Disputed boundaries cause mayhem. In the past, people fought over them. These days battles are fought in court, but newspapers periodically report on neighbours who resort to violence or spend more on lawyers than the land in question was worth.
Disputes can arise because of historical vagueness in the plans attached to the original conveyance. Generations of articled clerks copied earlier plans and marked boundaries with thick coloured pens.
Ewen Cameron, partner at solicitors Maples Teesdale, says that where there is uncertainty there are ? unless there is evidence to the contrary ? legal presumptions. A dividing road or path splits down the centre and waterways also divide in the middle.
Ditches are dug to the edge of the owner’s land and the digger will throw the spoil back onto his own land. Hedges are normally planted on your own land and will usually belong to one person. If there is no record of ownership it is presumed that the owner is the person who maintains it but, if both maintain it, there could be joint ownership.
The roots of the hedge are often presumed to be planted 3?4ft back from the boundary to allow maintenance, although local custom might differ: check at the local Public Records Office. Boundary features are often marked on a plan with a ‘T’, the crossbar of the T falling within the land of the owner.
In 2003, the Government introduced Land Registry legislation with ‘requirements’ for more detailed scale plans to be used. The registry now relies on the plans rather than the wording of the conveyance to describe the land.
A purchaser will now require a Registry-compliant plan. This is one more job for the vendor before marketing the property. If it does not meet the ‘requirements’, the Registry will reject it. www.landreg.gov.uk/legislation