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Boundary Disputes

Information on boundary disputes and who to contact to gain further advice.

Boundary disputes and legal boundaries

The local authority does not have any role in resolving boundary disputes. The local authority does not hold records of legal boundaries unless the boundary is one which is shared by the local authority as a land owner.

Boundaries are generally shown on large scale Ordnance Survey plans held by the Land Registry, however these are the physical rather than legal boundaries.

The Land Registration Act 2002 enables you to determine the exact line of your boundaries on a registered title.

A minor disagreement can quickly become a full scale dispute involving solicitor's letters and the threat of court action. This can be a costly process and therefore it pays to think hard before taking legal action.

Mapping the exact boundary

Accurately identifying the boundary between properties needs specialist knowledge. The red line drawn around a property on a 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 indicate exact boundaries. Thus a line surrounding a property is not necessarily the property boundary.

Boundaries can change over time for many reasons: a diverted water course, or a wooden fence that moves slightly each time it is replaced. The reason for such changes is rarely recorded and can lead to disputes, especially if the owner has lost the right to move the boundary line back to its original position.

Dealing with disputes

If a dispute can not be resolved between the parties, the only way to resolve the dispute quickly and efficiently is to employ an expert. Before you engage an expert to work on your behalf check whether they are experienced in mapping and land surveys, the latest civil procedure rules, preparing reports for court and acting as an expert witness in court.

The matter may ultimately be resolved before going to court or the court may define the boundary line and issue an order to that effect. A chartered land surveyor can then mark out the boundary line. They may supervise any fencing or building contractors to ensure there are no further arguments.

Who to contact

Contact the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors for advice on solving disagreements over boundaries.

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

Telephone: 0247 686 8555

Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm

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