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If you have a shared boundary that needs replacing, who is responsible?

One issue that can cause a problem relates to a shared boundary. There are many occasions when neighbours have a shared boundary and whether it is a wall, fence, bush or some other divider between their properties, if a problem arises, it is often difficult to find a quick and easy resolution to the problem.

First of all, the majority of land in England and Wales are registered with general boundaries outlined in the document. There should have been a title plan created by HM Land Registry but this only provides the general property boundaries. You may get lucky in that a previous owner may have determined the exact boundaries but if not find, you may not receive much assistance in determining who is responsible for the repair of a shared boundary.

You can create a boundary agreement if one doesn't exist

It is possible to make a boundary agreement if you and the neighbour can decide on the matter. If there are no existing agreements with respect to the boundary, it is possible to make an agreement on the new boundary. In doing so, it is of benefit to have a copy of the boundary agreement, ensuring that it has been signed by all parties. The agreement can include boundary features, such as hedges, walls or fences, and the fact that there are no laws governing the ownership of these features, this is something that can be added into the boundary agreement that you set up. When setting up a boundary agreement, it makes sense to have as much information and documentation available before you begin the process. This can include registry documents, the title plan and any other relevant documentation. You should be able to obtain information relating to neighbouring properties from HM Land Registry. You should also look to enlist the services of a surveyor to create a detailed plan, which should then be sent to the HM Land Registry.

You may need guidance from a higher legal power

Of course, the ability to draw up a boundary agreement isn't much use if an issue arises and there is a disagreement on the boundary. If there is a disagreement regarding the boundary, HM Land Registry has the power to refer the on-going dispute to the First Tier Tribunal. This is where a decision will be made on any boundary and what has to occur to resolve the issue. This may lead to you having to attend a hearing in order to have the case resolved. This may sound like a lot of hassle and effort to resolve a dispute regarding a shared boundary, but this is the sort of issue that can become very important for homeowners. If there is no option to find an amicable solution, which should always be the first aim, legal guidance is likely to be the option that will provide a solution to the problem. This may not be the solution that a homeowner is looking for but that is the risk that is sometimes taken when disagreeing about boundaries and ownership.

Published on 28 April 2017

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