Legal News | 8.01.24
Determining ownership of boundaries when buying a property
It is a common misconception that there are legal ‘rules’ as to which boundaries a property is responsible for. The adage that the boundary on the left, or on the side with the fencing posts, has no basis in law. So, how will you know which boundaries, if any, will be yours to maintain when you buy a property?
The property seller will provide several pieces of information for this purpose, starting with the deeds. If the property is registered, copies of any deeds held by Land Registry, or the Title Register containing a summary of their contents, will have been provided by the seller’s solicitor. If a property is, unusually, yet to be registered, the original deeds are likely to be available.
Most useful will be deeds for properties on estates, where a developer often either allocates ownership or a boundary or identifies those to be shared (i.e. to be maintained at equal expense between neighbours). A boundary belonging to a property is often marked on a deed plan with a ‘T’ (an inward ‘T’ meaning the property owns the boundary, a ‘T’ on either side of a boundary line showing shared responsibility).
Land Registry will also provide a Title Plan for registered properties, showing the boundaries outlined in red. The Plan may contain some information relevant to boundary ownership, although this is unusual.
Most importantly, you should receive a copy of the standard Property Information Form (a TA6) completed by the seller. This form asks for the seller to confirm their understanding of ownership. They may also reveal if ownership of a boundary feature has changed. This can happen if one party takes responsibility by, say, replacing a boundary fence or hedge. Neighbours may also choose to share maintenance of a boundary between them, even if that was not originally the arrangement. In the absence of information in the deeds, the seller’s disclosure in this form will usually be the most reliable indicator.
Finally, in addition to the information provided, it is a good idea to speak with the neighbours before making major changes.
If you would like further guidance, or if you are looking for a conveyancer to handle your purchase, please contact our Residential Property team at email@example.com | 01380 733367.