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Your Property Boundary: What You Need to Know

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 29 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Boundary Property Ownership

What is a Land Boundary and why is it important?

A Land Boundary marks the edges of a person's property and so defines the limits of the area of land that they own.

Boundaries are important as they determine the ownership of land. There are no separate laws that determine who is responsible for anything on the land such as passageways, trees, hedges or fences; whoever owns the land will be responsible. So if the boundary line is disputed, it is important to determine who is responsible; if these responsibilities are not properly carried out, the non-compliant party may be liable for any damages caused by their breach.

Where might a boundary dispute be a problem?

Consider the following scenarios:

(1) A path between two properties

A passageway between a public house and a shop is commonly used by members of the public going to and from local shops. Both businesses consider that the other is responsible for maintaining the passageway. As a result, neither has maintained it.

Following a wet summer, there was a build up of algae in the passageway. This made the passageway slippy. Whilst out shopping, Mrs Smith slipped on the algae and fell, breaking her hip. Upon consulting Land Registry Plans, it becomes apparent that the passageway is part of the land owned by the shop. The shop owner is therefore liable for Mrs Smith's fall and will have to settle her personal injury claim.

(2) A tree on a property boundary

A large tree grew at the boundary between three residential houses. During a particularly bad storm 3 months ago, the tree was hit by lightening which split the trunk. One half was left swaying precariously. However as the neighbours did not know who was responsible for dealing with it, it was ignored.

On a particularly windy day, part of the trunk fell through the roof of Mr Turner's house, causing around £100,000 of damage. Upon consulting the Title Plans, it became apparent that Mr Jennings owned the land upon which the tree was growing, and so it was his responsibility to have it cut down when it become dangerous. Mr Jennings (and his insurers) therefore had to pay to repair Mr Turner's garage.

How do I find a Land Boundary?

Information on land boundaries can be found by looking at Land Registry Title Plans. You can obtain more information here.The boundary outline is marked in red on title plans.

The outlines of any buildings are marked in black. However these will only be buildings that were built at the time of the original registration. Any additions added later such as outhouses or conservatories will not usually be marked.

Whilst the boundaries will be illustrated on the plan, 'responsibility' is not always shown. If responsibility has been previously determined however, it is marked by the letter T on a boundary. The party that owns the land at the top, flat side of the 'T' will be responsible for the boundary.

The Title Plan will come with a description of any other shaded areas. For example the above green shaded area shows a land charge (a mortgage), over that residential building.

Note: An online copy is great for general information. However if you wish to rely on the Title Plan as proof of ownership (such as in a court case), you will need a formal hard copy, known as an "Official Copy Title Plan". To apply for an Official Copy, you will need to fill in form OC1 and send it, along with your fee (£7) to: Citizen Centre, Land Registry Wales Office, T? Cwm Tawe, Phoenix Way, Llansamlet, Swansea, SA7 9FQ. The Plan should arrive by post within a week.

Costs:

  • Online Copy Title Plan - £3
  • Official Copy Title Plan - £7

How to fix an exact boundary

Title Plans only provide a rough guide as to boundaries. Sometimes a more accurate boundary placement needs to be known. For example a Title Plan may show that a boundary follows the line of a fence, but not in enough detail to determine who is responsible for maintenance of that fence.

If you wish to fix an exact boundary, you need to:

  1. Try to agree any unclear areas with your neighbours and all sign an agreement to that effect
  2. Ask a surveyor to draw up a detailed plan
  3. Send both the signed agreement and detailed plan to the Land Registry, along with a completed application (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/exact-line-of-boundary-registration-db), and your application fee (£90)

What if you cannot agree?

If you can't agree exact boundaries with your neighbours, you can have the dispute settled by an Independent Adjudicator to HM Land Registry. You should take legal advice if you are pursuing this option. First however, consider why you need to determine the boundary. This is a fairly costly option and it may actually be cheaper for example, to simply repair the fence (or remove a tree etc) than spend money determining whose responsibility it is to do so!

