Complete row of townhouses with out of sync boundaries

Complete row of townhouses with out of sync boundaries

Postby SarahSue » Mon Apr 04, 2016 5:35 pm

My issue is rather unusual. I live in a townhouse and have recently been querying the boundary lines because they do not appear to tally with what would usually be boundary lines i.e. between windows say in adjoining terraced property or even the position of a down waterpipe which is equidistant between two terraced houses. In short, all the front driveways and gardens are out of syc, so the adjoining neighbours legally own part of their neighbour's front gardens or driveways. The house boundary and the front garden or driveway boundary are different. I have no idea why the original developers some 45 years ago set it out this way. This is now an issue because we need to know where we stand legally if a neighbour found this out and decided to claim this land as their own. Would we be obliged to do the same for our other neighbour who has inadvertently tarmacked what is legally our land? They too were in the dark about boundaries. I would add that I have checked my deeds and I am correct on the boundary lines and certain the gardens do not tally with the houses.
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Re: Complete row of townhouses with out of sync boundaries

Postby SarahSue » Wed Apr 06, 2016 2:27 pm

I have not yet got a comment on this so assume a very unusual problem.

I am hoping that because the front gardens have been laid out this way since the properties were built in 1970, that there is some law or rule that sounds the current boundary lines in the front gardens stand even if they are different to the actual house boundary. My front garden has been a garden since the house was first built and has not been altered. The original construction was down to a builder and not merely a person grabbing a bit of someone else's land. All the houses that have double driveway and no garden, there is a demarcation in the concrete separating both properties which again is out of sync to the house boundary suggesting that the layout was purposefully done that way.
I am wondering if it can ever be the case that a garden boundary is different to the house boundary and especially bearing in mind it has been that way for over 45 years.
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Re: Complete row of townhouses with out of sync boundaries

Postby Collaborate » Wed Apr 06, 2016 3:06 pm

Are there any fences on the boundaries?
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Re: Complete row of townhouses with out of sync boundaries

Postby SarahSue » Wed Apr 06, 2016 3:29 pm

There are no fences on the boundary of my property but other houses along the row do have hedges separating the terraced properties.
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Re: Complete row of townhouses with out of sync boundaries

Postby SarahSue » Wed Apr 06, 2016 3:31 pm

To clarify, half of my front drive is garden which overlaps the neighbour's boundary. The garden has been there since the property was built. If the neighbour were to try and claim part of that garden as his own, he would get about half a foot and he himself has hard driveway.
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Re: Complete row of townhouses with out of sync boundaries

Postby cleo5 » Wed Apr 06, 2016 4:48 pm

How old are the houses? Are they all in a line or stepped?
What did the conveyance show when you purchased your property? Did it show all the boundaries to your plot?
You can download the original planning application from your local council for a fee of around £25.00 This will show what the original drawings looked like.
Have any of the properties been sold since you moved in and if so were there any problems.

You could download your neighbour's title deed from the Land Registry for a small cost and then invite him/her in for coffee and show him the plan and point out he has tarmacked over a piece of what is your land. He may have no idea it was not his.
When buying a house a lot of small details pass unnoticed and these then might cause problems later on.
As to a neighbour trying to claim a piece of another's garden as his own he would need to fence it round and ensure no one else had access to it.
Since there are no fences none can do this.
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Re: Complete row of townhouses with out of sync boundaries

Postby SarahSue » Wed Apr 06, 2016 5:12 pm

The houses were built around 1969. The houses are all in line. We purchased the property around 25 years ago and nothing came up on the conveyancing. The property next door has changed hands at least four times in our time and no issues at all. I even spoke to my ex neighbour last week who sold last year and nothing was raised, no queries about boundaries.
Sitting down with our next door neighbour is not an option since we fell out over another issue so no dialogue at all there.
I am just puzzled as to why the front garden was originally built in such a way as not to be in line with the boundaries.
We now want to put a low fence up between the two properties and don't want this to cause further issues but a fence or some kind of hedge is essential for reasons I don't wish to go into. I would also add that the neighbour wont be out of pocket so to speak regarding land since he too has encroached (inadvertently) on his neighbour's land and their driveway too is out of sync with the boundary.
And he hasn't tarmacked over our land but our (nice) neighbour the other side has. That wont be an issue unless the not nice neighbour tries to claim part of our garden as his and then we may be obliged to follow suit in order that our front driveway and garden isn't smaller than the neighbouring ones.

Prior to our purchase of the house 25 years ago, there had only been one owner (indeed his name is mentioned on our deeds). So the garden has been there since the property was built. Can someone come along now and claim part of that as their own if the deeds show they legally own a strip of it and would it be enough to stop us erecting a low fence along it bearing in mind how long the garden has been there and that we thought it belonged totally to us?
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Re: Complete row of townhouses with out of sync boundaries

Postby Collaborate » Wed Apr 06, 2016 5:46 pm

Either the boundaries on the LR plan can be rectified (it is entirely possible that an old plan was submitted on first registration rather than a more up to date one), or you could do as you suggest and erect a small boundary feature to enclose the part that you've got from your neighbour. Then, after 12 years, you could try and claim adverse possession.

