Conflicting information at every turn...

Conflicting information at every turn...

Postby SaveTheElephant » Wed Oct 18, 2017 11:41 am

We have an neighbour who accused us of trying to steal her land after we cut back some weeds so that we could see to get out of our drive safely. The driveway 'borders' her land. She told us we need to identify where the boundary is and claimed that it’s where the hedge that runs along our drive grows to on our side(!) We therefore looked into it and were confident, as we’ve always suspected, that it should be considerably further back onto her land and that our drive should be significantly wider which would make our lives much easier getting in and out.

Our thoughts as to where the boundary should be are supported by, among other things;

• Old deeds that detail the route of the water main that runs down the middle of our drive yet, today, this pipe is under the boundary.
• There are physical features such as an old stone corner pillar at the end of the neighbour’s front wall where our drive came to in the past which is now buried in overgrowth.
• Measurements of Land Registry maps, OS maps and historical maps (yeah, I know…) which put the width of our drive exactly in line with the above-mentioned pillar.
• The neighbour’s land is much higher than ours up to the point at which our boundary should be and where this pillar is.
• Neighbours who’ve lived in the village for generations and who said they will sign a document, if needed, saying our drive should be wider.
There’s other evidence including the suggestion from historical say-so that the hedge along the drive was planted on what was ‘our’ land by previous occupants of our house but we thought we had enough to go on and asked a solicitor to either ask the neighbour to prove that she's right and, if she can't, to explain our evidence to the neighbour because she seems to have difficulty understanding us.

We were surprised when the solicitor said we don’t have a case and can't ask her to prove anything because all our evidence is circumstantial. He referred instead to a T mark on the boundary on an old conveyance plan which, he said, suggests the neighbour owns it. My [non-professional] understanding is that this doesn’t mean it’s in the right place nor that it the current hedge is necessarily on it. Also, don’t T marks indicate a responsibility for upkeep rather than ownership because a boundary is really an imaginary line? Anyway, these T marks are not mentioned anywhere else in the conveyance document which I also understand to mean that they’re therefore considered irrelevant by, say, the land registry. The solicitor claims otherwise but having looked into it, I found a site for some other barristers that contradicts him but which I'm not allowed to post here.

So, if the T marks are indeed irrelevant, the physical features and historical local knowledge are circumstantial, measurements don’t count (see this forum "Put the tape measure away") and legal professionals don’t agree on what’s what, how do we go about dealing with this situation?

Our drive is now narrow enough that we can’t drive down it without the parking sensors on both sides of the car going nuts, you can’t walk up it if there’s a car driving down it and as the parking problem worsens along the road that our drive is off, people park right on the edge which makes it impossible to see getting out and sometimes very difficult getting in. We don't want to cut back the hedging because the neighbour became confrontational when we just cut back some weeds at the entrance. A wider drive, as we believe it used to be, would solve all of our problems at the cost of some unused and overgrown hedging and weeds currently claimed by the neighbour.

We're at a loss as to what to do. Could anyone point me to a similar quandary if one exists that was successfully resolved or offer any method of settling this diplomatically with the neighbour as the solicitor doesn’t seem to be able to help and, having seen his estimate as to how much this would cost to fight, we don't want to go down that route because it would be much cheaper to buy a brand new 4x4 to drive over whatever grows over the drive!
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Re: Conflicting information at every turn...

Postby Collaborate » Wed Oct 18, 2017 12:36 pm

I can see why you're frustrated. Perhaps seek a second opinion? Does your solicitor deal with these cases all the time?
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Re: Conflicting information at every turn...

Postby Primed101 » Wed Oct 18, 2017 12:45 pm

Could you not cut back the hedge - or will the neighbour not allow that?
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Re: Conflicting information at every turn...

