Boundary disputes with neighbours

Boundaries separate your home and garden from your neighbours'. If you have a dispute with a neighbour about them, there are things you can do to resolve it.

Working out your boundaries

Physical structures such as a hedge or fence can mark the boundary. Sometimes they're different from the legal boundaries.

It’s important to work out what the legal boundaries are, as these will help you resolve a dispute.

Check your title deeds if you own your home

These are the legal documents that show the boundaries of the home.

If you’re not sure where your title deeds are, check with:

If your title deeds are unclear, you may need to get legal advice from a solicitor.

Find a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland website

Check your tenancy agreement if you’re a tenant

It should say where the boundaries of your home and garden are.

If it’s not clear, ask your landlord to check their title deeds and tell you where the boundaries are.

If you do not have a tenancy agreement, contact a Shelter Scotland adviser. They’ll check if you should have an agreement, and advise you on how to get one from your landlord.

If you share communal areas

Communal areas are the shared parts of the building that are outwith your home’s boundaries. They're sometimes called common areas or common parts.

This can include walls, stairways, a garden and the roof.

If your dispute is about repairs or maintenance, check our guidance on repairs in communal areas.

If you own your home and want to extend it

You must make sure any extension does not go outwith the legal boundaries in your title deeds.

Check what your title deeds say. They include your responsibilities, sometimes called burdens. They will say if you need your neighbours' permission to make alterations to your home.

You may need planning permission before extending your home.

Check mygov.scot for advice on getting planning permission

If you have a boundary dispute

When you deal with your neighbours, be friendly and approachable. Try to understand their perspective. This will help you reach a compromise.

If a neighbour does not respect the legal boundaries of your home, there are things you can do. Follow these steps to resolve a dispute.

Step 1: speak to the person

Only do this if you feel safe doing so. Never put yourself in danger by confronting someone.

If you do feel able to speak to the person, ask a trusted family member or friend to be with you for support. Try to reach a compromise that works for both of you.

Step 2: use a mediator

You can ask your neighbour to go to mediation. This is led by a mediator who is an independent professional. They’ll help you negotiate with your neighbour.

A decision made at mediation is not legally binding, but it can help you solve your problem.

Find a mediator on Scottish Mediation

Step 3: get legal advice

If you cannot reach an agreement with a neighbour, you might need to get legal advice from a solicitor. Choose one who specialises in neighbour disputes.

They’ll give you advice on what you can do and how to resolve your dispute. This could include taking legal action in court.

Find a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland website

Court action will cost money, and can become expensive. You may be eligible for free legal advice or legal aid to help with the costs of legal action.

Last updated: 17 March 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England