How do I find out who has responsibility for a boundary fence, wall or hedge?
A title register may give information about the ownership of boundary features, for example a fence, wall or hedge, if the information was contained in the title deeds sent to us when the land or property was first registered with us.
The most common marking on deed plans showing boundary feature ownership, or the responsibility to maintain and repair it, is a 'T' mark. 'T' marks on a plan to a deed normally means that the owner of the property within the red edging is responsible for the maintenance and/or repair of any boundary with the inward facing 'T, mark, see the example on the plan below. But you must read the wording in the deed to make sure this is the case.
Not all deeds contain plans showing 'T' marks:
- sometimes the boundary may be mentioned in the wording of the deed
- 'T' marks on a deed plan that are not then mentioned in the deed have no special force or meaning in law,
- some deeds do not mention the ownership and/or the responsibility of boundary features at all.
Example of a 'T mark' on a deed plan
We do not often reproduce 'T' marks on a title plan. If a 'T' mark is referred to in a deed we usually add a note at the end of the register entry which mentions the deed, such as: "The 'T' mark referred to affects the northern boundary of the land in this title".
Sometimes registers refer to deeds as 'Copy filed'. If you want to get a copy of any such deed to see if it contains any information as to the ownership and/or responsibility of boundary features, see 'How can I get copies of deeds?'.
Even if a register refers to boundary features, these may have changed since the land/property was first registered. For example, new boundary features might have been built and the owners at that time might have agreed who was responsible for them.
Beliefs about ownership of boundary features
There are lots of different beliefs that the way a wall or fence is constructed can suggest who the owner is, for example:
- ownership is always on the right or left when you look from the front of a property
- that the posts and arris (horizontal) rails of a fence are on the owner's side.
But there is no legal foundation for such beliefs. Deeds may contain wording were one owner covenants (promises) to maintain a wall or fence but such covenants do not necessarily mean they own the wall or fence.
Where the ownership or responsibility for maintenance of a boundary feature cannot be decided, then it is generally best treated as a party boundary, and any alterations or replacement of a boundary should be done only with the agreement of the adjoining owners.
If you find yourself in dispute with your neighbour, see Can Land Registry help me resolve a boundary dispute with my neighbour?.