The 7 year boundary rule is a little known rule in the UK, but it could make your life a lot easier. If you have a dispute with your neighbour about how much land your property is worth, the rule can help you make an informed decision and keep your property out of court. The seven year rule is the name of a section of the Planning and Development Act 2000, and if used properly can prevent your local council from enforcing the rights of your neighbour. The rule states that any person, whose land has been encroached on for a period of seven years or more, is in a legal limbo.
The rule is not limited to larger areas of land. For example, a fence or hedge that has been erected on your neighbour’s land can be considered a boundary line. It may also be the reason your neighbour refuses to cut back mature trees. As with most issues involving neighbours, it can be a frustrating and costly process. However, if you take the time to find out more about the rules, it can save you a lot of aggravation in the long run.
The best way to resolve a boundary dispute is to take a step back and look at the situation in a fresh light. You can do this by getting expert advice. This may involve hiring a solicitor. There are other resources you can access, such as historic deeds and plans at the Land Registry, which can help you better understand the legal boundaries of your land. It is also a good idea to consult a qualified surveyor or architect if you have any questions.
The 7 year boundary rule is a little more complicated than it sounds, and if you are not sure whether it applies to your case, a quick visit to your local authority is a good bet. HM Land Registry holds details of every registered parcel of land in the UK, which is a useful starting point if you are unsure. It will also help to check that the land is in a legal state of mind and is not currently in use.
The 7 year boundary rule is accompanied by other laws and statutes, such as the Hedge and Ditch rule and the 12 year rule. The former is a rule that a person can be considered an adverse possessor if they have held a piece of land for at least twelve years. The latter is a rule that the owners of a piece of land must examine it at intervals of at least 12 years in order to keep it in check. The rules are not always clear cut, but if you can prove your case in court, you could be entitled to a fair shake.
The other notable rule is that you should not take down your fence. As a private property owner, you can’t remove a fence without the permission of your neighbour. The Property Boundaries (Resolution of Disputes) Bill is a proposed Private Members’ Bill that will require an expert to determine the boundary of a piece of land before a court proceeding can commence. The bill is aimed at preventing lengthy court cases that can be a drag on a budget, and it was re-introduced to the House of Commons on 15 January 2020.
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