Solving Boundary Problems - Land Registry
Published: 20-07-2018 | Updated: 12-09-2018
As a general rule the first source of help whenever there is a boundary problem, is to look at the Land Registry documents. Although most people will immediately turn to the land Registry Title Plan, in actuality, this is not a very helpful document for clearing up boundary problems. There are, however, quite a number of other helpful documents supplied by the Land Registry. This article looks at the documents available, all of which are generally supplied in a Boundary Search.
The Boundary Search includes the following documents, for each property involved in the dispute:
- Title Register
- Title Plan
- Conveyancing Deeds
- Deed Plans
- Lease Plans
- Illustrated guide with samples of boundary extracts.
The Title Register is the first document to examine. It may or may not contain all the detail you will need, but often it will point you to the documents that do. In the first section of the Register, the A Section, the address will be iterated. This will be the full postal address of the property and will make reference to any land that has been added to the Title, e.g. where a parcel of land has been added to it. It will also refer to any land that has been removed from the Title.
The address will also contain a reference to the Title Plan and will refer to the land in the Title as that being edged in red on the Plan.
Various parts of the Register will also refer to the Title Plan by describing parcels of land that deal with covenants and easements, and state that they are shown on the plan with coloured tints or hatching.
Boundary Structure Notices are generally referred to in the A section of the Register, and also Conveyancing Deeds that contain easements. The C section will refer to Conveyancing Deeds that contain restrictive covenants. There is often an extract of such Deeds, followed by a note to say that the Land Registry have made a copy of it. This means that the Deed is available to purchase, and that it will be included with our Boundary Search.
The Title Plan is an illustration of the layout of the property, its boundaries and buildings. The curtilage of the property is that shown within the red edging that surrounds the property. It is not, however, precise, and is simply a line drawn within the black boundary lines shown on the Ordnance Survey map. This, itself, is not precise. As a general guide the Title Plan is useful, but not for precision boundary identification.
Parcels of land that contain covenants and easements not affecting other parts of the land are coloured with edging, tints or hatching, the meaning of the colours being identified in the Title Register.
Section 60 of the Land Registration Act 2002 states that the boundary shall be shown in a general way only, unless it has been determined by the Land Registry, as a fixed boundary. This would only occur on the application of one of the neighbours after agreement had been reached by them as to where the true boundaries lay, and only if the Land Registry agree with that decision.
The legal definition of a property boundary utilises a notional dividing line between the properties, i.e. the line drawn by OS on their map. That line does not exist physically, and accordingly there is also a physical definition of a boundary, which requires an inspection from the site itself. It will generally follow the physical features, e.g. walls, hedges, trees, ditches, rivers. Depending upon the feature the boundary may pass through its centre or along one of its sides. None of this can be seen from the Title Plan, and as the Plan rarely contains T or H marks, measurements, dimensions or angles, it cannot be relied upon for accuracy.
The Conveyancing Deeds usually contain a huge amount of detail, much of which will not be helpful to you. However, the Deeds that were used to create easements and covenants are always helpful, and may contain the information you require. It is rare for a Deed to state directly the boundary locations; more often they will contain statements about structures that may appear in the adjoining property such as a pipe. Knowing the pipe is next door and not on your property may provide a useful clue as to the boundary position.
Other statements may relate to overhanging eaves and gutters, the positioning of a wall to the exact line of the boundary, etc. All Deeds are different and so it is useful to look through each Deed for each property.
Many Conveyancing Deeds have Deed Plans attached to them. They quite often have T and H marks drawn on them, which will indicate the position and/or responsibility for the boundaries. They may also have measurements, dimensions and angles written onto them.
Deed Plans vary in quality, some being hand-drawn, some being professionally prepared. They all add to the evidence, however, as to the boundary positions, and if there is no evidence to the contrary, will probably be accepted as correct.
Where one of the properties has a leasehold title there will be a Lease. The Lease is usually very detailed, as the freeholder will wish to make certain that the boundaries between each leasehold property are known. This is because there are more likely to be maintenance issues relating to shared areas and boundaries.
Most Leases contain a detailed Lease Plan, which when read with the Lease itself, bring clarity to the boundary positions.
Illustrated Boundary Guide
The Boundary guide provides most of the information you will require relating to property boundaries, and is full of boundary document extracts from day to day examples. It is fully illustrated with sample Registers, Plans and Deeds and contains details of common law boundary presumptions, which will apply in the absence of evidence to the contrary.