Legal Q&A:can I claim back the land stolen by my neighbour?

I moved into my home a year ago and have only just realised that my neighbour has a garden fence that encroaches two feet past the adjoining wall into our garden – what can I do?

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Question: I have just realised my next-door neighbours have purloined a strip of my garden.

I only moved here a year ago and my garage adjoins theirs. At some stage they put up a back garden fence that encroaches two feet past the adjoining wall into our garden.

I would like to put a French door into the rear wall of my garage but as things stand, one of its doors would open on to their garden. What can I do?

Answer: When you were buying your home, on receipt of the contract pack your solicitors should have sent you a copy of the Land Registry title plan, to check that the boundaries on it matched the boundaries on the ground.

In their replies to the Property Information Form, the sellers should have indicated if any boundary feature had been moved in the last 20 years.

If the title plan indicates the fence is correctly sited, your seller may have sold or given the strip of land to your neighbour. If, however, the fence is in the wrong place, your neighbour could acquire the two-foot strip of land by adverse possession, depending on the circumstances — such as the length of time the fence has been in that position, and whether your seller objected to its positioning.

Boundary disputes can be difficult because boundaries shown on title plans are not usually definitive and other factors may need to be considered when ascertaining the true legal boundary.

Speak to your neighbours to see if the situation can be clarified or resolved, as neighbour disputes can be costly.

If your sellers provided incorrect information, that may amount to a misrepresentation.

What’s your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email  or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE.

We regret that questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a legal director in the private wealth group of Foot Anstey.Read more


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