Home > Resolving Issues > Boundary Disputes: Frequent Questions

Boundary Disputes: Frequent Questions

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 6 Oct 2023 | comments*Discuss
Neighbour Boundary Dispute Trees Fence

We often hear about boundary disputes between neighbours, and it’s a very contentious area which is often the subject of litigation.

What is a Boundary and How is it Defined?

A boundary between your property and your neighbours (or indeed council and common land) is usually set out in the earliest conveyance deed or transfer deed that refers to the land. If you own the house, you should have been given a copy of the deeds when you bought the property.

The deeds show the boundaries of the land that the person who sold the property to you was intending to sell. The description could be written into the deeds, or most usually described by a visual plan of the land.

Sometimes the plan and the wording of the deeds might differ, but this problem can usually be resolved. Reading the deeds and looking at the plan will give you an indication of which takes precedence, and if it’s not obvious, a solicitor can usually help.

If either the conveyance plan or the words in the deed are obviously inaccurate, this can cause problems, too. If you have any questions, a solicitor can usually help, although in some cases these cases have to be resolved in court.

Establishing Rights Over Hedges and Fences can often be the source of bad feeling between otherwise friendly neighbours.

Can I Paint my Neighbours Fence?

If you want to change anything about a fence that legally belongs to your neighbour, you should ask their permission first – even if you’re only painting or staining your side of the fence.

Your neighbour is perfectly within his or her rights to tell you that he doesn’t want you to paint the fence, even if in your opinion in sorely needs some tidying up. It could be classed as criminal damage if you were to carry on regardless.

Can I Force My Neighbour to repair a Damaged Fence?

Not usually, unless there is some kind of covenant on his property that forces the issue. If the state of his fence is bothering you or causing security issues, there is no reason why you shouldn’t erect a fence of your own next to it.

You could offer to pay for the repairs yourself, if the neighbour simply can’t afford the repairs. If you do this, be sure to put the offer in writing and say that fence is a gift which doesn’t affect the boundary position at all. Keep a copy of your letter with the title deeds, to avoid any boundary confusion in the future.

If you put your own fence up on your own land, you need to be careful not to damage any of your neighbour's property, and make sure it fits in with all the relevant planning permission and byelaws.

Overhanging Trees

Another contentious area between neighbours is the problem of overhanging trees and Ascertaining Your Rights. What seemed like an average sized tree when you moved in could become a nuisance if it grows tall enough to block out your light, and this could mean that you have problems with your own garden as well as reducing the light in the house. You can’t do much about it until the trees start to encroach onto your land, though.

What to Do About Nuisance Trees

If the branches or roots of your neighbour's trees are starting to encroach onto your own land, you are allowed to trim them back to your own boundary.

You don’t have to tell your neighbour that you’re doing this, although you do have to tell them if you need to gain Access To Their Land. Contrary to popular belief, you can also trim a tree that’s subject to a preservation order, although you should get permission from your local authority first.

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I have a hedge that is in my garden and my neighbours garden . For the last 20 years , he has cut his sode and ive cut mine . Last year , he cut his side really low and wanted me to cut my side low but I declined as i wanted privacy and to keep it the same height as the hedge all around my garden . He doesn’t like this and so now throws his side of the hedge clippings over the fence into my garden , onto my rockery and drive way , obstructing my drive and ruining my rockery display . Is he allowed to just throw everything onto my property or does he have to give it to me in a reasonable manner ? Thsnkyou
Ali - 6-Oct-23 @ 8:53 PM
My neighbour jet washes his back yard I stead of sweeping the water and rubbish into their drain they sweep it into my side of my house then goes into my garden he said his drain is to low and has acover on it so he has to brush it out into shared public walkway then all goes into my garden and flower beds. What can I do?
Jay - 16-Jun-23 @ 8:46 AM
Hi : The neighbour placed a fence panel next to the boundary fence on his side but it is leaning on and higher than the original fence , still within the allowed height . It is an eyesore and does not look nice . Does he have legal right to do so without my permission .
Samy - 13-Feb-23 @ 9:53 AM
My neighbourhas a device that knocked off &on my WiFi cloned my phone ,changed my passwords spread storiesto people encouragedneighboursto move boundariesput rats & mice in my hedge takes stones out of retaining wall tried to frighten me with loud noise At moment he has opened my letters & has cameras on my land I'm 65 with mental health issues When asked is he doing this he says noo that it's me I'm lost for answer
Cha - 1-Feb-23 @ 8:21 AM
My neighbourhas a device that knocked off &on my WiFi cloned my phone ,changed my passwords spread storiesto people encouragedneighboursto move boundariesput rats & mice in my hedge takes stones out of retaining wall tried to frighten me with loud noise At moment he has opened my letters & has cameras on my land I'm 65 with mental health issues When asked is he doing this he says noo that it's me I'm list for answer
Cha - 1-Feb-23 @ 8:20 AM
I own a flat that my daughter lives in, a few months ago some new neighbors moved in and said to my daughter “don’t park outside of my house” this road is a public highway so my daughter said she would park on the street wherever there is a space, in lockdown I moved back to the flat to stay with my daughter, one day the police called to say that there had been a complaint from a neighbour that my daughter had people living with her when it wasn’t allowed I informed the police that I owned the flat and at the time we couldlive there in a family bubble, this neighbour was also having people coming and going to her house, one day she came knocking on my door asking my daughter to move her car as she couldn’t park outside her house I informered her that I myself had lived there 33yrs and had not been able to park outside my house either in all that time as it is a public highway. One day my daughter came home and was getting things out of her boot when the neighbour in question came out and told my daughter to move and was verbally abusing her, my daughter ignored her and as she was walking away the neighbour called my daughter a slut so my daughter asked her what had she just called her the neighbour then pulled my daughter to the floor by her hair and was fighting her on the floor since then my daughter’s had 3 tyres slashed on her car, my daughter keeps informing the police but the never seem to do anything, my daughter works from home and is living in fear all the time, please could someone give us some information on how to deal with this situation.
Laci - 29-Jan-23 @ 1:17 PM
hi i have been sent a letter from my neighbours solicitor demanding a reply within 24 hours of receipt of a posted out letter regarding the boundry fence i have checked with the land registry and there is no matking on either side to whus fence it is my house was built by the same builders all be it at a latter date and did not add to the land registry who owns the fence so i assumed this would be jointly owned there is no mention of the boundry between the two properties regards john white
chalky - 26-Jan-23 @ 11:56 AM
Our neighbours have decided to dispute the boundary at the front of our house between us and them. We have lived here for 10 years, we had a very low picket fence put within our side of the grass our side of their drive 2 years ago, just to frame the house and make it look pretty, I've planted along our side of it, we've always looked after the grass and the previous owners who lived her 9 years arevthe same, the neighbours have never suggested it was their grass, they have a front garden their side of their driveway. They've just told us that the fence we had put up is on their land, and want us to move it. We asked them to prove where the boundary was if this was the case, we of course would move everything if correct. He has shown us a copy of a red outline on a drawing he says is his deeds, we have said that the red line is only an indication of where the property is ( which is what Land Registry have told us) so now we are at a stalemate position, I just don't know where we go from here. Is the land legally ours as its been tended bu the owners of our house for the last 19 years regardless of original ownership? How do we work out exactly where the property boundary is? We have applied for our deeds, but we are expecting the dubious red line picture similar to our neighbour. It seems so unfair that someone can do this completely out of the blue and leave us with an expensive mess to sort out (they just want the fence moving, they aren't interesting in paying to prove boundary) if anyone can help I'd be very grateful, I don't know where to go from here I want the problem to go away
Chicketyboo - 12-Jul-22 @ 5:22 PM
We have a very contentious neighbour who has erected metal fencing on our boundary. Which is an eyesore. Would anyone know the rules regarding this issue? Please. The neighbour is not approachable in any way. Thank you in anticipation. Jenny.
Jenny - 17-May-22 @ 10:10 AM
Ditto. We came home yesterday to find our neighbour painting our fence grey on his side. This fence was erected March 21 so wasn’t in bad state of repair. We asked him to stop he was abusive swearing and saying he would hit my husband. He said it’s my fence and I can do what I want. He is a bully. We already fell out over the annexe built in garden for step dad on PD. Local council said it was an outbuilding with toilet. It’s more than that. We think he is going to do the side fence next even though we asked him to stop. What can I do?
Suzy - 6-May-22 @ 12:27 PM
My neighbour has painted his side of my fence without asking my permission.We have tolerated many things from him since he moved in 5 months ago from noisy DIY early in the morning (5.50am the other day)/late at night to him telling me what alterations I need to make to my property to him complaining to the council about my recently built conservstory, so him painting the fence is the final straw that broke the camels back. Therefore,can you please advise me what action I can take agsinst him and how I go about it. Many thanks.
Burnso - 26-Sep-21 @ 9:05 PM
I have erected a new fence a 20 or so cm into my land (not by choice, just what the fence chap did). It consists of a 30cm gravel board and a 5ft fence panel. This fence forms the back fence of a neighbour’s property. The land on his side is 1 or 1.5 feet lower than my garden. He is demanding I remove the gravel board as the concrete is an eyesore and that the fence is too high from his point of view. The total structure from my side is 1.83cm (6ft). He also says that i need to re-erect the fence 20cm further back onto his land. Where do I stand?
Gabby - 19-Jul-21 @ 8:25 PM
Hi we have had a conservatory built. Our neighbour agreed to the party wall which is part of the conservatory wall although nothing in writing. Our neighbour now wants to build an extension but it has come to light the conservatory builders have built into our neighbours boundary. We were unaware of this until the neighbour is saying they want us to take it down otherwise they lose a lot of space. The company whom built our conservatory 3 years ago are now in liquidation ! Help what can we do?
Dee - 26-Jun-21 @ 7:59 PM
We recently purchased some land at the back of our property. Our garden is now the same length as our horrible, immature, condescending next door neighbour! A few years ago when the fence in between our gardens needed replacing, we contributed to the panels which covered our garden length and the neighbour had to purchase more because their's was longer. Now we have purchased this land, we want to paint the fences to match the rest of the garden. And as our garden is now the same length, the extra panels now become part of our boundary fence. Throughout the process of buying the land, which was a long, drawn out process, we did offer to give the neighbours money for the extra panels that were now part ours. But throughout the course of negotiating the purchase, the neighbours have been just plain awful! Being extremely difficult was an understatement! Basically behaving like a 5 year old and having tantrums at every opportunity. I am that annoyed with their behaviour and attitude over the past two years plus, I refuse to give them anything let alone money, that, to be honest, is for fence panels that are now 5 years old. Obviously, in the future, if the fence needs replacing then we would have to contribute. But in the meantime am I entitled to paint these panels on our side?
livingnexttotrolls - 21-Jun-21 @ 6:58 PM
Please can someone help. Me and my husband recently renovated our garden, costing us a lot of money. We brought a new fence panels which costed hundreds of pounds. Our neibourbour told us that they were going to paint their side of our fence (the side which faces their side). We said only if it's the same colour as what we're currently using and explained why. We explained that we don't want a different colour seaping through. Especially a darker colour to what we are using as it would be difficult to cover and we would have to replace the panels -ourselves. Despite explaining this, they have gone and painted it a darker colour anyway. What can I do about this.
Need advice - 15-May-21 @ 8:16 AM
Iv a gff in half house type.Secure council Tennant. Theres a lady upstairs private.She been there 11years.Iv been 2.4 yrs. She has her own access to her own garden around the building.But want to use my gate access to walk through.I don't want this.Now the council are suggesting to put a fence through my garden to loose part my gardenat council expense.To add land and value to her deeds.In a pandemic.This is ridiculous. Iv had to pay for a land Registry.Which states she only has access for emergency sewage and water. Its seems the council are notprotecting me a council Tennant.It seemsthey more for upstairs lady.She should be private sector. Please help me urgently.
Ted - 4-May-21 @ 5:52 PM
Hi Fenceworryer, Unless there was an an express condition in the title deeds for the house that requires you to maintain your side of the fence to your neighbour’s specifications (which would be very unusual), then there is absolutely no obligation under law for you to do what they’re asking. If you don’t have a copy of your title deeds, or having trouble understanding what they say, Citizen’s Advice or a lawyer would be able to easily check this for you. Hope this helps.
Legalbeagle - 24-Apr-21 @ 8:59 AM
Hi.My neighbour owns the boundary fence between ourn2 gardens.They have stated it is our responsibility to stain/paint the fence our side at our expense, and they have also stipulated the exact colour and make of paint we need to use. . Is this correct that it is our expense and we have to use the colour they want. Having sleepness nights worrying so any advice would be most welcome.
Fenceworry - 22-Apr-21 @ 9:15 PM
