The Party Wall etc Act 1996

Land Registry Plans & Boundary Disputes

The Party Wall etc Act 1996

Since the Party Wall etc Act 1996 came into force, homeowners in England and Wales have had a procedure to follow when building work involves a party wall or party fence wall or when excavating within three metres (and in some circumstances six metres) from the neighbouring property. The Party Wall etc Act 1996 covers all properties in England and Wales of whatever nature including detached, semi-detached and terraced houses, bungalows, conversions and purpose built flats.

The Act is designed to minimise disputes by making sure property owners use a surveyor to determine the time and way in which work is carried out. You can use an 'agreed surveyor' to act for both property owners should problems arise.

The Act allows you to carry out work on - or next to - a shared wall, and to carry out excavations for foundations close to a neighbouring property.

By the Building Owner and the Adjoining Owner appointing either their own surveyors or an agreed surveyor, the Act protects both parties or anyone else who might have an interest in the properties.

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What doesn't the act cover?

The Act doesn't cover everyday minor jobs that don't affect the neighbours' half of a party wall including, for example: 

Fixing rawl plugs, screwing in wall units or shelving, adding or replacing some recessed electrical wiring or sockets, replastering walls

Land Registry Plans & Boundary Disputes

Because of the complex nature of land records, and the absence of precise boundaries on most title deeds, a Chartered Surveyor is often required to help solve disputes by pursuing several lines of enquiry, including investigating historical documents, physical features of the land and all the available legal documents.  They will then be able to compile technical evidence to prove who owns the land. Usually this will solve the dispute, but if both parties still disagree the surveyor may act as an expert witness in court, which means they will provide the technical evidence and advice required for the court to make a decision.

What can we do for you?

Under the Land Registration Act 2002, boundaries can now be determined with precision. Upon resolving a dispute, your surveyor will prepare an accurate plan for submission to the Land Registry. This document will no longer be subject to the general boundaries rule, and the boundary line shown will be legally binding.

  

Sometimes there is not enough evidence to determine who owns a particular boundary. In these instances, the boundary is regarded as belonging to both adjoining property owners and is known as a party boundary.

 

The lines on Ordnance Survey maps are also too vague to be used for legal procedures. They follow the UK’s ‘general boundaries rule’, which means the title plan only has to show a physical boundary in relation to a landscape feature such as a hedge or stream and does not have to define the precise legal border. There is a widely held belief that the way a boundary structure is constructed dictates who the land belongs to, for example, fence posts will be on the side of the land that has ownership of the fence. However, there is no legal foundation for this, unless the rule is specifically mentioned in the deeds.

Boundary disputes arise when there is uncertainty surrounding who owns areas of land between two properties. Sometimes disagreements are easy to resolve, however, it is often difficult to find legal documents that accurately show where the precise boundary of a plot of land lies. Unfortunately, the boundary lines shown on maps held by the Land Registry often only show an approximate location of the boundary and are usually not precise enough to resolve a dispute. Occasionally inverted ‘T’ marks on a boundary diagram indicate which side is responsible for the boundary structure, but unless they are referred to in the deeds submitted for land registration (and they usually are not), they will not be included on the boundary map.

Urban Garden

\In Professional Practice since 2007

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If you would like one of our team to contact you regarding your building requirements fill out our form on the contact page and someone will be in touch as soon as possible to answer your queries