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Land Boundaries

"And this is one of the major questions of our lives: how we keep boundaries, what permission we have to cross boundaries, and how we do so". A. B. Yehoshua

Identifying land is important.

Land boundaries can be natural – by reference to the natural landscape such as a river bank – or artificial where the boundary is fixed by an imaginary line determined by survey points or physical objects.

Rivers, creeks and private roads are sometimes referred to in boundary descriptions. Ownership of land adjacent to rivers, creeks and private roads generally extends to the mid-line of those adjacent rivers, creeks and roads. Boundaries follow the gradual natural changes to rivers and creeks.

Are you and your livestock or crops using your land? Is the land you intend selling all yours? Is the land you are buying owned by the vendor?

These days most parcels of land are adequately identified by title deeds and title documents which record survey details of the location of the land. A surveyor can interpret those survey details and identify the boundaries of your land.

Landholders and neighbours have sometimes assumed boundary locations which differ from survey entries on title deeds. Earlier survey pegs and other physical indicators of earlier boundary locations may, over time, disappear or move. Finding the correct boundary locations in these circumstances can be difficult.

Survey details recorded on title documents or on the land register maintained by Land and Property Information are not conclusive.

The resolution of a boundary dispute will require consideration of many issues including the existence, location and duration of boundary fences and the location of survey pegs or marks made by earlier surveyors. Evidence of boundary locations from current and former owners or occupiers of land is also relevant. Survey details recorded on or accompanying current or former title deeds or documents are also considered.

Disputes can be resolved by negotiation, mediation, the Registrar-General who administers land ownership records in NSW through the department of Land and Property Information and court proceedings.

The Registrar-General has authority to investigate and determine boundaries between adjacent occupiers of land.

When buying or selling land, check the boundaries against a survey. Cadastral maps kept by Land and Property Information are available to the public and provide an informal record of property boundaries.

Your lawyer can always help in identifying your land, ensuring your property is accurately described in a contract and resolving boundary disputes through negotiation or court proceedings.

Chris Leahy
General Counsel
Liston Legal Glen Innes