Property disputes are a type of legal dispute involving real estate. These disputes emerge from disagreements concerning property boundaries, responsibility for construction or damage repairs, blocked views, and rightful ownership.
These disputes can be stressful and complicated for everyone involved, usually requiring the help of solicitors or lawyers to resolve them. So we’ll equip you with the essential knowledge to navigate any future property dispute you may encounter.
Steps to Take When Dealing With a Property Dispute
Property disputes progress from amicable resolutions to mediations and lawsuits in increasing severity. These are the usual steps you’ll go through:
The first step to navigating any property dispute is recognising its nature and cause. While boundary disputes are easier to resolve, complex cases like real estate fraud may require more drastic measures.
You may be able to amicably resolve the property dispute if it involves a neighbouring property and the issue isn’t severe. Talk to your neighbour and try to reach a mutual understanding by comparing deeds or consulting a surveyor.
Homeowners associations and private mediators offer mediation services, where they, a neutral party, help the disputing parties to communicate and reach a mutually acceptable solution.
Pursuing mediation is cheaper and less stressful than going to court and likely won’t muddy the waters between the parties.
It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer specialising in property disputes if you can’t resolve your dispute informally or through mediation. They’ll review relevant documents and evidence to help you understand your rights and obligations and advise you on the best action.
You may have to file a lawsuit if your property dispute is complex or you’re dealing with a more stubborn individual. Going to court is lengthy, costly, stressful, and unpredictable. But, with enough evidence and witnesses, the court will ultimately decide the outcome of your dispute.
We recommend you consider the following if you’re dealing with a property dispute:
Pertinent evidence can strengthen your position in a dispute or a court proceeding. For example, in a case where you allege property damage caused by another party, having photographs of the property before and after the alleged damage is excellent.
Hiring professional surveyors or appraisers who can provide objective assessments and help you reach a fair resolution is best during complex property disputes.
Resolving a property dispute informally may be the best way to save yourself from the stress, expenses, and frustrations of court proceedings and mediation.
Discuss your concerns with the involved party and listen to their perspective. That way, you may find a middle ground or a mutually-favourable solution.
Research online or consult a lawyer who specialises in property disputes. This way, you’ll educate yourself on your rights and obligations, and they’ll assess the strength of your case and provide you with strategic advice to protect your interests.
Several individuals, associations, and governmental bodies can deal with property disputes. They include:
- Property Owners: The parties involved in the dispute can resolve the conflict through many negotiation techniques.
- Mediators: These neutral third parties can facilitate communication and help the parties find a middle ground.
- Attorneys: Property law attorneys or solicitors specialise in legal matters related to property disputes. They can provide legal guidance, assess your case’s strength, provide you with strategic advice, and represent you in court.
- Real Estate Agents: Real estate agents can sometimes solve property disputes related to transactional and contractual matters. They can provide guidance and mediate disputes between buyers and sellers.
- Homeowners Associations: HOAs may have specific rules, regulations, and procedures for resolving property disputes. If it occurs in a community governed by a homeowners association, you can follow established protocols to resolve it.
- Government Agencies: Government agencies such as local planning departments or housing authorities can become involved in property disputes to provide guidance or assistance and enforce regulations.
There are a few types of property disputes. We’ll categorise them for ease of understanding.
Commercial property disputes refer to conflicts over the ownership, use, or control of a property used for business purposes. These include offices, factories, shops, and more. Some common types of commercial property disputes include:
- Real Estate Fraud Disputes: Where a party intentionallymisleads another to get more money or desired resource out of a negotiation. For example, it’s fraud if a party falsely highlights a property’s high-income rental potential and prime location to boost its cost and then sells it to another party.
- Co-Owner Disputes: Where more than one person owns a property and they disagree on an issue. For example, if two individuals own a shop but disagree on whether they should sell or improve it.
- Breach of Contract Disputes: Where a party fails to fulfil their contractual obligations. For example, suppose a company highlights its warehouse as manufacturing-ready thanks to its equipment. In that case, the renting company can raise a breach of contract dispute if they don’t find the equipment to their satisfaction or if it’s missing.
Residential property disputes are related to conflicts that arise over a property used for living purposes: a house, an apartment, and the like. Common types of residential property disputes include:
- Boundary Disputes: These include conflicts among neighbouring property owners about demarcation or ownership of property lines. They frequently happen due to conflicting information and errors in interpretation. For example, if your neighbour builds a fence on your property, they can trigger a property dispute.
- Family Property Disputes: These include disagreements among family members regarding the ownership, management, or division of property assets. The most common type of family property disputes includes inheritance, co-ownership, and divorce property disputes.
- Performance Disputes: These include everything related to a party’s satisfaction with another’s duties, obligations, and expectations outlined in a contract and can encompass many contexts, from transactions to services. Missing elements, construction, and renovation disputes are good examples.
Finally, rental property disputes refer to conflicts between landlords and tenants. They’re usually about the terms and conditions of a lease agreement or a property rented for commercial or residential use. Common disputes in this category include:
- Eviction Disputes: These refer to the conflicts between tenant and landlord over the termination of the tenancy and the eviction process. It can occur for several reasons, including failure to pay rent and lease terms violation.
