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Hot Topic Highlight – RICS Consumer Guide Boundary Disputes in England and Wales

Updated: Oct 29, 2023

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What is today's blog about?

In this week’s blog, we take a look at the RICS Consumer Guide Boundary Disputes in England and Wales.

This is essential reading for any RICS APC and AssocRICS candidates or Chartered Surveyors who come across boundaries and boundary disputes in their professional work. It will also be of interest to anyone who is a homeowner or tenant of a rented property! You can also read our previous blog on RICS boundary guidance here.

Why did the RICS publish this Consumer Guide?

RICS published this Consumer Guide as boundary disputes can be expensive, emotionally charged and time consuming, particularly if they become litigious.

Disputes often arise when new boundary features are installed, boundary lines are not clear or a new structure is built close or up to a boundary. Party walls also need to be considered in these scenarios. You can find out more about these in our previous blogs.

In most cases, we cannot choose who our neighbours are and irrespective of any disputes, we often have to continue living next to them – so having a good understanding of the law and basic principles is essential.

What do boundaries look like?

Boundaries take many physical forms, including:

  • Fences

  • Walls

  • Hedges

  • Edging stones

  • Building walls/edges

  • Roads

  • Ditches

  • Rivers

What considerations would you make regarding boundaries pre-acquisition?

Understanding a property’s boundaries during the pre-acquisition and conveyancing processes is essential.

This will partly be the role of the solicitor or conveyancer, but there is also some basic due diligence that you can undertake as a surveyor (or for your own property purchases):

  1. Review a copy of the Land Registry Title Register and Title Plan, the latter of which will include a red line denoting the general site boundaries. This will not include the physical boundary features, exact position or legal course. It only costs £3 per copy document (in PDF format) so there is no excuse not to check it, or you can request a copy from your legal advisor.

  2. Take a copy of the Title Plan to site and compare it to what you can see on the ground, through inspection and walking the site boundaries. This will identify any differences in the boundary lines or physical structures on site.

  3. Other useful documents to check will be the full title deeds, historical documents and aerial photographs.

  4. Engage with the neighbouring property owners to identify the boundaries and maintenance liabilities. You can also check the Property Information Form TA6 for residential purchases for further clarification on this point. If the boundaries or liabilities are not clear, then these need to be agreed (ideally in writing). Any work to boundaries or the erection of new boundary features should be consulted on beforehand.

  5. If the property sits adjacent to a public highway or right of way, then the Local Highway Authority should be contacted for clarification of this boundary.

How can we help?

Stay tuned for our next blog post to help build a better you.

N.b. Nothing in this article constitutes legal, professional or financial advice.


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