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The boundary between neighbouring blocks of land is the central to many neighbourhood disputes and legal relations. There are three general areas of dispute which can take the boundary as the starting point:

  • the position of the boundary;
  • people or things which cross the boundary without permission; and
  • things which exist on one side of the boundary and cause problems on the other side.

Any dispute about the position of the boundary between two blocks of land can usually be solved by having a survey done by a licensed surveyor. A registered surveyor will mark out the boundary on the ground or existing structures according to land title documents.

There are some situations where the survey will not satisfactorily settle the boundary problem but these situations are rare. For example, if a river or stream runs between two adjacent blocks of land, the centre of the stream is often the common boundary. In this case, it is possible for the boundary to change gradually if the stream cuts a new course over time.

A more difficult boundary problem can arise if the owner or occupier of one block occupies a part of the adjoining block for a considerable period of time. In this situation, adverse possession may arise. However, legislation has substantially changed the law in this area, it has never been tested before the court, and it is extremely difficult and technical to establish adverse possession. It is best to seek legal advice if seeking to establish adverse possession.

Legislation and enforcement bodies

Much of the legislative framework is contained within the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (Tas) and the seven Environmental Management and Pollution Control Regulations. These are administered by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), an office of the state government. Other acts which impact on the EPA are the Land Use, Planning and Approvals Act 1993 (Tas), and the Litter Act 2007 (Tas).

Remedies are available through the Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court, as well as through the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal.

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