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[Add a Comment]
Lego - Your Question:
We have recently brought a house in a cul-de-sac and have a brick built boundary wall, the other side of the wall is a grass verge then a public footpath then road,we have been told by the solicitor when purchasing the property that we own the grass verge and maintenance should be done by ourself (I.e cutting the grass). The boundary wall is looking abit worse for wear and will need redoing in the near future,is there any reason why we couldn't move our boundary wall to the edge of the grass verge,so to make our garden footprint slightly bigger?

Our Response:
We can't really advise on individual matters but if the verge actually forms part of the public footpath (even though you are the landowner), you would not be able to move the wall. It would be better to consult your local council and a solicitor.
DrivewayExpert - 31-May-17 @ 2:36 PM
We have recently brought a house in a cul-de-sac and have a brick built boundary wall, the other side of the wall is a grass verge then a public footpath then road,we have been told by the solicitor when purchasing the property that we own the grass verge and maintenance should be done by ourself (I.e cutting the grass). The boundary wall is looking abit worse for wear and will need redoing in the near future,is there any reason why we couldn't move our boundary wall to the edge of the grass verge,so to make our garden footprint slightly bigger?
Lego - 29-May-17 @ 9:47 AM
Confused - Your Question:
My neighbours have dropped their kerb, but it crosses in front of my side wall, reducing the space in front of my house to park. Is this allowed?I have read that if any part of my car is on the dropped kerb I would be liable for a parking ticket. Surely that's not allowed? We live in Nottingham

Our Response:
Obstruction of a dropped kerb is fineable in Nottingham, so yes, you could be ticketed for this. If you want to dispute the positioning of the dropped kerb, you should contact the council highways department and ask them about it.
DrivewayExpert - 22-May-17 @ 12:01 PM
My neighbours have dropped their kerb, but it crosses in front of my side wall, reducing the space in front of my house to park. Is this allowed?I have read that if any part of my car is on the dropped kerb I would be liable for a parking ticket. Surely that's not allowed? We live in Nottingham
Confused - 19-May-17 @ 4:55 PM
Do I need planning permission for a double garage when we are up a private drive
John - 13-Apr-17 @ 3:35 PM
Abrint - Your Question:
Hi, what are the laws about building a fence/wall around the boundary of my property? Particularly my parking space? Also change of use from a parking space to extend my postage stamp garden? Thanks

Our Response:
You need to contact your local planning office as we don't have details about the area you live in.
DrivewayExpert - 24-Feb-17 @ 12:26 PM
Hi, what are the laws about building a fence/wall around the boundary of my property? Particularly my parking space? Also change of use from a parking space to extend my postage stamp garden? Thanks
Abrint - 21-Feb-17 @ 11:12 PM
Worried - Your Question:
We bought a new house on an estate which is detached as is our neighbours. The problem is our driveways were completed in Tarmac and the width is 23-24 feet, which has no dividing line between. Our garages have been built together which makes the whole area look like a double drive with a double garage which is not the case. The brick pillar down the centre of the garages is the boundary line which then runs the whole length of the driveway.We have had words with the builder over this but our neighbour seems unconcerned. Probably because they park their car on our side occasionally and leave us little room to get out of the passenger door.What should we do with regards to this problem? We feel a little uneasy as I saw someone at their house today looking at the drive and garden, they know we are on holiday shortly so are worried they may have work carried out whilst we are away. Are they supposed to notify us even if we each own the same width of driveway.

Our Response:
Could you consider erecting a small wall/fence to indicate the boundary line? What are you expecting your neighbours might do while you're away?
DrivewayExpert - 6-Jun-16 @ 10:47 AM
We bought a new house on an estate which is detached as is our neighbours.The problem is our driveways were completed in Tarmac and the width is 23-24 feet, which has no dividing line between.Our garages have been built together which makes the whole area look like a double drive with a double garage which is not the case.The brick pillar down the centre of the garages is the boundary line which then runs the whole length of the driveway. We have had words with the builder over this but our neighbour seems unconcerned.Probably because they park their car on our side occasionally and leave us little room to get out of the passenger door. What should we do with regards to this problem?We feel a little uneasy as I saw someone at their house today looking at the drive and garden, they know we are on holiday shortly so are worried they may have work carried out whilst we are away.Are they supposed to notify us even if we each own the same width of driveway.
Worried - 3-Jun-16 @ 4:49 PM
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