There may be some instances whilst you are living in your home that you want to know the boundaries of your property. You may be looking into an extension on your home or you may have some extravagant landscape gardening in mind. It is important that you understand the rules behind property boundaries in the UK to avoid any property boundary disputes.
This blog looks into the essential information surrounding boundaries in the UK and Wales.
When were boundaries created?
Boundaries are created when an owner of a large piece of land breaks up that land into smaller sections. The owner then sells these sections off. The original owner of the land is responsible for defining the property boundaries. You buy land registry documents here.
When are the boundaries set?
The boundaries of land are set in the earliest title deed that belongs to the land in question. Depending on many factors, this original deed may be in written form or a map type plan or both.
Do inaccuracies occur?
It is actually quite common for mistakes to be found in original conveyance documents because, depending on the time, people were not skilled in measuring land or creating a precise plan or map. In 1991 the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 was passed to help rectify some of these issues.
What does the land registry do?
The land registry does not define property boundaries; it simply compiles and maintains a register of titles to land. The information in the registry has been submitted by applicants who were required to submit information about their titles. The land registry has no control over the accuracy of the information submitted and has no impact on the boundaries.
What is a title plan?
A title plan only shows the very basic position of property boundaries and these title plans are made with no investigation into the position of property boundaries. You can purchase a land registry title plan here.
Ordnance Scaling Maps
Ordnance scaling maps are made without any question to the property boundaries, they just show the physical features. They are not accurate and it isn’t a good idea to try and scale exact distances with these maps.
Boundary Demarcation and Disputes
If you decide to seek professional advice to establish your boundary they may also not be able to give you an accurate description and map. Dimensions created by a conveyance professional cannot be legally binding so their findings will have no legal force.
Legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in property law is vital if you have a boundary dispute with a neighbour. Your paper title will include a legal boundary based on descriptions in the title deeds and may even have accurate boundary demarcation and disputes surveyor in a well researched and analysed witness report. However, your title may be very vague.
On the 13th October 2003 the Land Registration Act was passed which allows applicants to register their possessory title to a neighbours land after 10 years of possession. The Land Registry will then send a notification of this to the property owner and the owner has 2 years to evict the squatter. If the squatter is still in possession 2 years after the initial application then they will be granted a possessory title. Adverse possession is not illegal or a criminal act. The law does not understand statements such as ‘Theft of land’. A legal boundary can be defeated by a successful adverse possession claim. You may wish to seek legal advice if you plan on pursuing adverse possession or you think you are apart of a claim.
Your solicitor may try to settle the matter with your neighbour’s solicitor. This can go two ways: smoothly or cause more problems. Boundary disputes are a specialised practice area and you need to look for a surveyor who specialises in boundary demarcation and disputes not just a chartered surveyor.
As you can see, information on actual boundaries can be hard to come by and if you have a property issue it can be difficult to resolve. The most important thing is to seek legal advice from a professional who has experience with boundary issues.
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Are you dealing with a property boundary issue at the moment? What problems are you facing? Do you have any advice?
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