Boundary Disputes

Have you ever been concerned about the boundary fence position of your garden, when your neighbour re-built the garden boundary wall, or you find that their new extension is overlapping onto your driveway or path?

A minor disagreement, can quickly become a full scale dispute, involving solicitors letters and threats of court action, which can lead to spiralling legal costs.

The key to resolving the concern, is to obtain a specialist to look at all aspects of the problem and advise on whether or not you have a case.

In the first instance, this advice can be from either a Chartered Land Surveyor or a Chartered Surveyor, specialising in boundary disputes.

Chartered Surveyors specialising in boundaries, are professional advisers with relevant knowledge of both property issues and the law. They will look at the problem, prepare any technical data and may help resolve the dispute at an early stage and, if necessary, provide a Court with the appropriate advice and information needed to make a judgement. They will also advise on alternative dispute resolution procedures, which would avoid the need to go to Court.

The Land Registry, records the general position of the boundaries in each registered Title, using an adapted, large scale ordnance survey plan. This Title Plan may not accurately represent the true ground positions of the boundaries. The Land Registration Act 2002 allows you, under certain conditions, to determine and record the exact line of your boundaries on the registered Title, to avoid any future boundary dispute.

The red line drawn around the property, on the Land Registry Plan, only shows the general boundary. It does not identify whether the boundary runs along the centre of a hedge, or along one side of it. Ordnance Survey maps are equally unreliable, because as part of the mapping process, they do not mark exact property boundaries. So a line surrounding the property, is not necessarily the property boundary.

A Chartered Land Surveyor, will not only survey the land, check the Deeds and the Plans attached to them, but will refer to historical documents and aerial photographs.

The key to resolving the dispute speedily and successfully, is to seek expert advice as soon as possible. Before you ask an expert to work on your behalf, check the following:

  • Do they specialise in boundary work?
  • Do they have an experience of mapping and land surveys?
  • Are they skilled at interpreting aerial photographs?
  • Are they familiar with the latest civil procedure rules and experienced in preparing reports for Court?
  • Do they have experience as an expert witness in Court, and if so, how many Court appearances have they made in the last year?

If you can settle the matter before going to Court, of if the Court defines a boundary line and writes an Order, the Chartered Land Surveyor will mark out the boundary line. They may supervise any fencing or building contractors, to make sure that there are no further arguments. Ensure they prepare a new Plan, to the required specification, showing the agreed boundary line, for submission to the Land Registry, as a determined boundary.

Call the RICS Boundary Disputes Helpline, 0870 333 1600. The Helpline will put you in touch with an experienced local RICS member, who will provide you with up to 30 minutes of free advice. Taking specialist advice from the RICS, could save you thousands of pounds of legal costs and resolve the dispute swiftly. For more information visit www.rics.org/boundarydisputes.

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