Causes of Boundary Disputes


There are a number of factors which may be at the root cause of a boundary dispute. There may be a legal argument as to whether adverse possession or certain legal presumptions may apply. It may also boil down to inadequate mapping to define the boundary position in the first place. While a professional Surveyor may be very helpful at the initial stages in giving his professional opinion as to where the boundary lies.

Developers' Scheme Map: Before a housing estate is constructed, it is necessary for the developer to submit a planning application, showing proposed position of houses, roads, fence lines, services etc. During the course of construction it is commonplace that the actual constructed position of fence lines may not match the proposed position of fence lines as per the planning application. However, it is common practice by some developers to submit the planning drawing as the scheme map for Land Registration purposes, which may not accurately represent the position of fence lines between neighbouring properties.

Public perception of Land Registry maps would suggest that the Land Registry inside face of the red line is the precise location of their boundary. This is a very logical assumption and the explanation to counter this understanding that the Land Registry map is only an index map, not showing extent of ownership or boundaries which understandably lacks logic to the lay person.

No Concept of Land Theft; In Irish Law there is no concept of land theft, your car may be stolen or even the topsoil may be stolen from your land, but there is no concept in Irish law of land being stolen. There also exists no deterrent to Squatters; a squatter may occupy land and after 12 years of uninterrupted occupation, may apply to legally register that land in his/her name. If the squatter fails in his attempt to become the rightful owner, then no punishment in the form of a fine or prison sentence given out to the squatter.

Greed; A new neighbour moves in next door, he notices that the actual fence position is closer to his house than his Land Registry filed plan shows. Instead of accepting the situation on the ground, which he was shown at the time of viewing prior to purchase, he lays claim to the land beyond his fence by writing to his next door neighbour through his solicitor, asking for the return of "his" land.

Caught for Space; A land owner that plans to build an extension, house or driveway on his land and discovers that there is a lack of space. This landowner may fabricate a pseudo boundary dispute just to gain the space to facilitate his development.

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