Determined Boundary Applications

Determined Boundary Applications


HM Land Registry Title Plans are rarely precise plans, and it is common for the boundary on the land to be different from the boundary on the plan. This can cause disputes between neighbours, an amicable solution to which is not always possible. When an agreement cannot be reached, an application can be made to HM land Registry to determine the boundary.

Land Registration

Since National Land Registration began in England (1862) there has been a process over time by which unregistered land has become registered. This has been accomplished by compulsory Land Registration area by area. Most residential properties that have changed hands in the last 30 years will now be registered. Digitisation of the Land Registry began in 1983 and Land Registration became compulsory on a national level in 1998. Accordingly, all land transactions now need to be registered.​

Problems in Land Registration

As explained above the HM Land Registry Title Plans are rarely precise and when neighbours wish for their boundary to be determined, a precise plan is required. Pinney Talfourd have expert surveyors who can carry out this mapping to bring title plans up to the required standard. Land Registration plans are generally to a scale of 1:1250 (Urban) and 1:2500 (Rural areas). Thus, it will be realised that the width of the red lines shown on Land Registry plans, some of which were originally drawn in felt tip or biro, when scaled up, can be many meters thick. It is therefore not surprising that adjoining landowners can find themselves confused regarding the position of the boundary.​

Section 60 of the Land Registration Act 2002

Section 60(1) states: “the boundary of a registered estate as shown for the purposes of the register is a general boundary unless shown as a determined boundary under Section 2. A general boundary does not define the exact line of the boundary”.  This is known as the ‘general boundaries rule’. 
Unfortunately, many landowners who have copies of the HM Land Registry Title Plans do not take legal advice. Subsequently, they do not appreciate the meaning and effect of this rule which can often lead to them becoming involved in boundary disputes.​ 

Agreed Boundaries

Where adjoining landowners are on amicable terms and there is genuine confusion over where the boundary is, they agree between them its precise position and ask HM Land Registry to register the agreed boundary.

HM Land Registry has published Guide 19 to assist landowners in this situation. Guide 19 recommends setting the agreement out in a formal document. This can then be noted on each properties register (practice guide 40, paragraph 3.3.1). In most cases this will be sufficient. However, because the note is based on an agreement, it will not determine the exact boundary line.​

Determined Boundaries

If a landowner makes a unilateral application supported by detailed plans, HM Land Registry will serve notice on the adjoining owner. If the adjoining owner agrees the plans, HM Land Registry will accept it and note both property titles accordingly. It is important to note that the legal boundary is unaffected, the determined boundary simply recalling in detail where the actual boundary is.

If objection is made by the adjoining owner, then HM Land Registry can, and generally will, refer it to an adjudicator of HM Land Registry.​ Determined boundaries are covered under Section 2 of The Land Registration Act 2002.

Adjudication in HM Land Registry

The HM Land Registry adjudicator is an independent judicial office created by the Land Registration Act 2002. The HM Land Registry adjudicator is there to resolve disputes about registered land. Most disputes are referred to the adjudicator by HM Land Registry.


The application to determine the exact line of the boundary will be supported by a statement of truth and evidence in support, which will then be served on the respondent land owner who must then file an objection if the application is opposed.

On referral to the adjudicator, the adjudicator will issue directions for both parties to comply with which will generally include the filing and service of statements of case with all supporting documents. 


Each case is unique and will require specific evidence. Some, or all of the following documents may be relevant:

  • Detailed statement of both applicant and respondent as to the physical boundary on the ground between the two properties.
  • Surveyors evidence accurately mapping the boundary.
  • Photographs to supplement any expert report.
  • Copies of historical documents relating to the boundary.
  • Third party evidence, i.e. witness statement from former owner.

It is therefore beneficial to speak to an experienced property litigation lawyer who can identify the evidence required and help to collate this via other experts, databases and statements.


Issues over boundaries are all too common, especially where there is a lack of physical boundary evidence on the ground, which commonly occurs when garden walls/ fences/ structures are demolished as part of a refurbishment or rebuild. Landowners in dispute often take very entrenched positions, and can accrue very high legal costs in these disputes if not dealt with swiftly and professionally. Determined boundary applications can be utilised as an alternative to Court proceedings and can save substantial costs in some cases.​

The above is meant to be only advice and is correct as of the time of posting. This article was written by Jack Oliver, Solicitor in the Residential Property Litigation Team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of March 2024



Jack Oliver

Jack Oliver


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