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property boundary dispute help required

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property boundary dispute help required

Old 14th Nov 2020, 11:27
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property boundary dispute help required

Have any of you good folk had experience of determining exactly where the legal boundaries of a residential property lie?

We have believed, since we moved in here 30 years ago, that our boundary with our immediate neighbours to the east, lies along the face of their integral garage wall and then on a line straight out to the public highway. The front gardens of both properties were originally (in 1961) open plan except for a knee high wall along the edge of the public highway. The knee high walls have the appropriate gaps to allow vehicle access to the drives as you would expect. The folk before us planted trees/bushes on our side of the front boundary which we have maintained ever since. At the rear of our neighbours garage there was a diagonal section of fence (my fence) bringing the apparent boundary 3 feet nearer to our buildings and then a fence (also mine) running parallel to our building goes to the far end of the plot in a straight line.

When we moved in there was open access round the side of our house and I put up a fence and gate to close that off. Before doing so I asked the old neighbours (they had been in there since the houses were new) if they had any objection and they told me that it as was on my land they could not object but they did say I was not to attach anything to their garage wall, my fence had to be free standing. It is.

We now have new neighbours. They are doing significant development on the site, including pulling down the garage and rebuilding to add extra bedrooms. The new work is planned to come right up to the boundary as it exists but their plans show the boundary to be a straight line from the parallel fence right out to the road, missing out the diagonal bit of me fence and taking some 3 to 4 feet from our land all the way to the roadway.

I have got copies of the land registry documents for both properties and which do show a straight line boundary. The also show that our house is parallel to the neighbours, it is not. The land registry does not show any of the properties down our side of the close as having garages, all of them have, built when the houses were. In both directions ALL of the houses have the apparent boundary along the side of the garage and then follow the same line right out to the roadway at the point where the gap in the knee high wall lies. Clearly the land registry documents show the intent before the actual properties were built. In the original estate planning and building process the garages were an optional extra, we have been told, but everyone along our side opted for them at the building time.

How do we determine, legally, where the limits of our land lie? We could go down the Adverse Possession to claim our property is ours but this does not feel right. It suggests that we have some doubt about the ownership, which we don't. The local council planning department doesn't seem able to help, they say we need to go to the land registry. The land registry clearly can't help, they don't do anything to sort out boundary complaints.

How does one go about correcting the land registry plans and getting actual dimensions referenced to something fixed in space. The building positions cannot be taken as a true reference point as they are neither accurate in size, shape or orientation.

Should we be talking to a surveyor or a solicitor or both?

Help.

Rans6................
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Old 14th Nov 2020, 11:39
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Some discussion about this kind of thing on thread below, post 29 onwards.

Estate Agent being crafty?
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Old 14th Nov 2020, 11:43
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Don't know about the UK, but I suspect it's the same or similar to here. Hire a registerd/chartered/licenced cadastral surveyor To check the boundaries. He will check the plan deposited with the Land Titles Office, and place pegs to re-establish the correct boundaries.
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Old 14th Nov 2020, 11:55
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To me Adverse Possession doesn't suggest any doubt of ownership but is rather an instrument to facilitate recognising boundaries when the documented evidence, if any, is old and wrong. Old surveys and old town planning documents are full of errors. Conversely, even modern surveyors make mistakes and some of them are on the take.

If your new neighbours are rational and accepting of the boundary as it stands then you don't need to do anything, However, just to be sure, find your previous neighbour and get them to sign a declaration (with picture) that they recognised the existing boundary for (> 17 years) which could later be used in an Adverse Possession claim should things turn nasty. There is also nothing stopping you now proceeding with Adverse Possession right now but it's just a bureaucratic process that will cost a couple of $1,000 (you need to submit a recent survey of the land).
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Old 14th Nov 2020, 11:56
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Yes, still have the scars. When we bought the land on which we built our house, there was outline consent for a house, although we didn't want to build the house as designed. During the purchase process I discovered that the house shown on the planing consent couldn't have been built, as one of the boundaries, as shown on the Land Registry Title Plan, was in the wrong place - part of the house would have been on land belonging to a neighbour. The things I learned were these:

1. The Land Registry Title Plan, or any Title Plan included in older deeds, does not define any boundaries. This seemed odd to me, but I was assured that this has always been the case.

