Boundaries of plots of land


Guide to the law on boundaries in England and Wales. Please click on the graphic to enlarge it.


Basic Land Law: civil  Boundaries of plots of land.  It’s understandable that boundaries are rarely defined precisely:   the law has to allow for the fact that fences, hedges and even walls may need to be replaced over time, and that a replacement – if there is one –  may not be in exactly the same position, accidentally or otherwise.   Our Live Law video gives an example of how this can happen.  Boundaries are thus a fertile source of neighbour disputes.  These sometimes relate to very small amounts of land;  just narrow strips along the boundary.  Judges often criticise feuding neighbours for spending large sums on legal disputes about boundaries, when little seems to be at stake.

Yet such comments are not always fair.  Depending on the layout of the plot in question, losing even a small amount of land at the boundary may causes serious problems, for example with access.  And why should the owner of land meekly submit to the loss, when land is such an expensive commodity?  Given the usual lack of precise boundaries, disputes are understandable.  But a knowledge of the law should help prevent them, and solve them when they arise.

Questions answered in this Live Law file.  How the Land Registry’s plans show “general boundaries”, which are not exact.  What plans in title deeds to land mean.  The way in which the law makes use of legal presumptions, relying on features such as ditches and fences, to decide issues relating to boundaries where there is no hard evidence.  How a right to land can be acquired by “adverse possession”.   Ways in which neighbours can settle disputes about boundaries to plots of land, including boundary agreements registered with the Land Registry.

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