How do I resolve a Boundary Dispute with my neighbour?

The reason for a boundary dispute could be as serious as discovering that a portion of your property encroaches on an adjoining one, or as superficial as suspecting you’ve been mowing a portion of your neighbour’s lawn. Whether you’re buying, selling or renovating, enlisting the professional advice of a licensed surveyor will provide you with the clarity you need to minimise doubt and move forward in practical negotiations with your real estate agent, builder or neighbour.

When is conducting a boundary survey useful?

Whether a neighbour is disputing the placement of your pool, or the council demands you demolish your fence, having your biggest asset and its value threatened can cause distress. However, a land surveyor can act as a neutral authority in times of conflict and be relied upon to provide factual, unbiased information, whether it’s for a commercial property or your family home. Boundary surveys are essential in the following scenarios:

Before buying a property; a boundary survey will help you understand exactly what you are buying and identify any restrictions regarding property division (if that’s something you want to consider).

When looking to renovate, extend, build or change the title; land surveys provide information about where you’re allowed to erect a new construction and what restrictions will apply to you.

When selling a property; a cadastral survey will confirm the dimensions of the property so there are no nasty surprises for the buyer and avoid any potential misunderstandings.

If there is any doubt between yourself and your neighbour about where a property line starts and stops; instead of relying on an existing fence line or what a former owner has said, commissioning a formal survey with an experienced cadastral surveyor will provide you and your neighbour with confidence and transparency to have productive and amicable conversations about any changes you may want to make that might affect them. A boundary survey could be the cheapest and most effective insurance you can buy.

What is included in a boundary survey?

A boundary survey is undertaken by a licensed land professional who will determine the boundary line through a closely monitored and regularly audited system. Firstly, they will search LINZ’s cadastral survey records for historical evidence pertaining to the property. Then, a crew will search the site and explore the adjoining properties for further evidence if required. The boundary dimensions will be determined based on the information gathered from the LINZ database and fieldwork, and finally, the boundary will be physically marked on the lot. In addition to mapping the exact dimensions of the boundary line on a legal drawing, a boundary survey will also identify the following;

  • Any existing encroachments by fences, buildings or other improvements
  • Any existing easements which your property is subject to
  • Any discrepancies in the title deed or boundary line
  • Any proposed acts which may affect your land, or any other matters that may arise during the survey

Once complete, you’ll receive a professionally drawn legal plan containing the accurate and relevant information. If the survey identifies an encroachment, both parties affected would be notified as to the nature and extent of the violation. All the information, including the legal plan is then an official record, lodged within New Zealand’s cadastre.

What are my options to resolve an encroachment?

A disagreement between your boundary line can result in not only a stressful relationship with your neighbour, but a significant financial loss as well if you’re found to be encroaching on an adjoining property. When an encroachment is identified, the affected party is well within their rights to request that you demolish or absolve the issue at your expense. In the worst-case scenario, you could be unwillingly transferring ownership. Depending on the type of encroachment, it could be difficult and expensive to resolve. To avoid the possibility of any financially severe consequences, educate yourself on the precise dimensions of your most valuable asset, at your earliest convenience.

However, if you’re currently in a dispute, a professional surveyor can help. It’s important to note that just because an encroachment has been identified, doesn’t mean it has to be actioned (provided the affected party agrees to not do anything), though a licenced cadastral surveyor can advise you of the best course of action. Some common resolutions include:

The creation of an easement: This is where compensation may be paid to the landowner, who may also gain certain rights and access over the easement. If the landowners agree, they may realign the boundary without compensation.

A realignment of the boundary: A new boundary is formally surveyed and legally registered to clear the encroachment. A property valuer will advise on property values and recommend any amounts payable to the affected parties.

Not do anything: If the affected party agrees, the encroachment can be left as is. It’s important to remember that if no action is taken action now, you need to prepare to take action later – even though your current neighbour is happy, the next owner five years down the track may have their own concerns.

How much does a boundary survey cost?

The cost of a boundary survey can vary, but they’re usually the most standard and inexpensive, compared to other land surveys. The factors that will impact the final cost include the size of the lot, the type of terrain, and the reason for the survey.

For an obligation-free quote and a fast, practical resolution, get in touch with us at KW Consultants.

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