Poor quality property conveyancing is a sadly common source of neighbour disputes and that is why it is so crucial to engage specialist solicitors to do the job. A case on point concerned a poorly demarcated boundary which went unnoticed for years before it became the focus of conflict between rural homeowners.
The case concerned a farmhouse and a barn which were in common ownership until 1986 when the barn was sold off. The conveyance used an inadequate plan to show the intended boundary between the two properties. The written description of the land conveyed was also vague and ambiguous.
When the house was also sold in 1991, the boundary was shown in a different place. The end result was to give the impression of an orphaned strip of land that did not fall within the title of either property. The discrepancy was not noticed for years but the disputed strip had become a battleground between the properties’ current owners.
In 2015, the owners of the barn purported to have the disputed strip conveyed to them by the original vendors and applied to the Land Registry to have it registered in their names. Despite fierce objections from the owner of the house, their entitlement to do so was upheld by the First-tier Tribunal.
Allowing the house owner’s appeal against that outcome, the Upper Tribunal (UT) noted that it was very unlikely that the original vendors, having sold the barn in 1986 and the house in 1991, would have wished to retain title to the disputed strip. On that basis, it found that the disputed strip was conveyed in 1991 to the new owner of the house. The 2015 conveyance was of no effect because, by that stage, the original vendors no longer owned the disputed strip.
Upholding the house owner’s objection, the UT directed the Chief Land Registrar to reject the barn owners’ application for first registration of the disputed strip. Noting that the precise location of the boundary between the properties remained an open question, the UT expressed the hope that the neighbours would come to a sensible agreement.