Our neighbour’s hedge doesn’t match the boundary shown on the deed map

Property Clinic: Corner houses without boundary walls are often contentious

Your objective from the outset should be to try to resolve the issue amicably with your neighbour. Photograph: Istock

Your objective from the outset should be to try to resolve the issue amicably with your neighbour. Photograph: Istock

 

We recently purchased a property which is 16/17 years old, is one of several semi-detached houses around a green, and occupies a corner plot. Since this purchase, and while trying to make plans for building work to the side and rear, we have become aware that the boundary as marked by our neighbour’s (2-metre high) hedge does not match that shown in the property folio map, nor indeed the photographs from last time the house was sold (2010).

We believe that he grew his hedge following the principle of the boundary following a straight line perpendicular to the house. However, we are fairly sure that this should not apply here, and indeed that it didn’t for the first several years of the house’s existence. Is there anything we can do? I’m attaching images of the old front view, the current front view, and the folio map. Note the line in the concrete across the pavement relative to the old and new boundaries.

Patrick Shine replies: The situation you have outlined and as supported by your before and after images, indicates a significant encroachment on your property. House properties around a green as you describe, or any such housing layout or corner houses which necessitate a narrower than standard width of frontage areas, and do not have boundary walls or fences, are frequently the subject of contentious boundary problems. Owners and purchasers of such houses are dependent on the assurance provided by a dimensioned deed map or clearly defined description of the extent of their properties in their deeds, to deal effectively with issues of encroachment.

You need to act without delay as possession of your property for 12 years would strengthen your neighbours claim for adverse possession. Irrespective of how you approach the issue, you will need to discuss it with your solicitor to ensure that you do not lose your legal title in the area concerned.

I suggest that you first approach your neighbour, explain your concerns about the boundary and provide him with copies of the before and after photographs and a copy of your Land Registry Folio map. Explain to him that the titles of both properties, as registered, are likely to be compromised due to the significantly altered boundary. Questions in relation to title would prove problematic in the event of a proposed sale of one or other property.

If your neighbour does not agree, without delay, to the removal of the hedge and to the recognition and marking of the correct location of the boundary by permanent marker posts or a fence, you will need to take action to reclaim your property. To adequately brief your solicitor, it is advisable to engage a chartered geomatics surveyor who will survey the relevant details, including the hedge, and prepare an accurate map.

They will superimpose the relevant data, based on information from photographs and the boundary line as registered, on the survey map and calculate the area of encroachment. However, the Land Registry map, by its nature, is non-conclusive in relation to the definitive position of the boundary. The advantage of a map prepared by a surveyor, with a short report outlining the survey findings, is that it provides your solicitor with a complete and true representation of the details, including the extent of the encroachment.

Your solicitor may decide to request the Land Registry Instrument which comprises the title documents submitted to register your title. Ideally, the Instrument should contain a deed map which would be definitive in relation to your property boundary. Your solicitor may not wait for the Instrument but will advise you.

Your objective from the outset should be to try to resolve the issue amicably with your neighbour. An explanation of the implications for your respective titles, if it remains unresolved, may persuade him to cooperate and thereby save you incurring costs and avoid an escalation to a contentious situation or to possible litigation.

As stated, my advice is to act without delay.

Patrick Shine is a chartered geomatics surveyor, a chartered civil engineer and a member of SCSI, scsi.ie

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