Our property (garage wall) extension was built within our boundary - not a boundary wall - our neighbours want to replace the wooden fence that attaches to our wall (previous neighbours) with a brick wall - permanent structure - we have said we are happy for them to cross the boundary across to the wall but not to build directly onto the wall - understand there is something you can insert between the walls. We never put a fence down between the properties - wish we had - they are now not talking to us.
Lyddy - 13-Apr-21 @ 8:16 PM
I have two sheds my nabour has the right of access to one of them on my land.i have no privacy. The sheds have a asbestos roof brick work rotten. Needs pulled down. My nabour has all his garden! I haven't I want to put a summer house and buy a new shed for my self.how do I get him out. He hasn'tpayed a penny for using it for free.i feel like a mug.can you help thanks sparky
Sparky - 12-Apr-21 @ 1:13 AM
Hi, really hoping someone can help. My neighbour has given me a tiny strip of land next to my garage and is happy to sign anything I need him to so that I can use it forever without any problems. I concreted it and fenced it off a long time ago as I have always maintained it and my neighbour was happy for me to do whatever I liked. We have drawn up an agreement that we have both signed but didn’t want the hassle and expense of solicitors. His daughter who will inherit the property is also happy with the situation. However I am worried what will happen in years to come after my neighbour has passed away and, for example, the daughter decides to sell eventually. Any understanding of where I stand would be gratefully received ??
Ashlea - 11-Mar-21 @ 5:53 PM
I live in a ex councilhouse and as I look down my garden from the front door on the left hand side is large overgrowing tree which is just over the fence and the trunk is pushing out the mesh fence and pushing up the earth next to my back door and there is a huge overgrown hawthorn hedge down the garden.The land belongs to a old farmer and I asked him about if he could cut the hedge and tree down as I worry incase a branch will break on my house but he said the boundaryis my responsibility even though the roots are in his field ,my daughter did a online land registry plan for me but didn't say which boundary was mine only the garden plan ,I dont want to take it to a solicitor as its costly business and I'm on a low budget but just wondered if anyone had any advice ,I havnt got the deeds as my excouncil house isnt paid yet.
Steph - 20-Jan-21 @ 6:22 PM
My neighbour has changed the fence line and put his fence up beyond his boundary.In doing so he has landlocked my garage. Is this allowed.The boundary wall was installed by the builder.The previous tenant installed a fence but went up his boundary wall.This new tenant has gone round his boundary wall and put two posts on my land.
lana - 2-Jan-21 @ 9:35 PM
I put up a fence which is withing our boundaries, everytime someone comes to the neighbours they come to my fence talk in their languages over my fence, shake it hold on to it I told them if they have a problem why can't they go to the council theyhave damaged our fence and wrote Out on it I am totally fedup with these people they built a shed we never bothered them we even let them use our garden and now they are so ungrateful for what they are doing to us
Don't careanymore - 6-Oct-20 @ 6:44 PM
Weve lived on our property for almost 17 years . we walked over the property showing where our property line was supposed to be . recent someone bought land that borders our land and now what we were told was our property boundaries are not. We have maintained a road through our woods to the northeast corner we thought was ours but new owners have put up no trespassing signs and destroyed the property cutting trees down there . they had their land surveyed and we had ours done as well. Is there any way to claim yhe land we have thought was ours for almost 17 years now. The land that borders ours in this dispute have been empty for 15 or 16 years now .
Jackie - 28-Sep-20 @ 6:11 PM
I bought my property 26 years ago...It was end of Terrace and was beside a college that was taken down 10 years later and houses were built on the side of my house and at the rear of my house...I have a huge dividing wall going up one side and a long the back of my property that was taken down and rebuilt...I have painted the wall for 26 years within my property. When they reconstructed the wall they put little slopes either side and a flat top on the wall. I have new neighbours and they have just painted their house and also the wall within their property and the slope at the top of the wall and also the flat top bit of the wall...some of the wall goes along their neighbours property too. which they didn't paint but that bit of wall goes along my property line..the whole wall is from the side of my house that follows along the back of my small yard...So when I paint the top flat bit of the wall I have to stop at their tiny Green bit and it will look odd..I have tried to explain this as best as I could..Help x
HappyDays - 28-Sep-20 @ 2:50 PM
we have a problem with our neighbour. Are they allowed to lean over the fence to paint our side of their fence
Dennis - 21-Sep-20 @ 10:12 PM
My garage wall looks onto my neighbours but is within my property line and not a boundary wall and also I own all the boundaries around my property-is it illegal for my neighbour to paint my wall and add plastic covering to my wooden eves-thanks Linda
Linda Grafton - 17-Sep-20 @ 10:06 AM
Put a fence up and the neighbour is saying it’s 5cm in her garden and wants it moved we never touched her garden hers was turfed ours was soil because Astro grass was being installed after fence went up she has waited until all work complete before complaining decking,slabs,Astro grass plus drainage
Bigdogg - 7-Sep-20 @ 9:47 PM
Since I can't get into the Next-door website (COVID related, likely) to ask for consent forms to paint our house, will the world come to an end if we can't get the approvals signed? Season is coming to an end soon, and we need to paint this year.
TJ - 4-Sep-20 @ 8:20 PM
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