2. The boundaries only exist as mutually agreed features on the ground, and not on any bit of paper, digital or otherwise. If ground markers get moved, then boundaries often move with them.

3. Boundaries may shift over time, as people erect new fences or walls, hedges get pulled down, etc. It's very common for boundaries to move a metre or so over the space of a few decades, happens all the time.

The only way to pin a boundary down is to get a boundary survey, and get all parties to the boundary to agree that the marked boundary on the ground is in the right place. Needless to say this can be a fraught process. We pulled out of the purchase of the first plot of land we were going to buy, as there was a boundary error of about 20m and when we questioned it we uncovered a boundary dispute that had been going on for about 10 years, and was likely to take another 10 years to resolve.

The way we resolved the boundary error here was to pay for a boundary survey (cost about 400 in 2012) and agree with the neighbour that an old post and rail fence marked the position of the boundary. In our case it was the Title Plan that was in error, by about 7m, and the actual boundary on the ground, as marked by a few remaining fence posts, was where both we, and our prospective neighbour, assumed it to be. Once we had both agreed that the new plan produced by the surveyor was accurate, we had to get both sets of Title Plans changed with the Land Registry. Not a difficult process, but it did involve using solicitors to amend the sale agreements for both our plot and our neighbour's land (our neighbour had nothing to do with the sale of the plot we bought).

Although our Title Plan now shows the boundaries in the correct place, and although the new fence we built is exactly on the line of the boundary, that Title Plan still has no legal standing when it comes to defining the boundary. It's the fence that is the legally binding boundary, so if that moves a bit in years to come the boundary will move with it.

FWIW, the Title Plans held by the Land Registry are either copies of crayon drawings from a solicitors clerk, or are taken from automatically derived boundaries from aerial photos. The latter is the method the OS use, and it's not accurate. They use software to define the approximate position of linear features, using contrast matching, and this is prone to errors. For example, we went to look at a plot of land and noted a triangular notch shown on the Title Plan, that wasn't visible on the ground. It turned out that the notch was the shadow cast by an old barn that had been on the land, and the OS system had erroneously traced around it.

The simple answer is that you probably need to employ both a solicitor that specialises in boundary disputes (most general solicitors will be completely useless, in my experience) and also a boundary survey company. The latter are easy to find, and our experience was that the one we used (this one: http://dhsurveys.co.uk/ ) did a very good job, took about half a day to complete the work, and it proved to be very useful later on.
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Old 14th Nov 2020, 12:34
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As mentioned the Land Registry plans are often wrong.

I have a friend who bought a house from a estate of the elderly deceased owner. The neighbour of the semi-detached house had built a single storey extension. The kitchen extractor discharged directly over my friend's patio. This was contrary to the plans and the neighbour was forced to remove it. My friend then examined matters more closely and discovered the extension encoraches on her land by a few centimetres.

Roll on 5 years, 40,000 in legal costs, dispute unresolved and now court action seeking an injunction for alleged harassment with both sides entrenched in bitter warfare over a few centimetres of land which has no material impact on anybody.

My point being that these issues can escalate beyond all bounds of normality. My advice would be open and sincere communication with your neighbour with a view to resolving the issue before it gets completely out of control. Emphasising that is in both parties interest to work together for your own sanity apart from the expense!
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Old 14th Nov 2020, 12:34
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Two further bits of info. The neighbours who were in residence when we moved in were both getting on a bit in 1990 and have since deceased, as has the lady who moved in after them. We bough our property from the estate sale of our previous owner (also deceased), we never met him or his elderly daughter who put the house on the market. It had been empty for two years when we viewed but the house and garden were still being maintained. We have no contact details for the daughter who may well have passed away now.

We can't find our deeds, we moved our mortgage around to get a better deal and don't know where they ended up.

It would seem that a surveyor will be needed in the first instance, I'll call the one recommended on Monday, thanks.

