It is rare for a boundary dispute to involve an argument for more than a small area of land. The vast majority of boundary disputes are over a couple of centimetres.
You may not think like it is a lot, but those few centimetres can severely impact a property. Not just when it comes to the value of the property, but how the inhabitants use it.
You would think that you can go to the Land Registry and get the title plan for a property. However, it is not always that clear. There will be a line on the plan.
If there is a feature on an Ordnance Survey map (i.e. a hedge or wall), then there will be a straight red line indicating a clear boundary. However, if neither exists, there will be a dotted line. This isn’t as clear and could be subject to disputes.
In England & Wales, we use something known as ‘general boundaries’. This has been the case since the Land Registration Act 2002. This will, essentially, indicate a boundary based upon recognisable physical features from Ordnance Survey maps.
The result is that title plans do not show the exact boundary. The best place to look will be the Title Documents, but even that will not show you everything. It will indicate where the boundary is, but that isn’t the whole story.
Our goal is to help you to use the various Land Registry documents to work out where your boundary is. This should help you to resolve the vast majority of issues when it comes to your border.
These methods will be the same methods that a boundary surveyor may use. They will still use the same documents when providing a boundary search. Therefore, you can carry out your own search. You will rarely need to spend the vast sums of cash that a boundary surveyor demands.
All boundary searches will include all documents for the properties on the boundary line. You will also be given information on Common Law presumptions, which will provide a greater aid in working out your boundary.
If it is still impossible to solve the boundary dispute, then you will need to use other methods, e.g. working with a boundary surveyor, or maybe a solicitor.
For the most part, you can work out where your boundaries are using three different methods.
The Legal Boundary
This is the line that separates two properties. It is hard to visualise, but the line is not ‘thick’. You can’t look at a document for your home and see the legal boundary with 100% certainty, because the instant one property ends, the other one begins. There isn’t space between them.
The Physical Boundary
This is the boundary that you can see. You can see them on maps. You can see them on deeds. Physical boundaries may be:
Anything that can physically separate a property
The problem is working out who the boundary feature belongs to. In most cases, it will be clearly defined.
Otherwise you need to use some presumptions. For example; in the case of a fence, the ‘owner’ of the fence will be the property which has the supporting fence posts on it.
In other cases (e.g. in the case of a hedge), the feature is technically shared between the two properties. If it does not say anything in the Title documents, then you will need to talk to the neighbour to agree.
The Land Registry Boundary
This is what the courts will use to determine where the property boundary is. The Land Registry boundary will be put on a map by Ordnance Survey. It will be a red line next to a black line.