The Default Boundary Rule
There is no ‘standard’ rule relating to the maintenance of boundary structures that is legally binding on property owners in the UK. Boundary structures are fences, hedges, garden walls or any other physical feature which act to separate one property from another.
There are 2 very important details that you need to be aware of, which are discussed more fully below:
- The Land Registry does not decide who owns/is responsible for boundary structures; and
- You may find that you are not responsible for any of the boundary structures around your land, and ownership of the structures cannot be determined from the deeds.
The Legal Position on Boundary Maintenance
The legal position is that a property owner is only obligated to maintain boundary structures where there is a covenant in the deeds to this effect. Importantly, this means that the title documents for your property will only tell you whether you are responsible for any of your boundary structures. They will not tell you whether anyone else (i.e. adjacent property owners) is responsible for those boundary structures.
The Land Registry’s Role in Determining Boundary Maintenance Responsibility
It is not the Land Registry’s role to decide who owns a boundary structure, or who is responsible for maintaining it; the original builder/developer of a property decides which boundary features will be the responsibility of the property owner (if any), and inserts covenants into the deeds to reflect that. All the Land Registry can do is inform you of any obligations which already exist.
How to Find Boundary Maintenance Obligations Using Your Title Deeds
To see all applicable restrictive covenants, you will need the title register, title plan and any filed deeds registered against the property. You will get all of these documents in the Comprehensive Title Deeds package.
>> In purchasing your documents, you must accept the risk that the your title documents may simply contain no boundary structure information and no maintenance covenants, so the only information you will learn from them is that you are not obligated to maintain any boundary structures. As we have no control over the contents of deeds, no refunds can be provided where there is no boundary structure information and no maintenance covenants.<<
What it Means if The Title Deeds Contain No Boundary Maintenance Obligations
Where a property does not have any boundary structure maintenance covenants imposed, we would advise discussing the issue with the adjacent property owners and coming to some form of amicable agreement (which can be on any terms the parties see fit). It is then a good idea to have a solicitor record any such agreement in writing and file the same with the Land Registry so that future disputes are prevented.