IF YOU ARE UNSURE AS TO WHERE YOUR BOUNDARY IS OR WHO OWNS IT, the starting point is always your title deeds. If your house has been built on a new estate, then it is likely that there will be a reasonable scale plan showing the garden boundaries. You should always ask your solicitor or conveyancer for a copy of your boundary plan. A copy of the plan registered at H M Land Registry can be obtained, although it will only be of a scale of 1 to 1250, unless there is a plan from the transfer when the land was first sold.
For about £8 you can get a copy of your Title Deeds as registered at HM Land Registry. You can also obtain a copy of anyone else’s Title Deeds for the same amount if they are registered.
All you need to do is to click on www.landreg.gov.uk and click on the English or Welsh sections. Once in click on “information about finding out about property ownership” and follow the instructions. No-one will know that you have obtained a copy of their Title.
Remember the boundaries shown on the Plan are only a general indication of the boundaries.
If you do not know your Title Number or that of the property you wish to look at do a Public Index Map search and you will be given the Number or told that it is not registered.
IF YOU SEE “T MARKS” ON THE PLAN, then these point in the direction of the owner who has to maintain the wall, fence or hedge. (See the diagram below).
‘H’ MARKS INDICATE A PARTY WALL:
If the deeds say nothing, as unfortunately they all too often do, then in the case of fences with posts or struts on one side, the law presumes that the owner on that side owns and is responsible for repairing the fence.
In the case of a wall if the deeds say nothing as to its position, it is likely that the boundary will be immediately on the side of the wall furthest away from the garden of the owner who put it up. It is presumed that the builder of the wall will usually take care to build it with its outer face on the limits of his land taking care not to encroach onto his neighbours garden.
Try to head off lengthy disputes. It is a good idea when you first move into a house to go upstairs and photograph the boundaries as they exist at that time. Date the photographs and keep them carefully. Take another set of photographs each year from the same place and in that way any alterations can be clearly seen, should a dispute arise. Naturally tact is needed to avoid upsetting the neighbours who may be suspicious.
Prevention is always better than cure. If you plan to put up a new fence or wall or plant a new hedge, try to talk to your neighbour about it. In that way, you will hopefully put his mind at rest.
When putting up a fence, custom dictates that the posts are entirely on your land and the face of the fence, points to your neighbours. It is worth is giving up an inch or two of your land to avoid it going onto next door and creating a dispute. This is especially so since you will need cooperation to be able to repair the fence from your neighbours land. Ensure it complies with Planning Regulations – ring them first.
If you are using Larch Lap fencing, where the panels sit between the posts, then make sure that the entire post is on your side of the boundary and that the top strip overlaps the lower strip on the fact which point towards your neighbours.
If you are planting a new hedge, then try to plant it at least 1.2 metres inside your boundary line. It is then far less likely to encroach onto your neighbours property. Try to keep it trimmed to no more than 3 metres in height.
If a wall or fence has been wrongly built on your land by your neighbour, this is a legal trespass. You can obtain a court injunction against your neighbour telling him to remove the wall/fence and you can sue him for damages. Although there is a right of self help and you could demolish the wall, be very careful. This right ceases when an injunction has been obtained from the court or refused by the court in the case of Burton -v- Winters (1993) a wall encroached on a garage but the court refused an injunction. It was held by the court that the right of self help died with the refusal of the injunction and the plaintiff was sent to prison for 2 years for demolishing the wall contrary to the Court Order.
If the Title Deeds state the height of any wall/fence and/or the materials to be used and it is built contrary to either specification, then you would be able to take legal action. Again this should only be done as a last resort.
For further advice, please complete the Advice Form.