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Long covid isn’t necessarily the only issue to have arisen during the pandemic, long running neighbour disputes have also found purchase amid repeated lockdowns and forced time in what can be close quarters for owners and occupiers. Sometimes we get lucky with a friendly neighbour on the other side of the fence, but sometimes there are those who would try to take advantage.

Most landowners do not give boundaries much thought, until problems arise or neighbours raise a dispute. Unless you are a surveyor or property lawyer the chances are that boundaries, Land Registry plans and sometimes illegible old deeds hold your interest only long enough to complete on your purchase of your property.

But perhaps armed with a little information and an understanding on the nature of boundaries and the relevance of the key documents most disputes might be avoided. Land Registry title plans do not show legal boundaries and therefore cannot necessarily be relied upon to prove their location. They might provide a good indication and sometimes that matches the legal boundary exactly, but often not. It’s usually more advisable to consider old deeds, often produced when a property is built and sold for the first time. It may also be necessary to consider whether the physical layout of the boundary has changed over time, for example has a fence or wall been moved. If so, it might mean that the legal boundary has also shifted. Or at least might allow your neighbour to argue that it has.

Boundary disputes can be complicated, take a considerable amount of time and can be very expensive if matters escalate to Court. They can also have a negative effect on the value of your property and sometimes render it unsellable. Seeking professional advice early on is key, and can save not only serious amounts of money but also serious amounts of heartache.