- Rent Arrear Disputes: These refer to disputes between landlord and tenant over unpaid rent. They occur when a tenant fails to pay rent within the agreed-upon timeframe or accumulates rent arrears.
- Maintenance and Repair Disputes: This type refers to disputes between a landlord and their tenant over the state of their living environment. They can occur when the rental property’s condition doesn’t meet the tenant’s expectations or when the landlord neglects proper property care routines.
- Security Deposit Disputes: Also called tenancy deposits, these disputes occur when disagreements regarding the deductions or return of the deposit occur between tenant and landlord.
We recommend you seek help with your property dispute when you realise you can’t solve it informally or it’s too complex to handle alone.
For example, if you’re facing a property lines issue, you could review documents and, through effective communication, reach a consensus. However, if you suspect you are involved in a complex dispute, it’s best to employ the help of a lawyer who can guide you and represent you in court.
You should seek legal advice when your dispute is too complex for you to navigate by yourself. This is sometimes the case for residential and rental disputes but almost always the case for commercial property disputes.
If your dispute involves minor disagreements, e.g. your neighbour encroaches on your property by building a fence, you likely can talk it over. However, more severe issues like fraud and co-ownership disputes may require legal advice.
Property disputes typically go to court when the parties involved can’t resolve informally or through mediation, and a party files a lawsuit.
You can deal with property disputes yourself if the dispute is minor. But you may need a professional if your situation is more complex or the other party threatens to take more drastic measures, e.g. taking you to court.
It’s difficult to give a price range for property disputes in the U.K. Minor disputes can cost up to a thousand pounds, but more severe issues, especially commercial ones, can cost hundreds of thousands.
Legal advice can be costly, depending on the complexity of your case. The cost of legal advice will also vary depending on the professional you consult. It may range from several hundred pounds to over a thousand.
While it’s difficult to give you a precise number, we can point you in the right direction if you’re budget-conscious: getting cheaper or free legal help.
It depends on the circumstances of your dispute, your jurisdiction, and any applicable laws or contractual agreements. But, generally, each party is responsible for covering its expenses. However, sometimes, a party may be required to cover the other party’s fees if a court finds it at fault.
Winning a dispute means the court ruled in your favour. Depending on the type of dispute, you may be eligible for financial compensation, transfer of ownership, injunctive relief, or contractual enforcement (obliging the other party to abide by their obligations).
The opposite happens if you lose a property dispute. If the court rules against you, you may have to compensate the other party, lose ownership rights, cease doing whatever caused the conflict, or be forced to abide by any contractual obligations.
You can appeal to the upper tribunal if dissatisfied with your property dispute’s outcome. You can learn more about this by clicking here.
In the U.K., property law deals with everything related to residential and commercial property and covers many specialist areas, including social housing, property finance, and more. It’s underpinned mainly by two pieces of legislation: the Law of Property Act 1925 and the Land Registration Act 2002.
Note that other acts also govern property law, and the two mentioned above have seen several amendments over time.
You should approach them strategically and proactively. Communicate effectively with all involved parties, review contracts and documentation, and seek mediation or legal assistance if the nature of your dispute requires it.
An ongoing dispute can complicate the sale of your property. You usually are required by law to disclose the conflict to the buyer, which could affect their interest and the property’s sale price. In this case, you may need to negotiate with them or seek professional advice.
Remember, your buyer can sue you for fraud if the dispute you intentionally concealed is consequential and frustrating enough.
Discussing the ongoing dispute and its implications with the seller before buying a property is best. It may affect the property’s intended use or involve financial responsibilities or liabilities. In other words, you’ll end up dealing with the dispute and its frustrations.
Other common property disputes in the U.K. also include:
They’re disputes arising from misrepresented conditions of or undisclosed defects in a bought property. The solutions include repairs, compensation, or legal action.
These are conflicts over the effect a tree or bush has on a neighbouring property, including blocking the view or sunlight or encroaching roots. Professional assessments are necessary.
They’re conflicts arising over the division of repair costs between two parties. Negotiation, mediation, and legal action can be necessary to resolve this dispute type.
Legal agreements or court intervention may be required in this type of dispute, where conflict is caused by the necessity of accessing a neighbour’s land to make repairs. Otherwise, you’d be trespassing.
These disputes arise when two parties disagree over the value of a property. Professional appraisals and expert opinions are necessary to resolve them.
Changes in or terminations of estate agents and their consequences cause these disputes. They lead to concerns over fees and contract terms, and service satisfaction. They require negotiation and legal intervention to resolve.
These disputes occur when there’s uncertainty or disagreement over the legal ownership structure (e.g., joint ownership, leasehold, freehold) arising when there is uncertainty or issues regarding the legal ownership structure of a property. Legal intervention is usually necessary.
While you can resolve some property disputes informally, the intervention of experts or legal entities may be necessary in more complex situations. Understanding your rights and obligations and learning what you must do when a conflict arises is the best way to protect yourself from them or come out as a winner.
And if you are in need of a certified property care and preservation company in Leeds, contact us today!