Property boundaries and who is responsible for maintaining them are one of the main causes of disputes between neighbours. Boundaries can become ill-defined over the years and arguments arise when one householder wants to change something and his neighbour objects. The UK Land Registry can provide information that will settle disagreements and restore neighbourly relations.
A general rule is that the supporting posts of a fence are on the side of the neighbour who has responsibility for maintenance of the boundary.
Obtain a copy of your property's title deeds. Your solicitor should have provided you with a copy when you purchased the property. If you cannot locate the deeds, you can apply for a copy from the Land Registry office. There will be a fee for this service.
Study the deeds. On the plan of the property boundaries are marked with a “T”. These will indicate which neighbour bears responsibility for maintenance. The “T” will be on the side of the boundary owner. The red lines outlining the property boundaries are often very thick – the outer limit of the line is the actual boundary. In certain cases the boundaries are ill-defined and it is impossible to work out from the deeds who owns what. These boundaries are judged as being “party boundaries”, and neighbours will have joint responsibility. A boundary clearly marked with a sideways “H” is a party boundary.
Negotiate with your neighbour regarding the maintenance of party boundaries. Solutions include dividing the boundary in half lengthwise, or agreeing to carry out repairs and maintenance on alternating years, splitting the cost between you.
Apply for a "Boundary Search" from the Land Registry service. This is a detailed report that can apply to one or more properties. There is a fee to pay, which increases with the number of freehold searches requested. For a dispute over two adjoining properties, the Land Registry states the report will provide the following documents: “Title Registers for both properties, Title Plans for both properties, Deeds and Documents for both properties, Legal Boundary Presumptions Report and a Step by Step Boundary Guide”.
Things you need
- Title Deeds (Title Register)
- Boundary search