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Can A Surveyor Determine A Boundary

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  • 17-08-2022
Can A Surveyor Determine A Boundary

This article asks: can a surveyor determine a boundary? We look at getting professional help with a boundary dispute and what happens during a legal boundary survey.

Boundary disputes over property lines are a common topic in the United Kingdom. When line boundaries are unclear, they lead to disputes that may cost a property owner more money than necessary.

It can be hard to know what steps to take to avoid disputes and prove where property line boundaries are but read ahead for some advice, tips, and explanations on whether a surveyor can determine a property borderline. One of the solutions to resolving unclear property line boundaries is to have a land survey for proof of land.

Defining and Identifying Property Line

What do land surveys do?

A land survey can serve many purposes, showing a variety of details of your land and its boundaries. They are similar to having a detailed ordinance survey map with measurements of the area surrounding your property. You can use a land registry title plan or map to prove land ownership and, therefore, a person's right within specified boundaries.

Even when they are not in a dispute, some people request land surveys because ordinance survey maps are for confirming boundary lines on your land and are useful during house sales.

When is it necessary to get a land surveyor?

When buying land or property, you may find yourself in need of a land surveyor's help to know what you precisely own. They are often required when someone cannot find their land registry title plan for their property.

A land survey will describe the exact boundary line and what the area includes, which are what a bank or trust may ask for before granting any mortgages.

A land survey can help you settle any neighbour disagreements. You may find yourself involved in a property boundary dispute if a party wants to erect a fence that is taller than the other party's preference.

A land survey will determine your legal permits and rights and clarify who is responsible for paying for fence replacements.

You may be entitled to fell a tree if it is dangerous or inconvenient to you, particularly if its roots will or are causing damage to your property.

Can A Surveyor Determine A Boundary?

These surveys can help you find out whether or not you are entitled to felling a tree, although it may be that you are only in charge of its maintenance. You may also require a land surveyor to survey your property if you are wanting to build an extension, alter your home, or change the area surrounding your property. A survey will ensure that your project does not encroach on anyone's property but yours.

Where can I find a land surveyor?

You can find a list of registered land surveyors on the CICES, CIOB, and RICS respective websites.

The latter, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), promote professional qualifications and the highest standard in the management and development of land, real estate, infrastructure, and construction. Finding a skilled, local, and fully accredited surveyor is vital to get a legal, correct, and thorough survey.

Getting property lines surveyed in a dispute

Once you have talked with the other party in the dispute about the situation and have provided documentation where possible, you have both established that you want to resolve the dispute. From there, you should source an accredited chartered land surveyor to settle your dispute informally.

This may resolve your issues without any legal action. It would be wise to familiarise yourself with the Boundary Disputes Protocol because having a dispute with a neighbour can quickly become less amicable. This protocol helps you understand the process of boundary disputes before legal actions are taken.

Once familiarised, you will understand why having your property lines surveyed is key to settling disputes quickly and safely. In most cases, this will resolve all conflicts to do with property boundary lines.

However, if it does not, you may want to consider having an impartial mediator to find a solution when communication between the two parties has been broken. If the mediator cannot resolve the problem, you may consider legal action.

Getting Professional Help with a Boundary Dispute

The last thing you should do is assume that a land surveyor can solve all your problems with your land and resolve disputes with your neighbours. There are many things a boundary surveyor can do. What they cannot do is tell your neighbour where your boundary lines are or what is wrong with them.

Many people have false expectations of what their surveyor can achieve due to a lack of knowledge of land law. Despite people's theories, there is no government agency with the responsibility of deciding where property boundaries should be.

A landowner creates a boundary when dividing their land to sell the divided part of it. There are no legal requirements for a vendor to decide which line to divide their land before selling part of it. The landowner or their conveyancing solicitor or agent is responsible for describing the boundary.

The description of the boundary is usually in the Parcels Clause of an accompanying plan. This description is in the deed that accompanies the first sale of the land. This would be a conveyance for unregistered land, meaning that the deed is a part transfer, but only if the parent parcel of land is registered before its division.

The boundary surveyor's traditional role in boundary disputes was to assist a court by interpreting an accurate plan named the Paper Title Boundary.

This plan was the description of the boundary in the deed that divided the vendor's land. The surveyors also supported this accurate interpretation by giving an expert's report and oral evidence in court. Leading boundary surveyors offer early neutral evaluations of a boundary dispute's technical issues, requiring a barrister to make an impartial evaluation of the legal arguments. 

A boundary surveyor may assist in resolving a boundary dispute in a few ways. One of the ways is by a surveyor being trained as an arbitrator, who decides where the boundary is. This process can be treated as an informal hearing. Some surveyors can also offer expert determination and decide where to legally bind the boundary's true position to then settle the dispute.

The third method is that some surveyors are trained as mediators, who can facilitate a negotiation between the two parties in which all issues are discussed amicably and settled by negotiation.

The result of a mediation can be a clarification of the boundary and its exact location or a move of the boundary location to settle the dispute. In all of the above situations, the disputing parties agree to submit to the particular method. These alternative resolution methods are different from litigation methods, which are initiated by one of the parties.

Litigations can be expensive, superfluously bitter, and time-consuming. Alternative dispute resolutions are less slow, expensive, and time-consuming than litigations but can be burdensome to create if one or two parties do not agree with the surveyor's methods.

An amicable settlement of a boundary dispute is preferable over litigations or alternative dispute resolutions because amicable settlements are only achieved when both the disputing parties are willing to engage each other without animosity. 

What Type of Land Survey do you need?

Having a dispute with your neighbour over your property boundaries is very common, especially when fences shift and hedge rows grow. The primary fear homeowners have is losing part of their land in these disputes. There are no special meanings for the word 'boundary' in law. However, it's known in land ownership in two categories.

The Physical Boundary:

The physical boundary is a registered title and one of these categories. It does not show ownership of individual boundary structures such as fences, hedges, and walls. If you are planning to build or construct anything on your property, you would need to measure your physical boundary to ensure you do not go beyond these such lines.

The Land Registry may have a copy of the property's deeds that pertains to a boundary declaration or agreement or the ownership or maintenance of boundaries.

The Legal Boundary:

The second type of boundary is a legal boundary. As the title suggests, this boundary is a legally known one. It is typically an invisible line that divides one person's land from another's and can fall upon physical boundary features such as fences, hedges, and walls, but not always. It deals with the precise separation of land ownership.

The exact positions of legal boundaries are never on registered title plans, but a land surveyor can provide an accurate legal boundary survey.

What happens during a Legal Boundary Survey?

You can hire a land surveyor to perform a legal boundary survey. In this survey, they measure and locate the current legal boundaries.

They will investigate all source data by measuring the property boundaries using laser measuring devices and tape measures and delivering a report of floor, title, site plans, original title deeds, and original registered plans.

You will need to research and contact the solicitor that acted on your behalf to purchase your current Register of Title from the Land Registry.

Providing as much information as you can ensures the accuracy and speed of a legal boundary survey.

What Happens During A Legal Boundary Survey?

Do you have questions about  resolving Boundary Disputes in Kent or the surrounding areas? Would you benefit from the advice of a qualified RICS surveyor? Follow the link below to find out more.