My deed boundaries are different from the actual ones, how can I resolve this?
Property Clinic: My land’s boundaries are eight metres shorter than those on the map
A chartered geomatics surveyor will be able to provide a detailed report about your land. Photograph: iStock
I wish to register a site of just under 2 acres which is now surrounded by nine properties, including a garage/filling station, industrial units and houses, in a suburban area. When I checked my deeds I was surprised to see that while the general shape of the site, which is L-shaped, as shown on the deed map, is similar to what is on the ground, the boundaries – including the road frontage – have different lengths to the measurements on the map. Some are shorter and some longer, by up to 7m or 8m.
The boundaries with the adjoining properties comprise lengths of concrete block walls, built by the adjoining owners, and a palisade railing fence. The block walls and railing replaced an original hedge. How can I resolve the situation so that I can proceed to have my site registered?
The situation you have outlined is quite familiar to surveyors and solicitors who deal with boundary issues. Conflicts between physical boundary features and corresponding deed maps frequently arise after the removal of the original physical features during development works and their replacement with new features such as walls or fences.
To resolve the situation it will be necessary to provide your solicitor with as much information as possible in relation to the small plots of land created by the differences between the alignment of the boundary as shown on your deed map and the alignment of the boundary as determined by the walls and fence.
It will therefore be necessary to engage a chartered geomatics surveyor. In addition to a detailed survey of the boundary features, the surveyor’s brief should include the preparation of a map which clearly indicates the areas of the individual plots created by the conflicting boundary alignments. The brief should also include research of relevant records from other sources, including Land Registry maps and folios for adjoining properties, in addition to an estimate of the length of time the walls and fence have been in position. Historic aerial photographs may be useful. A report, prepared by the surveyor, setting out the significance of the survey and research findings, will be necessary.
You should then present your solicitor with the geomatics surveyor’s map and report, your deed and supporting documentation, and seek legal advice.
If the information supplied to your solicitor is detailed and complete, in as far as is possible, he/she will be better placed to advise you in relation to regularising the boundaries. It may be feasible to exchange plots with some of the adjoining property owners by means of deeds of rectification. If the plots are insignificant, it may not be economical to rectify them, provided there are no liability implications. If the research indicates that the physical boundaries are in place for more than 12 years, your solicitor will advise if adverse possession is likely to be an issue.
The resolution of the boundaries is likely to be a protracted process, with or without the co-operation of the adjoining property owners. You will, however, need to address it in order to avoid potential problems in the future. As your deed is the principal evidence of your title, it will be necessary to have matters resolved before it is submitted to the Land Registry for registration of your title. – Patrick Shine
Patrick Shine is a chartered geomatics surveyor, a chartered civil engineer and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie