Boundary Disputes

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Boundary disputes are common but can be an expensive way to settle an argument so it is best to get advice from a surveyor before solicitors are involved.

How is ownership of boundaries defined 

The details of ownership of a registered title to land is held at the Government’s department called The Land Registry.

The word “boundary” has no special meaning in law but in land ownership it is understood in two ways:

The Physical Boundary:

The Land Registry Registered Title rarely, if ever, shows ownership of individual boundary structures; such as walls, fences and hedges. There may be some relevant information on the register where they have kept a copy of a deed that refers to a boundary declaration or agreement, or to the ownership and maintenance of boundaries. 

In some cases, it may be possible to ask neighbours and/or previous owners to give a statement on the matter.

The Legal Boundary:

A legal boundary deals with separating ownership of land.  It is an invisible line dividing one person’s land from another’s.  It does not have thickness or width and usually, but not always, falls somewhere in or along a physical boundary feature such as a wall, fence or hedge, however as previously stated the exact positions of the legal boundaries are almost never shown on registered title plans.

Plans deposited with the Land Registry

The mapping of the UK is the job of the Ordnance Survey and the Land Registry use the Ordnance Survey data to cross-reference and associate geography and this data forms the basis of all Land Registry title plans.

General explanation as to the methods of defining a boundary

The precise location of a boundary (less than 1 metre) is often difficult to define and the reasons for this are explained below:

Firstly, The Land Registry say title plans show only the ‘general’ position of boundaries and not their precise location. The boundary might form part of a physical boundary, but this is not always the case and physical boundaries can change for various reasons

Secondly, The scale of the title plans are between 1:1250 or 1:2500. This means that the red line no a 1:1250 basis measures 1 metre on the ground. Old title plans are often distorted in copying and this too can measure approximately 1 metre on the ground.

A survey of the site can often define the boundary but for this to be done some form of physical evidence has to exist. This can take the form of old photographs, old plans, old rotten fence posts still with the ground an obvious step-change in levels or fixed points that can be defined such as the corner of a building.

In general, for the boundary to be accepted through physical evidence is has to have been in continuous occupation and non-contentious dispute for a recordable period in excess of 12 years.

More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/your-property-boundaries

If you require help to define a boundary, please get a quote with the boundary quote form.

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