Property Boundary Lines - What You Need To Know

16th February 2018

Harry Williams

A boundary line is an invisible legal line that designates the extent of land ownership which has been established from conveyance deeds or ‘title plans’ produced by HM Land Registry usually based on an Ordnance Survey map.

Commonly, this plan or drawing will only show the general boundaries of the property and it is not exact nor definite; because of scaling issues lines on plans are often a metre wide on the ground or more.

A registered title plan rarely ever displays boundary structures (such as fences, walls or hedges) and all measurements scaled from the plan may not match measurements between the same points on the ground.

Combined with the inevitable changes to land which occur over time, for many reasons, and the fact that title plans are rarely updated, it is no surprise that a title plan is not definitive, and HM Land Registry make it clear that they are unable to tell you precisely where a property boundary is located. This is where issues and disagreements can arise.

Minor disagreements can quickly elevate into full-scale disputes involving solicitor’s letters and threats of court action, so we would always advise to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible. Obtain an official copy of the title plan and try to agree with your neighbour at the earliest instance on where the boundary lies and any responsibilities for maintaining the boundary and any structures that may lie there.

If a disagreement cannot be avoided, then you should seek the advice from a Chartered building surveyor who specialises in boundary disputes. Matters can be settled before going to court, with the preparation of a new plan with the marked boundary, based on the impartial and professional opinion of the surveyor, to be submitted to the HM Land Registry as a ‘Boundary Agreement’. Alternatively to expert determination, you can mediate the dispute and have an alternative to formal litigation if any doubt or uncertainty exists between parties on the correct boundary line.

If you are in a dispute with a neighbour over property boundary lines, please feel free to call us for impartial advice and guidance. We have Chartered surveyors with many years’ experience in this field and, with good local knowledge and understanding, we will help settle matters as speedily and efficiently as possible.

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