Whether you want to establish the boundaries of your property to understand how much of the land is yours, or you are trying to work out which boundary is your responsibility and which is a neighbour’s responsibility, boundaries can often be unclear and tricky to decipher.
Below, we examine some of the more common questions we receive on this subject.
What are the boundaries of my property?
Whilst the majority of properties in England and Wales have a Land Registry title, the Land Registry title plans will only show “general boundaries”. A boundary feature can be a fence, wall, hedge, ditch, piece of wire or even the edge of a driveway. The Land Registry title plans are based on large scale Ordinance Survey mapping and will presume a boundary lies in the centre of a physical boundary. I.e. if there is a hedge dividing your garden from your neighbour’s garden, then they will assume the boundary is right in the middle; even though this is not necessarily always the case.
In order to establish where the exact boundaries of a property are, you will need to gather as much information about the property as possible, which would include an examination of the earliest available deeds of your property and those adjoining it. These should contain a description and/or a scaled plan which will detail the extent of the property.
If the original deeds of a property are unavailable or unclear, then another option would be a Chartered Land Surveyor. The surveyor will inspect the site, plus any deeds, historical plans and aerial photographs in order to determine the boundaries. At the very least, if they are unable to conclusively show the extent of the boundaries, they can provide an independent third party opinion on the position.
If none of your investigations are conclusive then you could enter into a boundary agreement with your neighbour to determine the position. This will record where the boundary is between two properties and who is responsible for the maintenance of the boundary. The boundary agreement can then be registered against the Land Registry title.
It is recommended that you seek professional legal advice before finalising any boundary agreement.
Who is responsible for the boundary?
The best way to work out whose responsibility a boundary is, is to examine the original deeds to see if they contain an explanation as to who is responsible for that particular boundary.
For instance you may see what is referred to as a “T” mark on the plans. This is a small “T” written on a boundary to establish which property has responsibility for the boundary. The “T” will point towards the property that has the responsibility. It is extremely important to note however, that unless the “T” marks are defined within the deed itself then they have no legal effect and should not be relied upon.
If there is nothing in the deeds then custom may help. If your neighbour (or you) has historically maintained a boundary then they can be said to have taken responsibility for it.
Please note though that common beliefs such as the location of fence posts determining the responsibility for boundaries are just that and carry no legal weight.
How can I make my neighbour repair his fence?
The answer is, often you cannot. There is no general law requiring your neighbour to put up a fence between your properties, despite it being common practice now so you can’t enforce a neighbour to repair or replace a fence.
There may be solutions to the issue. The lack of fence could be deemed a nuisance and you could force action to be taken to repair or erect a fence to deal with the nuisance or you could take matters into your own hands and erect a new fence along the boundary.
However, each case is different and so we would recommend obtaining advice before taking any action.
If you would like further advice regarding your property’s boundaries then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Real Estate team by emailing Daniel.york@herrington-carmichael, calling 01276 686222 or visiting our website https://www.herrington-carmichael.com/.
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