Can a developer draw up a new boundary for land adjoining mine?
Property Clinic: Your property questions and queries answered
If it is a party hedge your neighbour should not remove the boundary feature. Photograph: iStock
I have a small house and garden and have lived there all my life. Recently a developer purchased a large field to the rear of the garden hedge. It is their intention to develop the field into a large housing estate (planning has been granted). I am worried because their engineer came out and determined where our exact boundary is. I do not know if it is right or not and I am concerned because some of the points set out do seem to fall in and out through some quiet mature trees within the hedgerow. Can the developer remove the hedgerow and build a wall? Do I need to accept the points as set out or can I have them checked? If so who can help me?
A chartered geomatics surveyor is best placed to assist you in this situation, however they will require the assistance of your solicitor to provide some essential material in order to form an opinion.
The starting point for any surveyor when requested to assist with matters such as yours is to complete a thorough measured survey or “ground truth” survey of the plot in question. The surveyor will pay attention to the boundary that you share with your neighbour, measuring the position of the integral items that form the boundary. Items may include things such as the position of mature trees and fencing posts.
To determine where the exact boundary is, it is recommended that the parties exchange information including where they consider the boundary to be, together with the necessary supporting documentation, for each to review. The historic conveyances, pertaining to the plots, need to be sourced and considered. Your solicitor will check the title and the deed map[s] will be confirmed by the surveyor.
With ownership comes the question of maintenance. You have not said if you have maintained the hedgerow or not. If both parties have each maintained their respective side of the hedgerow, it does seem as though it may have been treated in a party-like manner, but that will need to be qualified. Such a scenario may lead to the possibility of adverse possession or boundary agreements needing to be considered.
Also, if it is a party hedge your neighbour should not remove the boundary feature, under any circumstances, without your consent.
Unilaterally imposing an exact boundary location in the absence of a determined boundary is not appropriate as it cannot be done with absolute certainty and may of course be rebutted.
A boundary issue is not in the best interests of either you or your neighbour, as spatial certainty will benefit you both equally. If you and your neighbour cannot reach agreement, you may wish to consider some form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process, suitable for boundary matters.
Mediation is a form of ADR that is non-binding, up until the point of agreement. The mediator will facilitate you and your neighbour in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement that is capable of implementation. Your solicitor and surveyor will further assist you and your neighbour in perfecting the position of the newly-agreed boundary with the Property Registration Authority of Ireland (PRAI) so as this uncertainty cannot arise again in the future.
Sarah Sherlock is a chartered geomatics surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie