Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: September 2010

Here is some useful advice on boundary disputes from Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, taken from their free guide booklet.  Certainly worth reading if you have a boundary dispute. Full link to the original document is at the bottom of this blog.
What is a boundary?

Land Registry records the general position of the boundaries in each registered title using an adapted large scale Ordnance Survey plan.This title plan may not accurately represent the true ground positions of the boundaries. The Land Registration Act 2002 allows you under certain conditions to determine and record the exact line of your boundaries on a registered title, to avoid any future boundary dispute. But what happens, for instance, if a neighbour complains a new wall is overlapping their land, or their new extension takes up part of a pathway between your houses? A minor disagreement can quickly become a full-scale dispute involving solicitors’ letters and threats of court action. Even more damaging are the costs involved. Ultimately, the cost of protecting your right to land in court could be 50 or 100 times as much, so it pays to think hard before rushing into legal action.

What should you do?

Get a specialist to look at all aspects of the problem and advise on whether or not you have a case. Chartered surveyors specialising in boundaries are professional advisors with relevant knowledge of both property issues and the law. They will look at the problem, prepare any technical data that may help solve the dispute at an early stage and, if necessary, provide a court with the appropriate advice and information needed to make a judgement. They will also advise on alternative dispute resolution procedures, which would avoid the need to go to court.

Accurately identifying the boundary

Accurately identifying the boundary between two properties often requires specialist knowledge. The red line drawn around a property on the Land Registry plan only shows the general boundary. It does not identify whether the boundary runs along the centre of a hedge or along one side of it. Ordnance Survey maps are equally unreliable because, as part of the mapping process, they do not mark exact property boundaries. So a line surrounding the property is not necessarily the property boundary. A chartered land surveyor will not only survey the land, check deeds and the plans attached to them, but will refer to historical documents and aerial photographs.

A boundary can change over time for many reasons: a diverted water course, or a wooden fence that moves slightly every time it is replaced. The reason for such changes is rarely recorded and can lead to disputes, especially if the owner has lost the right to move the boundary line back to its original position.

Dealing with disputes

The key to resolving a dispute speedily and successfully is to seek expert advice as soon as possible. In the first instance, this advice can be from either a chartered land surveyor or a chartered surveyor specialising in boundary disputes. Before you ask an expert to work on your behalf, check the following:

• Do they specialise in boundary work?

• Do they have experience of mapping and land surveys?

• Are they skilled at interpreting aerial photographs?

• Are they familiar with the latest civil procedure rules and experienced in preparing reports for court?

• Do they have experience as an expert witness in court and, if so, how many court appearances have they made in the last year?

If you can settle the matter before going to court, or if the court defines a boundary line and writes an order, the chartered land surveyor will mark out your boundary line. They may supervise any fencing or building contractors to make sure there are no further arguments. Ensure they prepare a new plan, to the required specification, showing the agreed boundary line for submission to the Land Registry as a determined boundary

Call the RICS Boundary disputes helpline

0870 333 1600

The helpline will put you in touch with an experienced local RICS member who will provide you with up to 30 minutes free advice.

RICS Neighbour Dispute Service

Call +44 (0)20 7334 3806

Fax +44 (0)20 7334 3802


The RICS Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) provides access to a specialist panel of expert Chartered Surveyors with experience of resolving neighbourly boundary disputes. This can involve expert determination of the boundary and mediation of a dispute. Therefore, you do have an alternative to formal litigation if any doubt or uncertainly exists between parties on the correct boundary line.

The full booklet can be found on the RICS Website


Cutting down hedges, planting trees and moving fences often give rise to boundary disputes. They are the most frequent cause of bad feelings between neighbours although most of the time they can be resolved quickly and cheaply.  Here are three steps taken from, who can provide some of the documents needed when involved in a boundary dispute.  Remember that have the largest collection of aerial photos available for helping with boundary dispute resolution.

Step 1 Title Deeds: An eminent Judge of the House of Lords has recently stated that an examination of the title deeds is the first port of call. You cannot even begin to resolve your dispute without examining all available registered title deeds for each property.

Step 2 Presumptions:  There are certain legal presumptions that apply in the absence of contrary agreement. These must be considered. Any contrary agreement would normally be contained in the title deeds, so the two must be considered together.

Step 3 Aerial Photo:  Aerial photographs of the property should be obtained, if possible, as sometimes it is necessary to examine the position of physical features on the ground and compare them to descriptions in the deeds. It is often preferable to have more than one photo to either back each other up, or show that a boundary has moved.

If necessary:  If the three steps above do not help you settle your dispute you may have to instruct a surveyor, or apply to the court. You will still need several documents however, including the Property Register, Title Plan, all Registered Old Style Deeds, the Lease, as well maps, aerial photos and a list of legal presumptions.

It can be a very upsetting process, and if you need help – we are here.