How do I know which boundary to maintain?

Boundary disputes can quickly become a costly problem if not dealt with properly. Contact our boundary disputes expert Aileigh Brough at Meaby&Co for advice: abrough@meaby.co.uk or call 020 7703 5034.

The responsibility for maintenance of the boundaries of your property is a question which often arises during the conveyancing process, and even more commonly several months or years later.  We often have clients contacting us some time after completion to discuss their boundaries – perhaps a fence has blown down, or a neighbour has approached them to contribute towards maintenance of a boundary between the properties.

The answer, with registered land at least, is to be found in the title deeds, or more correctly the Land Register which is an electronic record held by HM Land Registry detailing the ownership of all registered land, and which also details all rights and obligations noted against registered land.

In a straightforward case, the title register will contain a note stating which boundaries are to be maintained by the property in question – if you have purchased a freehold property, you may have seen the plans with inward-facing “T” marks on the boundary lines to denote the responsibility for maintenance.

Unfortunately it is frequently the case that the register is silent as to the ownership and/or maintenance of boundaries.  Where do you go from here?  Unfortunately, there is no real answer.

It is often assumed by property owners that they are responsible for their left-hand boundary (as you look at the property from the street) – this is however a common misconception as there is no legal basis for this assumption.  In the event of a dispute between neighbours, the ruling party, usually the First Tier Tribunal, might look at the history of the maintenance of the boundary in question, to see if one party has effectively assumed responsibility over time.  That may however be difficult to prove.

The easiest assumption to make, if you have a shared boundary with another property and if your title register is silent, is that you share responsibility and costs with your neighbour.  Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone could just co-operate like that?  We live in hope, but human nature suggests that it won’t always be such plain sailing.  Meaby&Co are here to assist if you do require advice on your boundaries or indeed if you fall out with your neighbour over your fence repairs.

If you are buying or selling a property, please contact Andy Roscoe at Meaby&Co for advice: andy@meaby.co.uk or call 020 7703 5034.

In the event of a boundary dispute, please contact Aileigh Brough at Meaby&Co for advice: abrough@meaby.co.uk or call 020 7703 5034.

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