Postby MacadamB53 » Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:00 pm

Hi SaveTheElephant,

the mental hurdle you need to get over is that no matter how much you can show the drive once "was" wider, now it "is" narrower and nobody did anything about it for a considerable amount of time (I'm assuming this).

which means now it might be too late to convince a court that the land beyond the hedge isn't now owned by your neighbour even if the court agree it was once part of the property you now own.

kind regards, Mac
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Re: Conflicting information at every turn...

Postby arborlad » Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:19 pm

MacadamB53 wrote:Hi SaveTheElephant,

the mental hurdle you need to get over is that no matter how much you can show the drive once "was" wider, now it "is" narrower and nobody did anything about it for a considerable amount of time (I'm assuming this).

which means now it might be too late to convince a court that the land beyond the hedge isn't now owned by your neighbour even if the court agree it was once part of the property you now own.

kind regards, Mac




...........not correct!
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Re: Conflicting information at every turn...

Postby MacadamB53 » Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:52 pm

arborlad wrote:
MacadamB53 wrote:Hi SaveTheElephant,

the mental hurdle you need to get over is that no matter how much you can show the drive once "was" wider, now it "is" narrower and nobody did anything about it for a considerable amount of time (I'm assuming this).

which means now it might be too late to convince a court that the land beyond the hedge isn't now owned by your neighbour even if the court agree it was once part of the property you now own.

kind regards, Mac




...........not correct!
which means you think a court would agree the land beyond the hedge - that the neighbour has dealt with in the mistaken and reasonable belief it was part of his property - is owned by the OP despite the considerable passage of time? (I'm assuming this bit)

kind regards, Mac
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Re: Conflicting information at every turn...

Postby SaveTheElephant » Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:57 pm

Thank you all for the replies so far.

MacadamB53 wrote: it might be too late to convince a court that the land beyond the hedge isn't now owned by your neighbour even if the court agree it was once part of the property you now own.


I understand this point. Neither her nor us have lived in our respective houses for very long. Is there a typical time period beyond which something's considered to be the new status quo?

In terms of cutting the hedge back, I think I might photograph it before and after and just do it. If I photograph my car on it too hopefully she'll see reason but there's nothing to suggest she's particularly rational.

This issue seems to be an unknown quantity. We went into it thinking that actual physical evidence supported by deeds, plans, maps and history and backed up by locals would be taken as substantial proof but this was immediately discounted in favour of an ancient mark that may or may not, depending on who you talk to, indicate that she owns an imaginary line on a map that's not even considered accurate! We're going to have to find a very experienced boundary lawyer for a second opinion and get saving!
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Re: Conflicting information at every turn...

Postby MacadamB53 » Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:40 pm

Hi SaveTheElephant,

can I just check that I understand the layout...

there is a hedge dividing the two gardens and you claim you own a strip on the other side of it which, if correct, would mean you could remove the hedge and have a wider driveway?

how was the alleged discrepancy explained to you by the vendor when you were a prospective buyer?

I'm guessing they didn't tell you that the property included a strip of land beyond the hedge that would have appeared to belong to his neighbour?

kind regards, Mac
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Re: Conflicting information at every turn...

Postby arborlad » Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:05 pm

MacadamB53 wrote:
arborlad wrote:
MacadamB53 wrote:Hi SaveTheElephant,

the mental hurdle you need to get over is that no matter how much you can show the drive once "was" wider, now it "is" narrower and nobody did anything about it for a considerable amount of time (I'm assuming this).

which means now it might be too late to convince a court that the land beyond the hedge isn't now owned by your neighbour even if the court agree it was once part of the property you now own.

kind regards, Mac




...........not correct!
which means you think a court would agree the land beyond the hedge - that the neighbour has dealt with in the mistaken and reasonable belief it was part of his property - is owned by the OP despite the considerable passage of time? (I'm assuming this bit)

kind regards, Mac





Hedges grow - upwards and outwards. There is absolutely and positively no way a hedge owner can gain additional land by allowing the hedge to continue to grow outwards.
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Re: Conflicting information at every turn...

