You’ve probably read newspaper articles about warring neighbours who’ve spent tens of thousands of pounds going to court over a 6 inch strip of land. Until now boundary disputes have been dealt with by the courts and the lack of a statutory framework means that costs often escalate to level well in excess of the value of the land that is being argued over. Fortunately, that may be about to change.
A Private Members Bill known as the Property Boundaries (Resolution of Disputes) Bill (PDF) had its first reading on 25th June 2012. It’s been withdrawn from the current session due to time pressures but is due to be reintroduced after the summer. The Bill is modelled on the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 in that it takes the dispute out of the hands of the squabbling neighbours to be dealt with by a practical tribunal of appointed surveyors.
The Bill is being sponsored by Charles Elphicke MP and has the support of both the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and The Pyramus & Thisbe Club. Members from both organisations have joined forces to form a Practitioners Advisory Group (PAG) and will offer their vast experience to those drafting the Bill.
The journey from Private Members Bill to Law can be an arduous one and will only be successful if it can gather support from the public (and their MPs) as it progresses. If this is a subject that you feel strongly about you might consider writing to your local MP and suggest that they support the Bill.
Personally I think it is long overdue and while I have avoided becoming involved in boundary disputes I would certainly be more open to the possibility if the disputes were resolved by surveyors rather than highly emotional owners.