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GOV.UK - what we’re working on: June 2017

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Back-fences and an anniversary

I've been working for HM Land Registry for four years this month. My work anniversary makes me reflect on my role, and some tips that I have learned that could help homeowners. When I joined HM Land Registry I had no knowledge of land registration and a million questions to ask and in this blog I want to answer two of the big ones.

Useful tips about boundary issues

HM Land Registry cannot resolve boundary issues for you.

If you have a problem with a boundary, the simplest and most effective way to deal with it is to talk to your neighbour and try to reach an agreement before it becomes a legal dispute.

Damaged fence in a back garden, with a panel missing and the gap overgrown by plants.

We hear lots of myths about which boundary you are responsible for, such as "You always own the left (or right) side" or "If the fence is on your side, you own it" but every property, every boundary and every neighbour is different.

Your title deeds may have information or covenants about boundaries, but often they don't and the information may become out of date if neighbours decide to agree to a different arrangement. The title plan you can buy for £3 from our Find a property service will only show you the general position of the boundaries, because the legal boundary is an invisible line.

Useful tips about updating your details

For some life events, you can easily update property records yourself, for free:

  • if a joint owner of a property has died, use form DJP;
  • if you change your registered contact address, use form COG1; and
  • if you get married and change your name, use form AP1.

Our efforts to answer frequently asked questions

Recently, we've been exploring how we might help our customers find answers to frequent questions, while reducing the number of times they need to contact us. Our forms and processes are not always the easiest to complete or follow, because land and property ownership is a complex topic, and after four years I'm still learning!

I've been involved in some recent research and workshops involving a wide range of people from our enquiry handling teams, operational areas and callers and will be helping to move this piece of work forward. We are trying to improve things for customers, so watch this space!

Another frequently asked question is about the age of properties. We don't actually record the age of a building (it is never polite to ask a lady her age don’t you know), if you want to find out more we wrote a blog about it, How old is my house?

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  1. Comment by Andreas posted on

    You may come across to my situation many times but please guide me. My neighbour erected a new fence which is not straight thus encroaching to my land. He also erected a room at the end of his garden (which does not require planning permission) taking the full width of his garden. This new room is next to our garage which is also at the back of our garden. Our garage is not erected to the boundary line. The new fences he erected are encroaching to my land especially next to my garage. This was done deliberately so a way is left for him to come though the alleyway at the back of our houses to his garden. I cannot do any works even at my garage as he erected the fences in such a way by taking all my free space from my garage to his new room he erected. I have tried all ways and he is not willing to move to the original boundary as he has removed the old posts. I did not take pictures to prove this. Even with a naked eye however one can see clearly that the fences are encroached in my land. He erected the last 7 posts in a gradual way.

    • Replies to Andreas>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Andreas - whilst I appreciate the situation explained we cannot offer any advice or assistance as it is legal advice you need here if you and your neighbour cannot resolve the issues. If you are looking for wider comment then online forums such as Garden law can be useful resources as they air and discuss such matters on a regular basis. However you, your neighbour and the boundary/extension are all unique to you so it is very much legal advice you need

  2. Comment by JILL FRANCIS posted on

    Dear Adam, we are in a row of 5 houses with a path at the back of our houses. 3 of these houses own a section each of this path. A neighbour (who does not own any of the path) is applying for planning permission to build a house on the other side of this path, the back wall of which butts right up against this path.

    In building this wall footings are going to be needed which we think will mean damage to our path. Has the neighbour the right to do this without our permission. Should we be alerting someone in the Planning Department?

    • Replies to JILL FRANCIS>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Jill - very much one to get legal advice on or to contact the planning department to confirm next steps. If you are looking for wider online advice then forums such as Garden Law can be useful resources but it is very much legal advice you need here

  3. Comment by Lesley posted on

    Hi. We have a field and are responsible for the boundary fence. The woman who has the field next to us has horses and is complaining that the horses are coming through the fence and into our field. The fence is not in a massive state of disrepair, but as it's our boundary fence can she force us legally to replace the fence if we don't want to.

    • Replies to Lesley>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Lesley - not something we can advise you on as it is legal advice you need. I'd recommend speaking to a legal advisor as a result to understand the legal position and what rights you/the neighbour may have. If you are looking for wider online comment then public forums such as Garden law often discuss such matters and can be useful resources but it is legal advice on your specific circumstances you really need here

    • Replies to Lesley>

      Comment by lawyer posted on

      Given she has no legal right to refence why would you be so unneighbourly as not to repair your own fence? She would have a cause of action against you for negligence were anything to happen to her horses as a result of the fence not being repaired.

  4. Comment by sue posted on

    when we purchased the property two deeds for our property were presented. Both have our name on as being the owners, but the boundary line differs on each one. Does the deed with the most recent date supersede the first? If so, why would we be given two in the first place?

    • Replies to sue>

      Comment by ianflowers posted on

      Sue - sorry to raise what is probably an obvious point, but is the property registered under two separate title numbers? This is fairly common, for example, where the house is registered under one title and a garage another. If so, both will be current. If they relate to the same title number, then the edition date on the register should indicate the latest copy of the title record that you hold. Similar with the title plan - sometimes an updated edition of the title plan is prepared in which case the latest date will indicate the most up to date copy that you hold.

      • Replies to ianflowers>

        Comment by Sue posted on

        aaah thank you, that makes sense. They have 2 different title numbers. One must be for an old annex I think, which is now integral to the main house.
        Much appreciated Ian.

  5. Comment by Chris Vaughan posted on

    What are the best maps to look at when comparing the Title Plans against features on the ground? Thanks, Chris.

    • Replies to Chris Vaughan>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Chris - Ordnance Survey maps are the ones which show the physical features (not legal boundaries) on the ground as and when OS surveyed the area

  6. Comment by Claire posted on

    Hi sorry but I didn't know how to post a new thread. We are in dispute with our new neighbour, I spoke with him on 5 occasions letting him know that the boundary wall was on our deeds, he ignored me at each conversation then cut into the wall and erected a fence taking the section of our land into his garden, we have sent letters to ask him to sort the dispute but he is dragging his heels we asked the Rics dispute service for help but if he won't cooperate, what can we do. This is a very unpleasant experience.

    • Replies to Claire>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Claire - this is a blog rather than a forum so no threads, just comments. You need legal advice here. If you are looking for wider comment then online forums such as a Garden Law can be useful resources but it’s legal advice you need

  7. Comment by claire posted on

    Thankyou, we have got a Barrister, I am just feeling rather overwhelmed by the dishonest behaviour of the other party and why the fight for what is legally ours is so hard, if it was a car or a piece of jewellery the law is clear.
    Sorry again.?

    • Replies to claire>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Claire - there is no need to apologise. Such matters tend to come down to neighbour’s having to agree a way forward. If that can’t happen then only a judge can decide on what’s fair. But if course you and your neighbour have to decide on how far you wish to take it. Garden Law will give you some wider insight on that but remember that you, your boundary and your neighbour are all unique