Pushing Boundaries

  • Posted

Posted 20/11/2012

It is an issue that can lead to bitter arguments and high tempers. Knowing the precise boundary between properties can be very important in avoiding potentially costly disputes between neighbours – for example, over who is responsible for maintaining walls and fences, or how far one is entitled to extend a house.

To determine a boundary, the first place to look in properties which have been registered (as most these days have) is the title plan, which can be obtained from the Land Registry. This will show the extent of a property outlined in red. Contrary to popular belief, however, this is not conclusive as the plans only show ‘general boundaries’ and may be altered if the boundary can be shown to lay more accurately elsewhere.

Therefore, whether or not the land is registered, one may end up looking to the title deeds – initially the most recent conveyance of the property (before registration, if applicable), although it may well refer back to a previous conveyance. This will state the extent of land which was conveyed, often with reference to a plan and possibly describing the boundary more precisely in words. It may also show who owns or is responsible for maintaining any boundary features. If this is sufficiently clear to determine the precise position of the boundary, then it will be conclusive.

However, if the title deeds do not identify the boundary sufficiently clearly, it will have to be determined by reference to the physical features on the ground. Where the boundary line is still not clear then the most sensible course of action may be to agree a boundary with the neighbouring property owner. If this can be achieved then, in the interests of avoiding future disputes, the agreement should be documented, and this can be submitted to the Land Registry to be recorded on the register of title. In the event that a boundary cannot be agreed, then an application for determination of the boundary may lead to a decision by the Land Registry Adjudicator or the court.

Boundaries can be a very emotive topic and we have considerable experience in dealing with the most complex of disputes and agreeing documentation. Please contact us for individual advice.


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