Buckinghamshire Council (23 018 256)

Category : Environment and regulation > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 26 Mar 2024

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s alleged failure to use its enforcement powers regarding a boundary dispute. This is because we cannot investigate private boundary disputes; only the courts can decide responsibility for land boundaries.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complained the Council will not take enforcement action against a developer he has a dispute with who is encroaching on his boundary.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
  2. The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone could take the matter to court. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to go to court. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(c), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by Mr X and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. Mr X complained to the Council about several issues he was having with a development next to his land.
  2. The Council explained it could not investigate most of the issues raised as the complaint related to a civil matter. Mr X was unhappy with the Council’s response and referred the matter to us.
  3. The Ombudsman cannot determine boundaries or resolve disputes between private owners. It would be reasonable for Mr X to refer this matter to the courts.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint because we cannot investigate private boundary disputes; only the courts can decide responsibility for land boundaries.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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