Jun 8 2012 By Gillian Outram, partner
Disputes between neighbours over boundaries can escalate and become acrimonious. IBB Solicitors’ head of private client group, Gillian Outram, a residential conveyancing specialist, gives a simple guide to the issue.
THE exact position or height of a boundary can sometimes cause difficulties, but it is possible to avoid arguments and costly litigation.
You should check your title deeds as to the position of any boundary although unfortunately the deeds are often silent as to the ownership. If you are fortunate and there is an internal T marking on the title plan then this points in the direction of the owner who has to maintain the wall fence or hedge.
If your title is registered at the Land Registry, except in very few cases, where the register of title states that these have been fixed, the title plan only indicates the general boundaries to the registered land.
The Ordnance Map on which the registered title plan is based shows physical features such as walls, fences and hedges and where the boundaries are represented by these the physical boundaries are defined on the title but the exact boundary lines are left undetermined.
If there are no physical features then the line on the Ordnance Map will be shown by a dotted line.
However if the boundary ownership is not clear on the deeds but consists of a fence with posts on one side then the law presumes that the owner of that side owns and is responsible for the fence on the basis that the posts have been erected on the owner's land.
If you are intending to erect a new fence then do speak to your neighbours and ensure that any posts are erected within your land. If planting a hedge then plant well into your own land inside the boundary line so that it is unlikely to encroach on your neighbour's property.
Do make sure that any fence is not in excess of the height that is required by planning legislation and if you have high hedging or two or more conifers then check the legislation (the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 and the regulations applying) so as not to restrict your neighbour's light.