Boundary disputes

Boundary disputes often begin with a minor disagreement, and unfortunately can often end with an expensive and distressing court case. Boundary disputes can be surprisingly complex and difficult to resolve without expert help.

A Chartered Surveyor will work on your behalf to resolve the disagreement fairly and calmly, avoiding a court case if at all possible.

What is a boundary?

A legal boundary is an invisible line, with no thickness, dividing two properties. The position of a legal boundary will be specified in the earliest conveyance deeds for the land. It could be specified both in writing and in the form of a plan. A physical feature such as a hedge, fence or wall is usually positioned along the line of the legal boundary. However, disputes can arise about the positioning of physical features or even the original description of the boundaries themselves.

Land Registry title plans

The Land Registry records the general position of boundaries on a ‘title plan’, using a large scale Ordnance Survey map. Land Registry records are an interpretation of the descriptions found in the earliest conveyance deeds available for each piece of land and can be extremely unreliable.

Often the boundaries defined in the conveyance deeds will not have been drawn up by a professional Chartered Surveyor and will contain inadequate descriptions of the land. Another problem could be that the map used by the Land Registry is not accurate enough to allow exact identification of boundaries. In fact, the Land Registry adds a ‘disclaimer’ to the bottom of each title plan indicating that they cannot be used as the authoritative source of boundary records.

Boundary disputes

An enormous array of disputes can arise due to the complexity of boundary records. Some of the most common disputes are:

  • New fences, hedges or walls, which might overlap a boundary
  • Extensions which overlap a boundary or block a pathway
  • Ownership of existing fences, hedges and walls, and the legal right to make changes to those features

Resolving the dispute

The first step you should take is to examine the boundary description written in the original conveyance deed. This may immediately resolve the issue, if the other party agrees that the description is accurate. If there is a concern regarding the accuracy of the description, and you cannot reach a compromise, you should seek the advice of a Chartered Surveyor as soon as possible.

A Chartered Surveyor will:

  • survey the land
  • check all deeds and any plans attached to those deeds
  • refer to historical documents and photographs
  • prepare any other technical data which may resolve the dispute
  • give advice on mediation and arbitration procedures which would avoid a court case
  • prepare a new plan once the boundary has been determined, for submission to the Land Registry

If you would like to discuss your plans and get a quote, contact us on 020 7175 1441 or use our contact form.