Property boundaries can often be an area of dispute for many people. Physical boundaries are generally identified by a physical or visible marker such as a fence, wall, hedge, ditch or the edge of a driveway.
Land Registry title plans only show general boundaries to properties, they do not show precise boundaries. When properties are registered for the first time, the Land Registry uses the plans attached to the title deeds and the title plan they produce reflects what they conclude to be a reasonable interpretation of the land in the deeds in relation to the detail on Ordnance Survey mapping.
Title deeds may or may not refer to boundary responsibility. Sometimes deeds refer to ‘T’ marks on a plan to denote boundary responsibility. If the deeds are silent as to boundary responsibility, then they are likely to be “party” boundaries and maintained at the joint and equal expense of the respective owners.
It is possible for parties to come to a formal agreement about a boundary. Such an agreement can deal with the position of the legal boundary, or the maintenance of a boundary feature, or both. This can then be recorded in the Land Registry registers for the respective properties. The Land Registry will, however, still treat the boundary as a general boundary as they do not guarantee that the legal boundary is where the parties have identified it as being in the boundary agreement.
If the parties want to ensure that the exact line of the legal boundary is recorded, they should apply for a determined boundary. The Land Registry will require sufficient evidence to establish the exact boundary line. This is usually in the form of a report and determined boundary plan produced by an independent expert, such as a chartered surveyor. With the exact line having been identified, the Land Registry will then make it apparent from the registers that the boundary has been determined. The general position of the boundary will be marked on the title plan of each affected registered title, often with lettered points showing the extent of the boundary which is determined. The Land Registry will retain a filed copy of the determined boundary plan so that this can be referred to in order to identify the exact line.
When buying a property which is registered at the Land Registry, you should check that the Land Registry title plan provided accurately reflects the extent of the property you are purchasing.
If you want to change an existing boundary, such as replacing a fence or wall, we recommend you discuss this with your neighbour first to avoid any possible dispute.