Boundaries Q&A

Liz Bailey

Written by Liz Bailey, a Conveyancing Executive at Spire Solicitors LLP.

When you are buying a property it is always important to consider your property boundaries. Whilst this may not be top on the priority list, it could become essential in the future especially when a fence or wall needs repairing.

What is a boundary ?

A boundary is an imaginary legal line which divides the ownership of one piece of land from another.  It may or may not be marked by a physical feature such as a wall, hedge or fence and these will generally follow the line of a legal boundary.

How do you determine where the boundary is?

The subject of boundaries is one which arises regularly in conveyancing and will often need further investigation.  Most people assume that their boundary is where the physical features are and assume that a boundary runs down the centre of a hedge. However an enquiry can often reveal that the hedge is actually on one side of the boundary.

What is in the ‘deeds’ or on Land Registry?

Property owners or prospective owners expect that their deeds will tell them who owns and is responsible for boundaries. Newly built properties will generally contain declarations as to who is responsible for the boundaries; however older titles, more often than not, will not contain any boundary information. If plans are provided, they tend to be small and are only used for identification.  Although the title is also registered to Land Registry, the boundaries are “general” and do not show the exact position.

Why do boundary disputes arise?

Due to the difficulties in determining legal boundaries and the issues relating to plans, confusion may arise between neighbours, particularly when they don’t get on. The cost of trying to resolve any dispute often ends up being more than the value of the piece of land. If you and your neighbour can agree where the boundary line should be, you can produce a “boundary agreement”. This can then be noted against the Land Registry; however it still doesn’t guarantee the legal boundary. For this to be official, an application must be made to Land Registry to determine it.

If you are unsure about who owns a boundary and would like further information please contact our head office on 01603 677077.