Neighbours often think that the boundary runs in a straight line down the middle of their land, or that the boundary is defined by the Land Registry. However, this is not always the case, and often this is a complex area of law.
Boundaries can change over time, or additional land may been acquired by adverse possession.
Land Registry plans are drawn generally and not intended to determine boundaries. The fixed line drawn on a plan can equate to several metres on the ground.
The situation is often complicated, by the fact that boundary disputes usually form part of a much larger claim, usually arising from:
i) Arguments about damage to property from tree roots or branches,
ii) Interference with rights from a new construction,
iii) A wall or fence been built in the wrong place and allegation of trespass.
The starting point, it is always to gather as much information as possible. Office copy entries, plans, deeds, and historic photographs should all be obtained the shed light on the issue.
A report from a surveyor is often required to give their expert opinion as to where the boundary lies. However, this does not determine the matter.
Your neighbour may get their own report from their own surveyor who comes to a different opinion. Therefore, the Judge will need to be asked to determine exactly where the boundary is.
Alternative Dispute Resolution should always be considered, and is often successful in resolving the dispute.
A site visit with an experienced professional, both neighbours, and their representatives, can often lead to an understanding behind the dispute, and agreement reached.
When an agreement is reached, a Boundary Agreement together with a plan can be registered at the Land Registry. The boundary becomes determined both resolving the dispute, and clarifying matters for the future.
The whole procedure may be about to be overhauled, with the Boundaries Property Boundaries (Resolution of Disputes) Bill is still working its way through Parliament. If passed this would change the procedure with an aim to reduce the burden on the Court to provide a new alternative dispute resolution process akin to the Party Wall Act.
The success of the new legislation, and indeed if it does come into force remains to be seen, with limited parliamentary time available.
If you are unsure of the boundary, or are in dispute, contact one of the litigation team who can assist you by simply considering the documents and providing advice, utilising alternative dispute resolution or asking the Court to determine the boundary.