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How to Avoid the Fallout of Boundary Disputes this Summer

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As temperatures rise on the approach to summer, the same can be true of tensions between neighbours, especially where boundaries are concerned. Christopher Burke, head of dispute & litigation at Pearson, explains.

Tree felling, hedge trimming and bringing in tradesmen to construct conservatories or carry out landscaping work as we strive to make the most of our outdoor space, all have the potential to trigger animosity between neighbours, which can escalate to litigation.

The issue can affect both residential and commercial properties, with disputes ranging from rights of way, overhanging trees, building work and access to a neighbour’s land for repairs on your own property.

Tips on how to avoid costly boundary disputes with your neighbours

To avoid costly disputes with neighbours, it’s worth following these simple steps:

  • The best way to avoid a negative response to your plans is to communicate on friendly terms before you take any action. Too often, people embark on work that can impact on neighbours, putting them on the defensive as they have not had advance warning. The resulting acrimonious feeling can quickly lead to legal action.
  • Be aware of your legal rights before starting any work. Check the deeds of your property before undertaking any repairs, modifications or building work that affects a boundary with a neighbour as you must be certain that you do have a legal right to make alterations.
  • You may also need to be aware of your neighbour’s rights under the Party Wall etc Act 1996 if you intend to carry out works in the proximity of a party wall or party fence. This is often a cause of disputes.
  • Even if you’re already in dispute with neighbours, it’s still not too late to avoid litigation. You may be able to discuss the matter to smooth the issue over and find a mutually acceptable solution. Mediation can often be the key to facilitating a successful outcome for all parties.
  • In the event that no agreement can be reached, even after mediation, it’s important that you consult a solicitor with specialist experience of boundary disputes. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on the legal position of your individual situation so that you can assess the likelihood of a positive outcome in court.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that even winning in court may not put an end to the situation. The long term outcome could be continued hostility between you and your neighbour, so think carefully about how pursuing a dispute could affect your family or your business.


For advice on boundary disputes, please contact Chris Burke on 0161 785 3500 or email

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

Written by Christopher Burke


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