Rans6........................
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Old 14th Nov 2020, 12:39
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VP sums it up nicely. Plans whether on old title deeds or at the Land Registry are never more than " for identification purposes only" - as the legal saying is. They can rarely be relied upon for boundary definition.
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Old 14th Nov 2020, 12:51
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In my neck of the woods (and our laws were copied from the UK) an Adverse Possession claim only requires another independent non-family person who has no interest/benefit of the land, just someone who recognises the boundary for at least the minimum number of years required. E.g a work colleague who was regularly invited to your house.

encoraches on her land by a few centimetres.
There is also a thing called the statute of limitations with boundary lines. It varies from place to place but in my area it's 10cm for the first 38 meters then gradually increases using some formula.
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Old 14th Nov 2020, 12:54
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Originally Posted by rans6andrew View Post
We can't find our deeds, we moved our mortgage around to get a better deal and don't know where they ended up.
They've almost certainly been destroyed. With the advent of compulsory land registration there was no requirement to hold old deeds, so they were often just destroyed. I managed to rescue the deeds from our old house in Cornwall, copied them and left the originals in a large envelope with all the other stuff, like instruction leaflets, guarantees for windows, etc, for the new owners, as they were going to be destroyed otherwise. I only did this because they dated back to the mid 1700s, and were hand written on parchment, in a beautiful script, and it seemed a shame to throw them out.
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Old 14th Nov 2020, 13:06
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Originally Posted by Hydromet View Post
Don't know about the UK, but I suspect it's the same or similar to here. Hire a registerd/chartered/licenced cadastral surveyor To check the boundaries. He will check the plan deposited with the Land Titles Office, and place pegs to re-establish the correct boundaries.
No he won't. He will do all that, whilst not making a blind bit of difference to the OP. Going through it now, helping my sis with the k nob next door.

1. The LR boundary is approximate. There is no 100/200/500 or 1000 mm 'leeway'. It is just approx.
2. If the OP's neighbour is claiming he stole some land and he wants it back, he can't. Look up adverse possession. Rans has used the land thinking it his, in full view of his neighbour for yonks (over 12). There is no way the neighbour is winning that AP case.
3. Unless the neighbour agrees, a survey will do nothing. He can/will ignore it.

Veep sums it up as usual, and I recognise all this from our case. Having seen her spend 200 per letter, I'd go via my (specialist boundary dispute) solicitor, straight to an offer of a simple boundary agreement* (LR website); with the threat of AP if they don't agree. Close it off quick. Watch out for the neighbour representing themselves and stalling. It's free for them- ouch each time for you. Also watch out for the solicitor fancying a Perry Mason court case. Unless you're loaded and don't mind lol.

CG

* You can also go for a Determined Boundary, and that will fix it to within inches. But they have to agree; or a judge () has to say so. This route even if agreed in advance will still be expensive.

PS, useful reading here... https://www.gardenlaw.co.uk/phpBB2/v...93ad4daf8a515c

Last edited by charliegolf; 14th Nov 2020 at 13:20.
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Old 14th Nov 2020, 13:30
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Originally Posted by charliegolf View Post
No he won't. He will do all that, whilst not making a blind bit of difference to the OP. Going through it now, helping my sis with the k nob next door.

1. The LR boundary is approximate. There is no 100/200/500 or 1000 mm 'leeway'. It is just approx.
2. If the OP's neighbour is claiming he stole some land and he wants it back, he can't. Look up adverse possession. Rans has used the land thinking it his, in full view of his neighbour for yonks (over 12). There is no way the neighbour is winning that AP case.
3. Unless the neighbour agrees, a survey will do nothing. He can/will ignore it.

Veep sums it up, and I recognise all this from our case. Having seen her spend 200 per letter, I'd go via my solicitor, straight to an offer of a boundary agreement (LR website); with the threat of AP if they don't agree. Close it quick. Watch out for the neighbour replying themselves and stalling. It's free for them- ouch each time for you.

CG

CG
That's useful to know.

In the case of my Aunt, mentioned in the thread I linked to above, my late uncle's family had previously owned the all the land surrounding the present two bungalows my aunt now owns, and the land was used as commercial orchards. There were various fences in the orchards which can be seen on historic maps.

When most of the land was sold for development circa 1960, the plots seem to have followed the original fence lines except for one little enclave my uncle's father retained - he built a shed on it around 1970. Land registry shows the fence lines as originally marked on the OS maps, so the enclave is on the wrong side.

The house that might expect to lay claim to it has been occupied by the same family for some 30 years. The wife, who is Eastern European, was unfazed by the query I raised about the boundary line because the fence is down and on the her side there is a pile of very old bricks which looks typical of "Great Uncle's" "never throw anything away" policy, hence I wasn't sure where the fence ought to be - but what's left of it is probably in the correct place. However, she mentioned it to her ex-husband, now living in the US, who apparently promptly screamed "theft!" - well, sort of. Awoke a sleeping giant or pygmy or something...

