Arguing with your neighbour about your garden? How to check your property’s boundary

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Boundary disputes can be long, frustrating, and expensive to resolve, making it important to accurately figure out just where your property starts and finishes. Boundary disputes are most often caused by a wall, fence, plants or a property extension and if not dealt with amicably, can escalate into more serious issues and worst-case scenario, court visits.

Boundary disputes take place when neighbours hold differing views of the positioning of the line that separates their properties.

Fences, in particular, are a recurrent catalyst for dispute, as both parties tend to believe they own their respective side of the fence, or they believe the fence is a joint responsibility that must be kept in order by both parties.

However, it’s actually more than likely that one party owns the entire fence outright – it’s just not often verbally defined when moving into a house.

Luckily, there are ways to determine the perimeter of your property before the situation starts to escalate.

How to check the boundary of your property

Most people often turn straight to Land Registry as their first port of call, however, this is a common misconception as Land Registry plans often only show “general boundaries” rather than legal ones.

This can therefore bear a significant impact on accuracies, which can start the dispute off on the wrong foot.

Instead, you should get hold of the pre-registration deeds, also known as the original conveyance, for both properties.

The conveyance will contain a “parcels clause”, which should provide a clear description of the property conveyed, with clarity on the property’s boundary.

There are some rare occasions where this clause can fall short of providing all the answers, so in this instance, you can assess the extrinsic features of the boundary in question, such as physical features on the ground, sales particulars, architect drawings, and more.

There is also a possibility that boundaries could have been changed through an agreement with previous owners and tenants, which could cause a few additional issues.

Abigail Flanagan from law firm Hugh James said: “If the boundary line cannot be agreed on the basis of what you can see in the deeds, you and your neighbour may want to consider agreeing to jointly appoint a chartered land surveyor.

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She continued: “They can attend the site and determine where the true boundary line lies on the basis of the deeds and the site features.”

Mediation services like these are a good place if agreements can’t be made one-to-one, and they’re a lot cheaper than court costs.

It also means the parties remain in control of the dispute while hopefully achieving an outcome satisfactory for all.

If you’re in need of a land surveyor, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors offers a service to help.

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