Boundary in title deed does not accurately reflect physical boundary since division.

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    Boundary in title deed does not accurately reflect physical boundary since division.

    This is a question about purchasing part of a plot and then finding that the Title deeds do not accurately reflect the position of the boundary between the purchased part and part retained by the vendor. Any boundary markers were put in place after sale (the current one by me). It occurs over a period of more than 20yrs.

    I purchased a house from a company in 2001. The house was sold with only part of its original garden. An L shaped plot of land was retained by the vendor, wrapping around it on two sides. Imagine the original plot as a square and the house and it’s garden as a smaller square about 1/3 of the size sat in one corner of it. The entire original garden is surrounded by a wall and it was not physically divided at the time of viewing or at sale.

    In the course of the sale, after the original offer had been accepted, there was interest from another party and there was some upward negotiation on price which also involved discussion on the boundaries. I ended up paying considerably more but understood that I was purchasing a larger proportion of the plot including a large shed. It was a long drawn out purchase. I recall that when it came to signing, I asked my solicitor whether the boundary on the plan reflected the additional space and he said that it was only a guide rather than 100% accurate.

    The sale contract required the vendor to put in a post and rail fence on the boundary. About a year after purchase they did run a piece of wire on 2x2 posts which their gardening contractors almost immediately tangled and tore out whilst removing shrubbery. I never actually saw that in place as I was travelling but the remnants looked like they were in the correct place. I later replaced this with a low timber boundary marker (3x3 posts and rails) with a couple of openings.

    Immediately upon purchase I let the house out whilst I saved to refurbish it. I occupied the shed for storage. The tenants also used it for band practice. I moved into the house in 2003. Over the years I gradually refurbished the shed – new windows and doors, new roof, plasterboard lining, electric, new featherboarding, chimney. I have used it continuously. I also built a substantial ancillary shed about 15yrs ago.

    As mentioned above, the original whole garden is surrounded by a wall. The vendor is almost entirely absent and I have had exclusive use of and maintained the entire space – that which I own and that retained by the vendor. This was never an agreement but I have never pretended that I owned the whole plot – for instance I have contacted them a couple of times asking them to repair the perimeter fence. They always arrange access with me.

    In late 2012 an agent acting for the company which owns the retained land contacted me to arrange access and discuss their client’s wish to put a proper fence in place along our mutual boundary. They commissioned a tree survey and said that this found that the boundary marker was not consistent with what is depicted in the Title Plan. Turns out they are correct. The title plan shows the boundary as originally marketed without the additional area (approx. 20ft on two boundaries) and shed. I assured them that as far as I was concerned the marker is in the correct place and had been there fore years. We made several aborted arrangements to meet on site to discuss in detail but it never happened and I have not heard anything from them about this since. No fence was put up and my markers remain in situ (although rather rotten now). I have had contact with their management team on other matters and continue to occupy the entire plot exclusively.

    I now want to rebuild my shed (about 25sqm) from scratch but I am worried about the boundaries and status of the land. A planning application will likely alert the neighbour so I want to be prepared.

    I have very little documentation from the sale 20yrs ago and nothing showing evidence of the negotiations over price and boundaries. My solicitor was a family friend who was later disbarred, then died and the practice he was working for closed a few years ago so there is nothing I can get from them. I have a photocopy of a page from the valuation which mentions a shed and describes the boundaries as TBA but that is pretty much it. I can evidence with photos and witnesses that I have been using and maintaining the shed and the land.

    It’s beginning to dawn on me that taking my solicitor’s advice and signing off the plan in the sale contract may have been a very costly error. I am confident that my neighbour will argue that the boundary should revert to that shown in the title deed. Can anyone provide any advice on how to progress and what strategy I should use to maximise my chances of getting the title deeds amended to reflect the physical boundary on site, assuming my neighbour does not consent.

    (Obviously I know that this will need to be dealt with by appropriate solicitors – I am currently thinking it through).
    Assume I know nothing.

    I do not pretend to understand everything you have described above.

    I can only say that if you have had exclusive possession at acquiescence or without consent of land that is in addition to land contained on your title deed for 10-12yrs (depending on if the land is registered) you can apply to become the registered owner.
    Search Adverse Possession (squatters rights)

    if there would be less land as a result of the issues you describe you can decide to defend your property rights or change your land registry to make your physical boundaries match the paperwork.

    Sorry I’m not of more help.


      A nicely detailed account.

      The response can be fairly short and on the same lines as post 2. After the lapse of time the fences in place have come to represent the boundary. Either the general boundaries rule will apply or you can apply to be registered as proprietor of the "extra" land.

      Instructing "appropriate" solicitors is exactly what is needed and they may be difficult to find. To help you judge whether you are speaking to the right person I suggest you read these two threads:

      They will give you an intro into how things work. You can then browse this site which is very informative.


        Thank you both. That's a mammoth thread to plough through! (I should add - with lots of helpful info...)
        Assume I know nothing.


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