Boundary wall - Deeds are silent

Puzzled
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Boundary wall - Deeds are silent

Post by Puzzled »

We have owned our property since 1997 and during this time, neighbouring properties have been sold several times. There is an old stone wall dividing our property and the neighbouring cottage, probably older than both houses. About 15 years ago part of the garden belonging to the neighbouring cottage was sold for development. A new house was built within the plot and at the time the builder and I tried to establish who owned the boundary wall. Both our Title Deeds and those of the new house were silent on the wall, so we took the pragmatic approach that the wall was a shared responsibility. Since that time, any minor repairs to our side of the boundary wall, we have been happy to do.

The new house changed hands for the third time around 18 months ago. Recently a 4 meter section of the wall collapsed into our garden. Originally I thought it could be repaired just on our side but having sought advice it appeared that both sides needed rebuilding, as the neighbours side had bulged out. At this point I approached the neighbours to ask them to contribute to the repair costs as that section of the wall needed rebuilding on both sides.

The neighbours said that when they bought the house the previous owners had told them that the wall belonged to us and therefore they had no responsibility for it. I explained that the Title Deeds were silent on the matter and we considered it to be a joint responsibility. However, I asked if they would check their Deeds and if there was something on there to indicate we owned the wall, we would respect that. After a few days I had a call from the wife, stating that they had spoken to their solicitor who had told them to go by the vendors information form completed at the point of sale. She stated that the previous owner had said on the form that they were responsible for the other boundary only, and went on to say “so I’m afraid it’s over to you, and we won’t be helping”. I tried to discuss it further, pointing out that along with the Title Deeds being silent, there was evidence that there used to be two barns built within their land right up to the boundary, with the back walls of the barns forming part of the boundary wall. Unfortunately she wasn’t prepared to discuss it further, stating that she didn’t want to keep repeating herself and it’s not their responsibility. I left it that if I managed to find out anything further, I would come back to them.

Having researched further and spoken to a surveyor for advice, I wrote to them saying that there was some evidence to suggest that the wall forming part of their pre-existing barns was in actual fact their wall as in such cases the boundary would often run down the outside facing wall of those buildings. However, as part of the wall was stone and mortar (where the buildings were) and part of the wall further down the garden was a dry stone wall, we proposed that the mortar wall was solely their responsibility and as a compromise the dry stone wall could be considered as joint responsibility. I delivered the letter by hand around 2 weeks ago.

In the meantime I have spoken to the owner of the original cottage too (who’s previously owned land the new house sits on) and asked when he bought the cottage 5 years ago if there was any indication on his deeds to say who owned the stone and mortar wall behind his house. He said that there wasn’t and he had assumed that he should maintain his side and the neighbour (our house) should maintain the other side; which was our original thought too.

To date we have had no response to our letter and wondering what the next step should be. Obviously, now the matter of who owns the wall is in dispute, the issue needs to be resolved for the benefit of all parties, especially as we’re planning to sell our house in the next couple of years.

Any advice or observations would be welcomed.
MacadamB53
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Re: Boundary wall - Deeds are silent

Post by MacadamB53 »

Hi Puzzled,

until evidence arises to rebut it, the agreement you made with the old owner stands - it straddles the boundary and is, therefore, shared.

you’re new neighbours may have a case against their vendor, but that’s not your concern.

can you imagine if it was otherwise, a purchaser could claim they owned the whole earth just because that’s what their vendor told them... :D

all that said, in your shoes I’d be looking to accept ownership of that land.

kind regards, Mac
cleo5
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Re: Boundary wall - Deeds are silent

Post by cleo5 »

I agree with mac.

Accept ownership and be done with it if you want it rebuilt.

Can you get something in writing from present neighbour who insists it is not his. / hers?
You only had a phone call. Something written down would maybe prove useful.


Am in a similar situation....but I just shove bits of slate in the holes my side.
Next doors land is built up quarry and several feet higher than mine .

Farmer whose land it was said ,when I asked him about whose was the wall, said "we' ll share it shall we? Lovely man. Much missed.

I think you might actually be able to find whose the wall was way back if you can trace old conveyances maybe through land registry or aerial. Photos but no point if neighbour denies ownership and says its yours.

Rebuild it and claim it and problem solved.
Depending on amount needing doing cost should not be too prohibitive.
Puzzled
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Re: Boundary wall - Deeds are silent

Post by Puzzled »

“You only had a phone call. Something written down would maybe prove useful.”

We have written a letter to them quoting information that I obtained through my research, which suggests that the wall is their boundary. It is quite a long wall, maybe 50 meters and total rebuilding costs could be substantial. Just the 4 meter section currently needing to be rebuilt is estimated to be around £2,500. Just because they say it is our wall does not make it so. We would be more than happy to share the cost/responsibility but don’t feel it fair that the total responsibility of this and any potential rebuilding costs fall on our shoulders just because the previous owners told them it was our wall. There is nothing written to say that is the case, and as I say there is some evidence to suggest it is not ours but actually theirs.
Puzzled
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Re: Boundary wall - Deeds are silent

Post by Puzzled »

cleo5 wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:22 pm
You only had a phone call. Something written down would maybe prove useful.
Just experimenting at replying to a particular comment...
Puzzled
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Re: Boundary wall - Deeds are silent

Post by Puzzled »

Aha, success! Afraid I’m not very technically minded :D
cleo5
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Re: Boundary wall - Deeds are silent

Post by cleo5 »

Congrats!
I can't do that.

