The onset of winter normally leads to strong winds and rain. Adverse weather may damage boundary features, such as fences, hedges and walls, so you need to know who owns the boundary feature and consequently, who has responsibility for repair and maintenance. This will enable you to avoid any potential disputes.
So, who’s responsible?
It may be possible to identify who is responsible for maintaining a boundary feature by reviewing the title documents filed at the Land Registry.
The most common indicator of responsibility for a boundary feature is a ‘T’ mark and it will make life a lot easier if these are included on the title plan. The ‘T’ mark will touch the boundary line over which the obligation exists and will face inwards towards the property which owns the boundary and/or has the responsibility to maintain it.
Unfortunately, where registered land is concerned, the Land Registry does not always reproduce ‘T’ marks on the title plans. Boundary ownership and responsibility for maintenance may only be apparent by reviewing the pre-registration title documents sent to the Land Registry on first registration, assuming these are still available.
Irrespective of Land Registry practice, ‘T’ marks are not always used when land is transferred which can lead to problems.
A good way of preventing disputes is to agree ownership of the boundary feature with your neighbour before carrying out any repair or maintenance. In a case where it is unclear who owns the boundary feature, a happy middle way may be to agree to share the cost of repair or maintenance.
Alternatively, where it has been possible to agree ownership of boundaries with a neighbour, you can put this on a more formal footing by entering into a boundary agreement. This can then be sent to the Land Registry which will note this on the title registers to avoid potential future disputes.
So think ahead and make sure you’re not caught out when the March winds are blowing!
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