Disputes over Jersey property – boundaries
In practicality, boundaries are often not clear and over time changes can occur that mean boundaries move. Determining which boundary line is correct can become a source of conflict and lead to disputes between neighbours.
Boundary disputes are not uncommon and relate to an issue when two parties believe they have the right to a piece of land.
Common causes of boundary disputes include:
- encroaching onto another’s property
- breaching the customary law of relief
- trees or hedges growing onto another’s property
- arguments as to who has responsibility for repairs and or refusing to contribute
- refusing access to land for repairs and maintenance
What is meant by a boundary in property law?
A property boundary is simply a description of the area which divides one property from another. This boundary will be denoted by an invisible line, known as the boundary line. The boundary line is sometimes marked by fences, walls, hedges or trees, but it doesn’t have to be. Even where there is no visible or physical marker, the boundary line still exists and marks everything within the line as yours.
How is a boundary ascertained?
Jersey freehold property is passed by contract in the Royal Court. Unlike some jurisdictions we do not have a system of registered title (nor do we have deeds). Accordingly in order to ascertain your boundary it is necessary to refer directly to your contract of purchase. This contract will describe how your boundary is constituted. The boundaries of a Jersey property are described in the title contract. The contract will describe in its narrative the boundaries. These boundaries will either be measured by invisible lines taken from markers or from a description of walls, boundary stones and or physical enclosures.
Avoiding a boundary dispute
A boundary dispute that gets out of control can end up very expensive. You may find the only way to resolve the issue is Royal Court proceedings. To avoid an expensive boundary dispute talk to your neighbour. As a common courtesy talk to your neighbour and discuss what you intend to do. This can often avoid conflict.
When to seek legal advice?
Jersey property law dealing with boundary issues can be complicated. A cursory review of the contract may provide a layman with an indication of the boundary, but the customary law of Jersey relating to property law must also be factored in. This may have a bearing on the issue in question and can be an issue that needs to be considered. For example the fact that you have planning permission to build your extension does not necessarily mean you have the right to build up to your boundary as your land may be subject to a relief or building restriction. We would suggest that you seek Jersey law property advice before engagement to avoid costly issues.