There are several features that can define a boundary such as a fence, wall, hedge, or it can even be the edge of a driveway. Typically, these can be the cause of heated boundary disputes between neighbours. Since property is a long-term investment and boundary disputes can soon become costly, it is crucial to find a satisfactory solution promptly and prevent any tension escalating amongst neighbours. Therefore, when buying a property, it is important to have accurate information identifying the boundaries of the property and to establish which party is responsible for their maintenance.
A boundary dispute commonly surfaces between owners of neighbouring properties. For example, this could arise due to the fact that one of the property owners intends to put up a fence or construct an extension. Also, the responsibility for repairing the fence could cause a dispute over ownership of the boundary. Essentially, either of the neighbours could have a different understanding of where the boundary lies. Boundary disputes can be very expensive and time consuming and can have a negative effect on the value of the property. It is preferable therefore to try to resolve any disagreement amicably.
Steps to take to try to resolve a boundary dispute
- The Land Registry Title Plan of the relevant property provides a starting point. This can be downloaded by anyone from the Land Registry https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/land-registry at a cost of approximately £3. It is also helpful to obtain the historic Title Deeds to look at the description of the land within the deeds. It is essential to bear in mind that HM Land Registry title plans and Ordnance Survey information are subject to the ‘general boundary rule’ which means that the exact line of the boundary of the property will be left undetermined by the Land Registry unless an application is made for the exact boundary line to be fixed.
- The historic deeds may include any current, or former, boundary agreements relating to the land in question.
- It is always helpful to obtain additional external evidence – this could include site photographs, grounds investigation and additional Ordnance Survey plans.
- A chartered surveyor could be employed to visit the property, examine title plans, and give his opinion on the legal position of any boundaries.
- Finally, if boundary agreement can be reached, a Boundary Agreement between the parties is advisable as it will provide clarity going forward. If this is sought, it would be advisable to ask solicitor to prepare it.
If you need any advice in relation to the above please get in touch with our friendly Property team on 01904 6234903 and they will be happy to help you further.