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It is essential, whether you are buying or selling, to know exactly where the boundary of a property lies.

As well as understanding the exact boundary, it is important to know who has responsibility for maintaining it.

Hopefully the deeds or plans will show you this - a "T" mark on a boundary line drawn on an original site plan indicates that a particular wall belongs to the owner of the property inside which the mark appears. Some deeds specify clearly your obligations as far as fencing is concerned - the type and its minimum or maximum height.


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If the deeds are not specific, under general planning law you may not erect a fence more than one metre high in front of a house or more than two metres high at the rear.

Walls dividing semi-detached or terraced properties with supports on both sides are generally regarded as belonging to both parties with repairs being a joint expense (in many cases each owner takes responsibility for one wall). If your shared wall or boundary falls under the Party Walls Act 1996, you are required to give your neighbours two months' notice of any intention to carry out work on the wall, along with details of those works.

Ask to see plans so you can check where the boundaries are. You might find that the plans say one thing and the physical boundary is in a different position. This needs to be clarified.

If there has been a boundary dispute in recent years, you may be well advised to look elsewhere for the home of your dreams.

If you are determined to go ahead, chat to the neighbour concerned to ensure that the dispute is not going to recur.

Many of us dream of a pastoral view. In our built-up lives, any open space around our homes is welcomed with a gasp of delight. Be warned - the grass or concrete on the other side of the fence could be someone else's nest egg and you might find yourself living next to a new housing development or an all-night lorry park.

Always ensure that searches are thoroughly carried out. The most innocent piece of grazing land can become a mud field of ongoing development within a month. Look at any plans for development in detail.

If the property is just what you want and all safeguards have been taken to protect your privacy and light, then consider going ahead. Don't forget the opportunities that the land around you offers. Ask the owners what they intend to do with the land.

  Ann Morris author of "A-Z Guide to Property" serialised in the Daily Telegraph