11 MILLION BOUNDARY DISPUTES

 

  • Over a fifth of UK homeowners have been involved in a boundary dispute with a neighbour
  • 6.6 million Brits have experienced boundary issues with a neighbour in the past year
  • The average space people argue over is just two per cent of the average garden
  • Three million Brits have sought the advice from a chartered surveyor for their boundary disputes

 

New research from Churchill Home Insurance1 reveals nearly 11 million people, almost a fifth of UK homeowners (23 per cent), have been involved in a property boundary issue with a neighbour. In the last 12 months alone, 6.6 million (14 per cent) homeowners have argued over boundaries of their property.

People have collectively contested an estimated 150 million ft2 of land, the equivalent of almost six square miles, or nearly 2,000 football pitches2. However, the average dispute usually concerns just 27.5ft2, a very small amount of land, the equivalent of just two per cent of the area of the median British garden3.

Over the past 12 months, the property types that have seen the highest proportion of residents involved in a land dispute were flats and bungalows (both 20 per cent), ahead of detached houses (17 per cent), semi-detached houses (16 per cent) and terraced houses (15 per cent).

A fifth (20 per cent) of neighbourhood disputes involve less than 10ft2 of land. These cases are most frequently seen in semi-detached houses, which account for a quarter (25 per cent) of these small area disputes. Smaller disputes are also very common in flats, with disputes between 10ft2 and 20ft2 most common in ground floor flats (22 per cent) and disputes over a slightly larger space, between 30ft2 and 40ft2, most common in basement flats (22 per cent). Larger disputes over an area of 100ft2 are commonly seen in detached (five per cent) and semi-detached houses (five per cent).

The boundary issues that cause the most arguments are due to the placement of a fence, wall, or hedge (31 per cent), a plant or tree (14 per cent), or access issues (13 per cent).

Table one: The reason for issues regarding property boundaries 

Most common property boundary issues

Percentage

Type of property most affected

Percentage

A fence, wall or hedge

31 per cent

Semi-detached houses

39 per cent

A plant or tree

14 per cent

Flats – basement

33 per cent

Access issues

13 per cent

Flats – ground floor

27 per cent

A patio, block paving or driveway

10 per cent

Detached house

14 per cent

An outbuilding or shed

9 per cent

Terraced house or flats – basement

12 per cent

Extension or renovation work

9 per cent

Semi-detached houses

10 per cent

Other

14 per cent

n/a

n/a

Source: Churchill Home Insurance, 2022

Sarah Khan, Head of Churchill home insurance, said: “Unfortunately, many people end up falling out with their neighbour over boundaries, whether that is over trespass caused by a tree, a fence, or an extension. While we would always advise that people try to speak to their neighbours to find a resolution to these problems, saving time, money, and relationships, this is not always possible. If householders are unable to come to an amicable resolution with their  neighbour, Churchill Home Insurance offers added optional Family Legal Protection, which gives access to a 24 hour legal advice helpline and covers up to £100,000 of legal costs6.”

When taking action regarding property boundaries, many seem able to find a resolution verbally (45 per cent). However, over three million Brits (six per cent) have sought advice from a chartered surveyor, with 29 per cent of disputes employing one to aid in their case, although the results are split as to whether they managed to resolve their dispute (52 per cent) or not (48 per cent).

One in 11 (nine per cent) disputes do end up going to court and successfully being resolved, with the same proportion (nine per cent) currently in the legal system awaiting resolution. The government advises those who are looking for help in resolving a disagreement over boundaries to use the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Helpline Scheme to get advice4.

One possible resolution is the creation of a ‘boundary agreement’ between the two parties, which records the boundary and who is responsible for maintaining it. Further research by Churchill reveals that over the past three years more than two thousand boundary agreement applications and 200 determined boundary applications have been made by homeowners across the UK5. However, of the 206 determined boundary applications made between 2019 and 2021, only 40 per cent were approved by the tribunal, suggesting that many of these applications are made without enough evidence to support the applicant’s case. With an application fee of £90, this means that nearly £7,500 has been wasted on unsuccessful applications since the start of 2019.

-       ENDS -

Notes to Editors

  1. Research conducted by Opinium among a nationally representative sample of 2,001 adults between 5th – 8th April 2022
  2. Calculation based on an average football pitch size of 76,854ft2 (105m x 68m) 1,948
  3. The median garden size in the UK in 2020 was 140 m2, or 1,507 ft2, according to “One in eight British households has no garden”, published by the ONS on 14th May 2020
  4. https://www.gov.uk/your-property-boundaries/boundary-agreement-neighbour
  5. Freedom of Information Act request made to HM Land Registry in January 2022 covering the period 2019-2021
  6. for new disputes that happen after you take out the cover

 

For further information please contact:

Claire Howell

Churchill PR Manager

Tel: 01651 832 095

Email: [email protected]

 

Samantha Stewart

Citigate Dewe Rogerson

Tel: 0207 025 6497

Email: [email protected]

 

Churchill

Founded in 1989, Churchill is now one of the UK's leading providers of general insurance, offering car, home, travel and pet insurance cover over the phone or on-line.

Churchill general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.  

Churchill and U K Insurance Limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.  

Customers can find out more about Churchill products or get a quote by calling 0300 200 300 or visiting www.churchill.com