreement. It must be remembered that any resolution/agreement that is reached will not be legally enforceable although should the agreement be broken by one of the parties, and legal proceedings follow, the court will take cognisance of the fact that a mediation agreement has been reached and been breached by one of the parties.

If you have a dispute with a neighbour and want expert advice you can contact Steve Dearden or Rebecca Antony at Dellapina Law Solicitors on 01565 634100.

Rebecca Antony

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