Do you have differences in opinion regarding your property boundaries?
If so, you will be aware of the sometimes extreme levels of concern and not least stress that these situations can generate, notwithstanding the considerable amounts of time, energy and monetary cost that can be expended. Whilst professional advice is not always needed, acting at an early stage to help diffuse boundary matters can help to avoid potentially significant problems later on such as 'blighted' properties, excessive legal fees as well as general emotional fatigue.
What can we do to help?
Mark Duckworth is a RICS trained mediator and is experienced in dealing with such matters. Our approach is to help people achieve a timely resolution and to assist where at all possible based upon the evidence found. We pay particular regard to people as 'individuals', who may share particularly strong feelings. For this reason, listening and seeking to understand all perspectives as well as considering the facts on the ground are all carefully considered. Ultimately we seek to help facilitate a solution that works for all to resolve such disputes.
We provide boundary reports which primarily focus on the facts on the ground, and from what any and all legal documents reveal. Please note that a qualified surveyor, or lawyer, cannot determine a legal boundary; they can only offer opinions. However, it is within the gift of neighbouring property owners to agree on what is referred to as the 'general boundary' rule. This means that two respective land/property owners can decide and agree formally in writing upon the position of a given boundary, which can then be registered at the Land Registry (albeit as a general boundary and not as a defined legal boundary). Suffice to say that can often be sufficient to resolve a boundary irregularity.
More specifically our reports (normally) involve the following approach:
Firstly, scrutiny of any and all available conveyance documents, which ideally include original title deeds (these are always important regarding the hierarchy of evidence). From such documents we would seek to gather any pertinent clauses or details that indicate the most likely position/validity of the boundary.
Secondly, we would look on-site for 'extrinsic evidence', i.e. any physical details which would help us to place the boundary position.
Thirdly, we would arrange for an accurate scaled drawing of the boundary in question to be produced by a third party company (Martin & Mortimer do not produce scaled drawings) which we would endeavour to correlate with original plans within the title documents.
The above sources of information are carefully examined and conclusions drawn within a written boundary report.
More complex matters
We have experience of helping to resolve potentially more complex matters where neighbouring flat owners, i.e. leaseholders, have become embroiled in a dispute with either neighbouring leaseholders or freehold owners. For example, where damage has occurred due to leaks with resultant flooding, or where damage has occurred from adjoining or neighbouring building works. In some circumstances such matters may be beyond the scope of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, but will still require appropriate intervention.
With our combination of Party Wall, mediation, and, for example, damp and timber skills, we can provide independent assessments to help clients 'see the wood for the trees', and resolve what can be particularly difficult conflicts.
Examples include resolving a claim for damages from an upper floor leasehold property owner in Pimlico. This involved providing reports to indicate that the basement waterproofing had failed, in a situation where the insurance company initially refused to acknowledge liability. Another example is where damage occurred to an upper storey flat within a South-West London building which required remedial works due to inadequate structural works having been carried out to a ground floor apartment below.