Neighbour Dispute but No Neighbours!!!

DUAL Asset has recently concluded a claim for a disputed access way in South London between two neighbours. As we all know for most people buying and owning a property is both their single biggest investment and also one of the most emotional things they do in their life. People expect their house to be their castle and anything that interferes with this causes stress and high emotions. In the past we have all read about people having cars parked inconsiderately or neighbours cutting down (or letting grow) trees particularly large fir trees or just inconsiderate noisy neighbours.

Often these cases, if badly managed, lead to dogged fights between the neighbours, large legal fees and sometimes people being forced to sell up and move altogether. Whilst many of these cases are not insurable with DUAL Asset, some matters can be covered with our policies.

One such example of this was a case in South London. The insured bought a property as a buy to let investment and as part of the purchase process, identified that there was a disputed driveway that ran along the side of property they were buying. The driveway had been used in excess of 10 years by the previous owner, to put a garden shed on and to use for parking cars. This was important to the insured as the property without parking would have been more difficult to let.

The insured took out a policy from DUAL Asset to cover the eventuality that the neighbour tried to in force any rights of the driveway and/or stop the insured from using it.

About a year after the insured bought the property, a person claiming to act for the neighbouring property moved onto the driveway and started to dig it up to lay utilities to a new annex that was being built at the back of their property. The insured contacted us to see what to do and we agreed that their solicitor should to the landlord next door to assert the insured’s rights. However when we looked at the title to the property next door it was held by a British Virgin Islands company and the forwarding address was a firm of solicitors who claimed not to be instructed anymore.

So DUAL Asset was left in the unusual position of having a neighbour dispute with no neighbour to reach a resolution with!!! We served notices on the adjoining properties and secured the access to the driveway so it could not be reached by the neighbour. We then agreed to move quickly to try and secure the insured’s position by firstly carrying out remedial works to the trenches dug by the immediate neighbour, so the driveway could be used for parking. We also managed to serve a notice threatening an injunction, on the person who had carried out the work (who we believed to be the landlord) and finally applied to land registry for adverse possession. The neighbour backed off in the end and caused no further incident and in the end we achieved adverse possession of the piece of driveway.

The insured was pleased with our approach and the resolution that we managed to achieve with the neighbour dispute, despite there being no neighbour to negotiate with…