Boundary agreement vs determined boundary – what’s the difference?

Clients often ask why an on the ground boundary differs to the red line on their land registry filed plan. The land registry’s plan is only indicative, whilst the on the ground line represents the legal boundary. For example, a historical hedge or the remains of an old fence line may prove the existence of a legal boundary.

On some occasions it is necessary to establish the boundary between you and your neighbour if the filed plan is not accurate. There are two ways with registered land that you can do this:

  1. A boundary agreement
  2. A determined boundary

Boundary agreements

A boundary agreement can deal with the position of the legal boundary as well as the maintenance of it.

It is presumed that a boundary agreement does not involve transferring any land between the two owners and therefore, you retain all of your land and your neighbour would retain all of theirs. It is also presumed that the agreed position is in line with the true position of the legal boundary. This type of agreement does not necessarily have to be put in writing.

Where the agreed position of the boundary differs from what is shown on the title plan, the agreement can only have identified the current position of the legal boundary if the agreed position is within the scope of the general boundaries rule.

The general boundaries rule says that where the boundary is outside of the scope of the registered title, as shown on the title plan, the land will not be removed from the title necessarily.

Alternatively, it is possible to enter into a boundary agreement whereby a transfer of land is involved. These agreements are always done in writing and it would mean that any strip of land that would then be on your neighbour’s side of the boundary is transferred to them and becomes their land. However, when this happens, a boundary agreement would give rise to you being under an obligation to transfer any of the land that falls on your neighbour’s side of the boundary to them if you are asked to do so.

A copy of the agreement and plan showing the agreed boundary would be also submitted so that any person inspecting the title to either of the properties in the future will know that this agreement is in place.

Determined boundaries

A determined boundary shows the exact line of the boundary of a registered estate and are used most when neighbours have a dispute over a boundary line. This is unlike the general boundary explained above. When a boundary is determined, H M Land Registry will make it apparent from the title register of both properties that the exact boundary has been determined and this will be marked on the title plan of each property.

To have a boundary determined, the best way to go about this is to apply for a determined boundary. This is most appropriate where there is an agreement between the neighbours.

Firstly, the boundary line needs to be identified by way of a plan which shows the surrounding physical features. The application will also need to identify all of the owners of any adjoining land.

Once the application is submitted, H M Land Registry will then have to satisfy that the exact line of the boundary has been identified and that all those affected have been given notice.

The Land Registry will only determine a boundary if there is sufficient evidence to support the application. Usually there is a site inspection and a surveyor is needed to produce a plan and further evidence.
Although a determined boundary is useful to solve a neighbourly dispute, it is not advised that they are used where your boundary differs slightly from the title plan, in that case a boundary agreement would be the better option.

How Moore Barlow can help

If you require advice in this area, or if you have a current boundary dispute with a neighbour, contact our expert team today.