£2,500 is. A bit steep but not too bad .Get t several quotes. Try a local stone hedger.

I know it seems a lot but it is a skill.
It would be best if you both agreed to share the wall and could split the cost but if neighbour refuses and you want it rebuilt then you have no option really.
MacadamB53
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Re: Boundary wall - Deeds are silent

Post by MacadamB53 »

Hi Puzzled,

information that I obtained through my research, which suggests that the wall is their boundary

sounds vague / hopeful rather than clear and decisive - in what way does it “suggest” the wall stands on their land?

kind regards, Mac
arborlad
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Re: Boundary wall - Deeds are silent

Post by arborlad »

...................this sounds familiar, is there another thread about it?

The wall is likely to have a substantial footprint, if there are uncertainties about ownership - you wont know where the limit of your land is.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people
Puzzled
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Re: Boundary wall - Deeds are silent

Post by Puzzled »

cleo5 wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:30 pm Congrats!
I can't do that.

£2,500 is. A bit steep but not too bad .Get t several quotes. Try a local stone hedger.

I know it seems a lot but it is a skill.
It would be best if you both agreed to share the wall and could split the cost but if neighbour refuses and you want it rebuilt then you have no option really.
I appreciate that it is a skill, and if necessary will pay to repair the wall on this occasion, but it is going forward that worries me. The neighbour when viewing the property apparently specifically asked the previous owner who owned the wall because, I guess, it is very long and very old. The previous owner wanted to sell their house so maybe thought it’s not a very attractive prospect to a potential buyer to have to repair/rebuild a long wall, or maybe they did believe it was our wall. However, the fact is that there is no mention of the ownership of the wall on any of our Title Register/Deeds. Therefore we don’t want to be ‘bullied’ into accepting ownership of something that could cost a substantial amount in the future. As already said, we perceived the wall to be the joint responsibility of both properties and were happy with that. Now they’re categorically saying that it is nothing to do with them. Well if our deeds say it’s nothing to do with us who is responsible. In such a case it’s seems sensible and reasonable to look after it between the properties who benefit from the wall.

The original chap I had out to look at the wall did in fact speak with the neighbour about us repairing it on our side and said the neighbour was absolutely fine about it but as soon as we discovered that actually it needs repairing on both sides, and you mention money, it becomes a game changer.
Puzzled
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Joined: Mon Sep 26, 2005 5:55 pm

Re: Boundary wall - Deeds are silent

Post by Puzzled »

MacadamB53 wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:47 am Hi Puzzled,

information that I obtained through my research, which suggests that the wall is their boundary

sounds vague / hopeful rather than clear and decisive - in what way does it “suggest” the wall stands on their land?

kind regards, Mac

Hi Mac,

Unfortunately it seems there is very rarely “clear and decisive” information when dealing with property disputes. I say there is a suggestion that the wall stands entirely on their land because the physical and photographic evidence points to that. The physical evidence is that there still remains traces of an outbuilding abutting the wall on their side. There is also an aerial photograph from the 60’s showing two barns built on the other side of the wall with the back walls of those bans forming part of the boundary wall. Looking at information from RICS websites and Boundary websites, in such cases it is usual that the boundary runs down the outside facing edge of such a house or building that is built right up to the boundary.

I have included this information in my letter to the neighbours, but they are choosing to not respond or ignore us. Unfortunately now the ownership of the wall is in dispute, the matter can no longer be ignored. Hence my question of what do we do next? Other than being forced to accept ownership of something that we feel is not our responsibility.
Puzzled
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Re: Boundary wall - Deeds are silent

Post by Puzzled »

arborlad wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 9:39 am ...................this sounds familiar, is there another thread about it?

The wall is likely to have a substantial footprint, if there are uncertainties about ownership - you wont know where the limit of your land is.

Hi Arborlad,

I think I have read this other thread but there they are talking about where the boundary sits, if I remember rightly. Our issue is neither property’s Deeds sets out who owns the wall, and therefore who is or isn’t responsible responsible for the upkeep.
arborlad
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Re: Boundary wall - Deeds are silent

Post by arborlad »

arborlad wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 9:39 am ...................this sounds familiar, is there another thread about it?



I meant a thread of yours.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people
Puzzled
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Re: Boundary wall - Deeds are silent

Post by Puzzled »

No, not mine 👍
cleo5
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Re: Boundary wall - Deeds are silent

Post by cleo5 »

Can you get hold of old conveyances of either your property or next door?

I think you can do this do this through land registry.
How farback do your own deeds go?.
Are there any old T marks against the wall on any of the conveyance plans?

Does next door own the boundary on his other side?
If so then it would seem you own the wall....possibly!and former owners of next door built against it.
How wide is the wall?

Was it just an old farm field wall.Is there a bank of once heaped earth against any part of it your side?
Can you just patch up the wall yourself. It is not so hard just takes time i and just do your side.

A buyer wont be put off by a crumbling stone wall.
If he wants to buy it he will.

What you are seeing as a disaster can be managed.

You could get a little bit done as and when you can afford it and do some yourself .

If neighbours land is level with yours then it doesnt really matter if there are gaps unless you have animals.
To have it all done would be prohibitive but a bit at a time is manageable.
You can do nothing about nasty neighbour
Just dont let him get you down.
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