A boundary feature can be a fence, wall, hedge, ditch, piece of wire or sometimes even just the edge of a driveway. They can sometimes be the cause of heated debate triggering arguments between neighbours – perhaps over just a few inches of ground. I often get asked questions about boundaries and they tend to be some of the hardest to answer.

I often have to start by explaining what we can’t tell you, which is exactly where your legal boundary is as our title plans only show general boundaries. In a lot of cases we can’t tell you which boundary feature you are responsible for.

People often think they are responsible for the left (or right?) hand boundary wherever they live but there isn’t any legal basis for this. Sometimes deeds lodged with us when we first register the property may have information about it, in which case it may be mentioned in the register. In a lot of cases though, the deeds make no mention. Then there are cases where they refer to ‘T’ marks on a plan and include wording such as ‘to maintain the boundaries marked with an inward facing T mark’. Larger developments tend to have some indication provided by the builder but there are no hard and fast rules I’m afraid.

If you want to change an existing boundary, such as replacing an old fence with a new one, we always recommend discussing with your neighbour first and making sure it is all agreed. The registered titles can assist you reaching an agreement, only if this information has been added.

Boundary disputes can be complex and I always suggest getting some legal advice if a dispute is in danger of flaring up as ultimately, if the dispute continues, it could be a Court that would decide on such disputes. There are other organisations that can also help such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) who have a boundary dispute helpline on 02476 868555 but if you can reach an agreement with your neighbour then it can be a lot less stressful and certainly a lot less costly.

Important points

  • Our information can sometimes help but is often part of the bigger picture
  • You can obtain a copy of both your neighbour’s and your own title register, title plan and/or any deeds we have on file, if you want to check to see if they contain any information about boundaries.
  • The title plan will show you the general boundaries of the property. A deed plan may refer to measurements but these have to be interpreted as the land may not be level and you don’t know where they were measured from?

Read our guidance on property boundaries for more information.

By AdamH,
Customer Service Representative at HM Land Registry Head Office