A recent boundary dispute has illustrated the desirability of ensuring that when a property is sold, the description of it in the conveyance is as clear as possible.

The dispute was over a farmhouse and adjacent fields, which were at one time under common ownership. In 1988 they were sold separately, the farmhouse being sold first and then the fields. The original owner had built a fence between the farmhouse and the fields. Regrettably, the plan, which was marked ‘for information only’, showed the fence as lying within the boundary of the property attaching to the farmhouse. The written description of the property conveyed with the farmhouse was inadequate, but the vendor (who at that time still owned the fields) had covenanted to maintain the fence. This made no sense if the fence were no longer on the vendor’s property.

The subsequent owner of the fields sought to have a declaration made by the court that her land included the land on which the fence stood and to have the copies of the plans filed at the Land Registry altered to show the fence as part of her property, not the farmhouse land. The Court of Appeal agreed that the fence stood on her land and that the boundary shown in the plan should be altered to show her ownership of the disputed land.

The plan of a property is normally only indicative and the extent of the true title is contained in the description of the property. It is therefore very important that conveyances contain accurate and comprehensive descriptions of the property being conveyed and also that documents of title are examined and compared with the filed plan to ensure that any anomalies can be resolved.