How Property Boundaries are Defined and Conflicts Resolved

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According to the law, a property is not a property unless there are some boundaries that define its dimensions. These are imaginary lines that portion of what piece of land belongs to who.

Unfortunately, these lines are not always clearly established by Land Registry. In these cases, the legal boundaries of a piece of property are left to be decided by the legal presumptions relating to a specific type of property boundaries.

Fence Ownership and Responsibility

Imagine an array of terraced property. As a general rule, each property owner will own one fence and the guy at the end will typically own two. Nevertheless, there are no official rules that dictate who owns which fence, the one on the left or the one on the right? And in a perfect world, every homeowner would ensure that the “nice” side of the fence or wall is the side facing outwards. This is typically done as a civic duty and not a hard and fast rule.

The duty of properly designating the land boundaries typically falls on the previous landowner who originally sliced the land into portions and made some sales. Typically, the conveyance or the title deed for the property will specify exactly which piece of land belongs to whom. There may also be some mention as to who is responsible for which wall or fence.

“These plans may include special markings that define who is responsible with a “T” boundary or an “H” boundary, really just two “T” boundaries stuck together. Once the boundaries and fence responsibility has been properly defined for a single plot of land, those for other plots are easier to understand,” explains a land registry plan expert at Floorplanz.

How do you ascertain the correct position of boundaries and fence responsibilities?

The first thing to do will be to check over all the paperwork provided to you by your solicitor when you first purchased the land. If there are no indications of boundaries or fence responsibility here, you can see if any of your neighbours have anything in their documents. If there are no defining statements here, the next best idea would be to come to a solution with your neighbours as to where one-line ends and the next begins. If no agreement can be reached, the last and worst step is to get legal advice.

You may find that some of these documents actually contain a covenant between owners to take care for specific fences. The problem is that these agreements are not necessarily adopted by successive owners. In these situations where the two sides of the fence can’t reach an agreement on ownership or responsibility, the boundary should be considered a party boundary and no changes or adjustments should be made without the agreement of adjoining sides.

When a property is registered there should be a title plan that indicates where the property lies on a survey map. While these are all drawn to scale, you will find plenty of room to argue property boundaries as these are based on General Property Boundary Rules.

Can the position of the boundary be accurately determined by looking at the fence?

When the fence is originally placed to mark the boundary, the typical practice is to place the outer face of the fence alongside the property boundary on the side of the fences. But there are also many different styles and ways this can be accomplished.

  • Close board fences have panels that are placed between the posts. The outer facing panels are placed within the property boundary.
  • The outer faces of the boards are positioned against the boundary line when flat rails are placed on the posts and then close board fences placed on these
  • The outer faces of concrete/metal boundary divisions are placed up against the boundary line and the wires can be placed between these.
  • Wooden posts can also be positioned with their outer faces against the boundary line, the wires or cables are then stapled to the outer face.

Properly defining which are the property boundaries and who is responsible for which fence is not always as straightforward as we would like it to be. There may be times where the specifics will have to be discussed with neighbours and agreements made. If all else fails, Land Registry has a service which they offer called “Determining the Boundary, you will need to bring a topographical survey of the location in question.