Postby jonahinoz » Wed Oct 18, 2017 4:24 pm

Hi Save the Elephant,

You are both recent purchasers of your relevant properties, so both properties are registered.

Get hold of a copy of the neighbours Land Register, and see if you have any rights to dig up her property to access your mains services ... which you say are under what she says is her hedge. I think that means that she can't stop you digging up "her" hedge. I suspect you will have yo give her notice ... just say you are going to dig up THE hedge next Wednesday. Of course, it's your hedge, but don't discuss ownership. Let her make the running, to prove it's hers. As I see it, you will have done nothing wrong.

Of course, I may be wrong, so let's see what others have to say. It would be useful if you found some evidence of your drive under the hedge.

Was your house built recently enough to have required planning Permission? If so would the PP have specified the width of road access/visibility splays?

Historical aerial photographs of your area? Somebody here may be able to suggest a source.

John W
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Re: Conflicting information at every turn...

Postby MacadamB53 » Wed Oct 18, 2017 5:03 pm

Hi arborlad,

I understand the point you're stressing, but is that relevant? unless I've misunderstood (and that seems ever more likely given your postings) it is the OP who is claiming they own land on the neighbour's side of the hedge...

kind regards, Mac
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Re: Conflicting information at every turn...

Postby SaveTheElephant » Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:59 am

Thank you for the input. This is very interesting. Here’s a few points for clarification which might shed some more light and an update on my own actions…

Mac, You’re absolutely right in your assessment of the layout and what we assume to be where.
All deeds are silent regarding the boundary but her side has the infernal T sign on the plan only. We bought from a probate sale and were not advised as to the ownership of the boundary but were told to consider boundary features to be 50/50 by our solicitor. This is fine but we’re still confident that the land the hedge is on is ours and that it extends beyond the hedge.

The house is too old for planning permission so there are no useful plans to refer to.

I cut the entire boundary right back yesterday so we can now get cars up and down the drive. This has gained substantial space. I imagine this will cause her to come and voice an opinion and/or make more accusations at which point we will invite her to demonstrate location and ownership of the boundary. If she can prove satisfactorily and legally that it is hers, she can have it. Otherwise, we will carry on as we are but I’m confident that she will discover it’s ours.

Ultimately it’s only a thin strip of land and, in time, we can possibly learn to let it go. For now though, a wider drive would be much better and safer for us but it just isn’t worth the stress and astronomical cost of trying to prove it. For now though, it seems wrong that we have to give up the land just because the neighbour is bloody-minded and because there’s no simple, cost effective way of having our solid, good evidence considered by someone with the authority to make a decision.
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Re: Conflicting information at every turn...

Postby Collaborate » Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:12 am

If I were you I'd go ahead and erect a fence your side of the boundary - where you think it is. Show her all your proof first and invite her to respond with her counter arguments. If she has nothing to say in response you are at some pint entitled to proceed without having recourse to the law.
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Re: Conflicting information at every turn...

Postby arborlad » Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:26 am

SaveTheElephant wrote:Thank you for the input. This is very interesting. Here’s a few points for clarification which might shed some more light and an update on my own actions…




Any chance of a sketch or title plan. With one contentious boundary feature already, it would be unwise to add a second.
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Re: Conflicting information at every turn...

Postby MacadamB53 » Thu Oct 19, 2017 10:03 am

Collaborate wrote:If I were you I'd go ahead and erect a fence your side of the boundary - where you think it is. Show her all your proof first and invite her to respond with her counter arguments. If she has nothing to say in response you are at some pint entitled to proceed without having recourse to the law.
Hi Collaborate,

the OP thinks the boundary is in the neighbour's garden.

are you seriously recommending they remove the hedge and erect a fence to enclose a strip of the neighbour's garden on their side - on the basis that the drain was plotted in the middle of the OP's drive on an old plan?!?!

kind regards, Mac
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