Your Registered Title may not be your Legal Boundary

The Issue

There’s a lot of confusion about boundary plans and what they actually show. The terminology doesn’t help much and only adds to the general confusion. The plans that are used when we buy and sell property only indicate the boundary line and don’t necessarily define it. All of this comes to light only when we have to investigate the title to a property. This could include a poorly defined property boundary in rural area, but is just as common in a closely packed urban housing estate. So what is the story with property plans and how relevant are they?


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A few definitions.

The Title Register and Title Plan are the main official documents for 80% of properties within England & Wales. The Register gives an up to date record of who legally owns the land and other details of charges or covenants relating to it.

The Title Plan shows an outline of the property and its location in relation to adjoining properties and is usually derived from Ordnance Survey mapping. The Title Plan has a red line which delineates the General Boundary rather than the Legal Boundary. It is intended for guidance only.

The Legal Boundary is the line that divides one person’s land from another’s. It is an exact line but is notional with no thickness and is not visible. The exact positions of the legal boundaries are almost never shown on registered title plans and are not shown on Ordnance Survey maps.


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So where does that leave us and where’s my boundary?

Due to the difficulties in precisely defining the legal boundary on the ground, the vast majority of land registered in England and Wales is registered with General Boundaries only. This means that the plans that you have may give a false impression of where the true boundary exists on the ground and doesn’t take into account any regular change in the use of the land or installation of fences and walls, which may over time become legally binding in their own right. It’s also very difficult at times to accurately relate plan to ground, because of say an unusually shaped boundary feature. So be wary about making assumptions based upon your title plan.

The Solution

So if you and your neighbour have a boundary issue, or you are concerned about your boundary line then there’s only one practical solution. Instruct an expert surveyor to physically survey the boundary and assess it against the Title Plan and any Deeds and advise you. If in dispute with a neighbour then we recommend jointly instructing an expert surveyor to arbitrate an agreement; potentially saving money, time and your relationship!

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Should you need advice on your boundary then please don’t hesitate to contact us at Technics Group.