Make sure you retain evidence of how long you've excluded all others from that part of your frontage.
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Re: Complete row of townhouses with out of sync boundaries

Postby cleo5 » Wed Apr 06, 2016 6:07 pm

That's clearer now thanks.
I doubt someone could come along and claim the bit of garden you mention. He could try of course but unless it is fenced or enclosed all round and used only by the claimant then he'd have a job claiming it.
Yes I understand why the not nice neighbour is a worry but he may do nothing further and should he try then you can challenge it.

As for the nice neighbours make sure you use your bit of garden/drive that he has tarmacked over by walking over it or leaving a plant in pot on it then he will not have had sole use of it.
Nice neighbours might move. You need to hedge your bets.
I can't fathom why planners allow such daft arrangements over gardens/plots. Things should be clearly marked. Not everyone wants communal living.

Re the fence. Put your fence up and see what happens?

I too once lived for seven years in the end one of a row of new, terraced house built in 1967(ours were stepped) that were on the former garden of one large house they demolished. Our builder nailed fence posts to walls as boundaries and we each erected fences guided by those wall posts.
The front was small patch of grass and drives to be kept open plan. Within a few years all had fences and hedges. All of us lived in sea of mud and builders rubble for weeks after moving in and never a cross word between all 6 families ever. My original neighbour still lives there.
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Re: Complete row of townhouses with out of sync boundaries

Postby MacadamB53 » Wed Apr 06, 2016 10:02 pm

Hi sorra,

If the neighbour were to try and claim part of that garden as his own, he would get about half a foot

in other words, you believe there's a six inch kink in the boundary that isn't apparent when you look at the title plan?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Complete row of townhouses with out of sync boundaries

Postby SarahSue » Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:42 pm

Thank you for your responses.

Re adverse possession, I believe we had to be using the land as our own for 13 years prior to a change in law in 2003. We missed out on that by one year :( We had the house from 1992.

If we get the go-ahead from the local council we will erect a low fence and possibly raise it higher by the user of trellis but obviously we are fearful that said neighbour will claim we erected the fence on his land *should he become savvy to the fact that it is technically his land*. He IS currently in the dark. However, it may be risky to erect such fencing. He is a pretty unpleasant character and some kind of fencing between the two properties is essential. I have lovely neighbours on my other side who are totally unaware that technically these boundaries are wrong. If the status quo were to be maintained, all the houses will have the same amount of land and in theory no need for dispute. But said nasty neighbour has been lining his bins up in a way as to be in our faces. Hence the need for some fencing or coverage.
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Re: Complete row of townhouses with out of sync boundaries

Postby Collaborate » Thu Apr 07, 2016 7:51 am

What Mac is getting at is the fact that the LR plans are not very accurate due to their scale. From memory I think the line they are drawn with is at least 8 inches wide, so the plan must be read as a way of interpreting what you see on the ground. In the event of there being discord, the physical features are often more persuasive.
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Re: Complete row of townhouses with out of sync boundaries

Postby SarahSue » Thu Apr 07, 2016 8:14 am

Ah, I see (and thank you again for your responses).

Viewing the area on the ground and each individual property (and I have looked closely at all the houses) there is a definite demarcation line in the front drives which appears to divide each property and put the boundary where I thought it was originally i.e. flush with my front garden but still out of sync with the house. Some front drives have been tarmacked over and some people have new driveways but the original ones show that line running say from the edge of the next door neighbour's garage and not, as would usually be the case, a boundary being equi-distant between two front windows. Whoever originally build the houses very definitely made that look like the boundary line.

However, my sister who is a structural engineer has viewed the deeds (which do look vague) and thinks they show part of our garden is within the neighbour's boundary.

My issue now is, if we get the go-ahead from the council, do we risk erecting a low fence and if the neighbour objects would it be too convoluted/expensive for him to put forward a valid objection? The low fence would be along our already existing garden.
Last edited by SarahSue on Thu Apr 07, 2016 8:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Complete row of townhouses with out of sync boundaries

Postby Collaborate » Thu Apr 07, 2016 8:30 am

Why do you need permission from the council to erect a fence? You only need PP if it is more than 2m high (or 1m if it is adjacent to the highway).

As your problem neighbour has accepted the out of sync boundary by claiming the fullest extent of his land on the opposite side to you I'd say you're overthinking things and should just go ahead and build your fence. You need not give your neighbour notice provided your fencer doesn't need to encroach on their side of the boundary when doing the work.
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Re: Complete row of townhouses with out of sync boundaries

Postby SarahSue » Thu Apr 07, 2016 9:08 am

There are no existing fences between the row of townhouses and no fences between any of the terraced houses opposite, just low walls going as high as 5 bricks. That made me think there were certain rules individual to this estate. I wanted clarification that we can put up a low fence and build it up with trellis and have that confirmed before we begin the work. The only fencing between terraced properties I have seen in the entire estate is a very high trellis fence. There is fencing at the end of terrace houses but not the mid-terrace. I have checked my deeds and can see nothing regarding fencing but wanted clarification before starting bearing in mind there are no fences already up between terraced houses.
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