Are You Involved In A Boundary Dispute?

Resolving disputes regarding the boundary of properties is usually expensive and frustrating for those involved. Some of the most frequently asked questions regarding boundary disputes are discussed.

What is considered to be a boundary dispute?

People living or owning neighbouring properties may not agree about the boundary of their properties resulting in a boundary dispute. 

At times, the dispute becomes obvious when a wall, fence or building is constructed by either one of the parties in a place or area, and the other neighbour objects to the structure being built, claiming that it infringes on his boundary. 

Resolving boundary disputes before they become expensive legal problems is always the best idea.

How can a property owner win a boundary dispute?

Unless the boundary dispute is regarding an extremely valuable property, the expenses involved in resolving the dispute can become extremely high. The expenses incurred may not be reasonable compared to the land value. 

Hence to “win” the boundary dispute, the property owner should resolve the matter satisfactorily before the expenses involved start increasing rapidly. Hence both the parties involved in the dispute may have to compromise.

What is the best way to resolve a boundary dispute?

When there are boundary disputes, the neighbours involved are likely to have arguments. Experts claim that if the dispute continues for a longer period, each of the neighbours is likely to take a rigid stance and there will be more acrimony. Hence it is advisable to discuss the matter with the other party calmly and get the matter resolved amicably. 

If possible the matter should be discussed early, immediately after the dispute arises, to ensure that it does not become personal. Often property boundaries are not clear, so there may be misunderstandings. 

It is easier to find a solution which is acceptable to both neighbours if they avoid blaming each other in the initial stages of the dispute. 

How to determine the boundary line?

In most cases, the land sale documents are registered, so most property owners will check the title plans at the land registry in case of a dispute. 

Since the land registry plan does not usually define where the boundary of the property lies, the property owners will have to check the deeds prepared before registration of each property.

 It is recommended that both the property owners should examine the sets of deeds and also share their deeds with the neighbour. The property owners require the documents regarding the transfer of each land area. They should also try to find the document which divided the land areas by creating a boundary. 

The quality of the property documents will vary. In some cases, a complete description, detail drawing and plan is provided, while in other cases there is very less information.

It should be noted that the boundaries of a property can change if one owner adversely possessed the land. He should exclude all others and possess the land for a minimum period of ten years if the land is registered. 

However, property owners should be aware that laws have made it difficult for people to acquire land using the rule for adverse possession since 2003. People should get legal advice or check the information on the land registry website if they think that adverse possession is relevant.

An agreement between the previous owner can also alter the boundary. If the deeds do not have enough information to decide on the boundary line, the property owners may agree to appoint a chartered land surveyor jointly. 

The surveyor will check the features of the site and deeds available, and decide the exact location of the real boundary line. The property owners may decide to abide by the decision of the surveyor and resolve the dispute.


Paul Petersen