Boundaries; when to fight about them
The Land Registry has updated their Practice Guide 40, supplement 3 (HM Land Registry plans: boundaries (practice guide 40, supplement 3 – 4 February 2019) explaining its approach to boundaries and the application of the law.
Boundaries are a very hard to define but essentially they are a legal line that divides two contiguous pieces of land. Sometimes these follow walls, fences, hedges, rivers, streams: sometimes they are entirely legal in nature and nothing can be seen on the ground.
Boundary disputes are some of the most contentious areas of property law, people let their emotions get the better of them and rather than using their rational human thinking they let their animal, limbic response take over and the whole thing can quickly descend in to a real war of words and even worse.
As a property litigation solicitor my role is to understand the needs of my clients and to work with them to get a sensible outcome. Sometimes the answer is to profit from the dispute and seek a financial settlement from the neighbour in exchange for a clearly defined boundary determination based on clear plans and the help of an expert surveyor.
The costs of going to court or to seek a Land Registry boundary determination without the agreement of your neighbour is likely to be something that balloons beyond what you wanted to spend.
As a first step, get the deeds and read the words. There are various conventions and presumptions that apply to contractual interpretation and whether the plan takes priority over the parcel of land clause or vice-versa.
The updated Land Registry Practice Guide sets out a number of presumptions and is a useful starting point before you look to speak to a specialist land surveyor or a property litigator.
There is a non-binding pre-action protocol for boundary disputes which was launched last year and this should also be consulted before starting any court actions. The key to the dispute being resolved is a full and frank exchange of evidence at an early stage.
Should you wish to discuss what outcomes can be achieved then feel free to pick up the phone or email Paul at our offices.
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