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Ask The Legal Expert: Where Is The Location Of My Boundaries?

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In this week’s Ask The Legal Expert blog, we get the latest specialist advice from our Property team:

Where will I find information about the precise location of my boundaries?

Newspapers sometime report on acrimonious neighbour disputes arising out of issues relating to the ownership and maintenance of boundary structures.  The starting point must be to consider the Land Registry’s title plan.  The title plan will show the boundaries edged in red but often to a small scale.

Disagreement may be caused by a disparity between the legal boundaries and the physical boundaries on the ground.  It is strange to think that a legal boundary will have no actual thickness to it:  a legal boundary is simply the place where properties owned by neighbours adjoin.  A legal boundary, then, is more subtle than say the thickness of a fence, wall or hedge.  Depending on the circumstances, there are some legal inferences and presumptions which may apply and help determine whether the precise legal boundary is in the middle of a boundary structure or on one side of it.

If still available any old title deeds may include plans, although you may find them drawn to a poor quality.  Although based on OS maps, the Land Registry’s title plans are subject to its general boundaries rule which allows for a margin of error.   It is possible that the register will make reference to provisions taken from the pre-registration title deeds which might have had something to say on the question of ownership of boundaries.

Even allowing for the general boundaries rule, if it appears that the boundary structures are not in the “correct” location, legal advice should be sought; particularly when matter may result in a neighbour dispute.  The services of suitably qualified land surveyor may also be required.  Even when neighbours agree that there is a discrepancy, legal advice should be sought so as to rectify the situation.

*The question posed in this blog is based on a hypothetical situation.

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