Our Neighbour Disputes Service (NDS) is designed to help neighbours resolve property disputes and maintain harmony without the need for intervention by the courts. It deals with often sensitive issues such as boundary disputes, ownership of land and relocating boundary markings (such as fences).
NDS focusses where differences of opinion clearly exist. Like any other dispute resolution procedure it requires co-operation of the parties, in that each must agree to use it.
The main benefits include:
The service falls into three stages, parties will aim to reach a settlement at each stage. However, if agreement cannot be reached they will move onto the next stage:
This involves the appointment of a chartered surveyor whose independence is assured. The surveyor is employed by both parties and RICS DRS will appoint him/her after making careful checks to ensure the surveyor has no personal or other interest in the outcome of the dispute. The surveyor will produce an expert evaluation, with brief reasons, in a written report. The evaluation will draw on written statements (if any) made by one or both parties, and an inspection of the disputed issue, if the surveyor feels it is required. The parties may settle at this stage, but if the dispute continues they can choose to move to stage two.
This is not intended to be full-blown mediation, although surveyors appointed under the NDS have been trained in conciliation techniques. The surveyor will act as a facilitator and attempt to achieve a settlement. Before any meeting is conducted, both parties will be invited to provide written statements giving their perspectives on the current position. The objective is to identify the different needs of the neighbours, and look at ways to break any deadlocks. If a compromise is not reached, and either party pursues a legal remedy in the courts, one or both may utilise stage three.
Stages one and two are intended to resolve disputes and prevent escalation to the courts. However, some matters may require referral to court. This stage is intended to help courts decide disputes and speed up the litigation process. The expert evaluation report, previously undertaken by the appointed surveyor, who is a professional in the field, can inform the court, reduce time spent on litigation, and help prevent the dispute escalating to higher courts.
One or more of the three stages can be used to resolve the dispute. The costs of using these stages are:
To apply for the appointment of dispute resolver, please complete and return the application form available for download on this page. There is an appointment fee of £240 including VAT.