Couple forced to remortgage home after losing boundary dispute over SIX inches of land

Philip New, 52, and his wife Denise New, 47, are now covering the costs of a boundary dispute over ‘six inches’ going back to 2012 with neighbors at their property in Benfleet, Essex

Philip and Denise New have been left tens of thousands of pounds in debt in a decade-long legal battle with their ‘nightmare neighbours’

A couple was forced to remortgage their home after going into debt following a decade-long legal battle over six inches of land with their neighbors.

Philip New, 52, and his wife Denise New, 47, are now covering the costs of a boundary dispute going back to 2012 with neighbors at their property in Benfleet, Essex.

The neighbors argued that the fence was in the wrong place and should be further into the couple’s garden.

Phil said: “I wish I knew why they’re doing this. The amount of land they’ve been after at the absolute most has been roughly six inches, it’s minuscule.

This image shows the weeds and plants that Philp removed from the original fence in his garden


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He added: “We’ve had to re-mortgage because of the legal fees. We got suckered in because we thought we would win the case and then we didn’t and we didn’t have any choice but to appeal.

“So far it’s probably cost us in the region of about £25,000 to £30,000 and that’s without the final cost – if it goes really wrong it could be another £30,000 to £40,000.

“It’s driven us nuts and taken over our lives. We don’t seem to talk about anything except this. It’s a nightmare, it doesn’t go away, we live and breathe it.

This image shows a broken part of the original fence which runs behind Philip and Denise’s garage and summer house


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“They’re just selfish people who’ve gone through the whole process with nothing to lose, to gain something they’ve obviously never had on the property.”

Philip, Denise and their two children have lived in their three-bedroom home for 16 years and say the fence has always been in the same position.

They say they replaced the fence panels in 2010 but they used the original cement posts that they say have been there for about 50 years.

The feud started in 2012 and in 2015, they agreed to do mediation and have a land surveyor determine the boundary to resolve it.

This image shows the boundary line drawn up by a land surveyor at Philip’s request


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This image shows the double fence in Philip’s garden


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Philip claims the surveyor did an “extremely poor” job of determining the boundary line, saying they drew it in a position that would mean it would have to go directly over a drain system.

The sheet metal worker says his neighbors insisted on following the new boundary.

This would mean the neighbors would gain six inches at one end of the garden whilst simultaneously losing some land at the other end.

Philip said: “It went a bit quiet for about three years and then in 2018 we got a court summons for trespass, damages and the declaration of the boundary line.”

After receiving the court summons, the couple appeared at their first hearing in February 2021.

The couple was so desperate to end the feud that they conceded and forfeited more land than necessary by putting up a second fence and seeking an out of court settlement.

This is the drain that runs close to the original fence line


Kennedy News and Media)

Their neighbors were given some free legal representation due to receiving disability benefits and have defended their position claiming the couple are simply “very bad losers” who “can’t get it in their heads that they have lost”.

The unnamed neighbors said Phil and Denise were “the saddest people they’ve ever met in their life” and pointed out that multiple judges had found in their favour.

During the legal process, Philip claims their lawyer found that the surveyor who had carried out the job wasn’t a land surveyor but rather was a building surveyor.

The couple lost the case with the judge determining that the agreement was binding and ordering them to abide by the new boundary.

Philip and Denise then appealed the judgment saying the surveyor didn’t have any jurisdiction, which resulted in a hearing at the High Court just months later, in May 2021.

Their main point of appeal was that the surveyor didn’t have jurisdiction under the settlement agreement because he wasn’t a land surveyor as stipulated in the agreement.

But the original judge had ruled that the building surveyor was “suitably qualified” and didn’t contradict the agreement.

The appeal judge ultimately decided to dismiss the point and confirmed that both parties were bound by their settlement agreement and the surveyor report from 2015.

The judge also ruled that they weren’t permitted to appeal that judgement.

The unnamed couple says they too had been left in tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt as not all of their legal fees had been pro bono so they had had to take out loans with high-interest rates.

The neighbors said: “We’ve had this for 11 years. They’ve lost and they don’t like it, they’re very bad losers.

“They’re the saddest people I’ve ever met in all my life. He’s the one that keeps paying more.”

They explained that they had offered Philip and Denise a settlement to the dispute earlier but they did not take it because they are “too greedy”.

The neighbors said: “So you’re telling me three senior judges have got it wrong but Mr New has got it right? I don’t think so.

“This guy is facing a serious hefty bill, he should be dealing with the fence issue.

“He’s lost the case and he won’t give us our land back. He’s not entitled to put a fence up. We want our fence put back.”

“Six inches is a lot of lands and equally he has no right to take it.”

Philip and Denise have since launched a GoFundMe to help cover their extensive legal costs.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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