Q: “I am buying a mid-terrace house from a repossession company and the full length of the garden is not included in the details. There is no border and as it stands it looks as though it is being used as part of the garden. At this point in time, we don’t know who owns the land and neither does the repossession company. Can you advise where we stand in a situation such as this? We feel this may decrease the value of the property for a future sale.”
A: "There are two types of boundary: legal and physical. The legal boundary separates one owners land from anothers but may not always be identified with a physical boundary on the ground.
"A search can be made of the Index Map at the Land Registry which will confirm whether the area in question is registered. If it is then, subject to certain formalities, adverse possession (possession of land without legal title) can be claimed after ten years. The registered proprietor then has two years in which to recover possession or grant a lease or licence of the land.
"If the land is not registered then a period of 12 years must pass before adverse possession can be claimed. You may be able to show all or part of this period by producing statutory declarations from owners of neighbouring properties who have firsthand knowledge of the use and occupation of this land.
"There is a procedure for fixing boundaries under the Land Registration Rules. Notice is served on all the owners and occupiers of the adjoining land. The adjoining titles are then inspected and there is a survey.
"Provided there are no substantiated objections from the neighbouring landowners, the title plan can be amended to reflect the legal boundaries."
Answered by Susan Drakeford, licensed conveyancer at Adams & Remers LLP.