It's all gone quiet and I think once I am allowed to travel again, I'll quietly re-erect the fence where it lies. Just needs some new posts...
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Old 14th Nov 2020, 13:43
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My son is buying a house on quite a large piece of land.
The entry on the land registry shows the boundary as we expect it to be.
Unfortunately the is another land registry entry showing a big part of the
plot being on another title. These things are not checked, so I have no idea
of the purpose of the land registry. My opinion a lot of UK Legal/Land purchase
is just a kind of horizontal Ponzi scheme designed to be a nice earner
for lawyers/surveyors/valuers/estate agents/local councils
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Old 14th Nov 2020, 13:46
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My view is that the Land Registry is just an expensive filing cabinet, that has zero function other than to store documents. They do absolutely nothing of any value, like basic error checking, and just take money from people in order for them to hold documents that may be partly or completely in error. A more useless public body would be very hard to find, IMHO.
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Old 14th Nov 2020, 13:48
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Originally Posted by esa-aardvark View Post
My son is buying a house on quite a large piece of land.
The entry on the land registry shows the boundary as we expect it to be.
Unfortunately the is another land registry entry showing a big part of the
plot being on another title. These things are not checked, so I have no idea
of the purpose of the land registry. My opinion a lot of UK Legal/Land purchase
is just a kind of horizontal Ponzi scheme designed to be a nice earner
for lawyers/surveyors/valuers/estate agents/local councils
I've also learned that a person can get an incorrect title fixed- haven't looked into that though. On the face of it, LR ARE interested in getting it right.

CG
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Old 14th Nov 2020, 15:17
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If you have Legal Protection in your house insurance this should cover the cost of legal advice and court fees relating to property disputes with neighbours.- but I may be wrong..
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Old 14th Nov 2020, 15:35
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A lot of similarity with a property I recently purchased. Even before completing the purchase I paid for a land surveyor to map it out since my property lot plan seemed to be abutting a wall on one side in the sales plot plan. That turned out to that the neighbor had erected that wall on his own and left a large gap on my side which of course I was happy to have.as a dog run. So I am willing to accept that if the wall ever comes down that neighbor gains that land gap up to my surveyed boundaries.

Then my neighbor on the other side claims ownership of trees that I want taken down to complete my view. across his land to a lake. My paid for documented survey shows the trees to be 6 inches on my side of the boundary. I'm not yet sure what I am going to do since he wants the trees left up. Should it be a buzz-saw at night and a court date later?

Yea I know he can plant his own trees but it will take at least 20 years of growth to block my views. Deed restrictions prevent us from building walls on that property line.
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Old 14th Nov 2020, 16:04
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Then my neighbor on the other side claims ownership of trees that I want taken down to complete my view. across his land to a lake. My paid for documented survey shows the trees to be 6 inches on my side of the boundary. I'm not yet sure what I am going to do since he wants the trees left up. Should it be a buzz-saw at night and a court date later?
lomapaseo, I would recommend that you sort out the boundary situation before any tree removal. There can be differences in surveys that are years apart as we discovered before having a fence installed. It seemed that the original survey depicted the neighbor's property border extending erroneously into what became our property resulting from the newer survey...

TD
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Old 14th Nov 2020, 16:40
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Originally Posted by Mike6567 View Post
If you have Legal Protection in your house insurance this should cover the cost of legal advice and court fees relating to property disputes with neighbours.- but I may be wrong..
Great point, BUT, contact them FIRST and get agreement or not. They are bu**ers for wriggling out. My sis is in dispute with hers because they were slow to respond, so she engaged a lawyer. They said that broke the Ts&Cs.

CG
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Old 14th Nov 2020, 17:05
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The very first thing to do is take copious photographs, from every angle you can - of how the situation is. If the boundary features in these photos are obviously old, all the better. You can't do this once they have been removed. So "evidence" the current state of play.

Any reasonable person would not knock someone else's fence down and just re-build it 3 or 4 feet in someone else's garden , so I would guess 19 times out of 20 you will be fine and they will build to the current physical boundary. If they don't then you have a decision to make...

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