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Garden boundaries – what is legally yours?

19 October 2021 Property & Estate Agency Sharon Connolly

Never before have our gardens and outside spaces meant so much to us. Previously abandoned pieces of waste land suddenly became the centrepieces to our social lives during lockdown and Covid restrictions, where we met with friends and family. Budding gardeners are popping up all round the country, planting tomatoes, pruning bushes, growing trees, making our gardens an extension of our homes.

When you live in a flat, the garden can often be a communal space, legally shared with your neighbours. So, how do you determine what is by right yours, and what is by right theirs? Frustratingly, in a block of flats, whilst the boundaries should be stated in your title deeds, it can be difficult to work out the exact areas. And even if it is clear, physical boundaries can often differ from legal ones. A path might signal the start of one boundary moving onto another. Or it may be shared space. Or perhaps it was built with no regard to boundary lines and it crosses legal boundaries altogether, it’s just no-one, up until now, has ever cared.

In houses, the lines can often be just as blurred. The residents of flats housed within one converted property may share a communal driveway, but legally the land belongs to only the ground floor property. In this case, the owner would feel perfectly within their right to develop this land. Perhaps installing a pond, or maybe building a small workshop. But if that communal driveway provides your only or main access to your home, then you could argue that you have a “prescriptive right of access”.  It’s not an easy case to argue, but our property lawyers understand the Land Registration system in Scotland like our own driveways, so are happy to traverse it for you.

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