One of the most common causes of neighbour disputes is over the position of a boundary fence or wall. The first step to resolving the dispute is to establish exactly where the boundary lies – Who is responsible for maintaining what part of the boundary? The position on the ground does not always reflect the actual legal position in the title deeds and then again, the deeds will not always answer the questions!
Over the years through property ownerships and various different occupants, the boundaries can often be moved, diverted, adjusted and even overgrown. While the legal boundary line will always be indicated on the Land Registry Title Plan, often these will be to a very high scale, usually 1 to 1,250. In practice, this means that when a Surveyor attempts to determine the boundary line using Land Registry Title Plan scale, there can be as much as a one metre wide discrepancy as to where the true boundary line lies.
Due to the nature of such matters, Boundary Dispute cases such as these can often become a case of one person’s word against another. Because of this, it can be helpful to get a professional opinion on the matter.
You can hire a Boundary Surveyor who can write up a boundary determination report, in this document the Boundary Surveyor expresses their professional opinion on where the Boundary Line lies and details how the Surveyor came to that opinion.
The Boundary Surveyor will often visit the property and conduct a variety of different tests in order to write up an adequate report and come to their decision. They will then usually take a series of measurements and photographs in order to gather an accurate assessment of what the current projection of the Boundary line is.
Once this inspection is complete the Boundary Surveyor will undertake desktop research, which includes looking at the Land Registry Details, the Land Registry Map Search, previous Planning Applications, Historical and Present Maps and even Google Earth and Street View in order to gain evidence to where the Boundary Line may lie.
You can make an application to the Land Registry in form DB to determine the exact line of the boundary and this is often a good place to start to resolve a dispute over the position of the boundary. They will look at old title deeds and physical features as well as historical images (photographs for example) to try to establish the true legal boundary.
The Land registry will only determine the boundary if there is sufficient evidence to confirm its location. They will not adjudicate where there is serious doubt. Before making an application, therefore, it is a good idea for both neighbours to collect as much evidence as possible in the form of documents, old photographs and perhaps witness statements.
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