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Good Fences

It goes without saying that a good relationship with one’s neighbours is the ideal situation for any proprietor. After all, you share a space or a boundary with them. It is therefore the sensible approach to avoid fostering any ill-will with them.

As a proprietor, you have the right to deal with your property however you choose within the confines of the law. This includes erecting fencing or markers to identify your property’s boundaries. A fence symbolizes many things—fencing your property in while fencing others out. It operates to offer you protection while separating you from the outside world, including your neighbors.


Regrettably, however, at times a proprietor and their neighbours do not always see eye to eye and differences often arise in instances relating to the true boundary and demarcation of their respective properties. If faced with an encroachment or a dispute as to the true demarcation of your property’s boundary, what are the legal mechanisms in place to resolve such issues?

By virtue of the Registered Land Ordinance (s.17 (2) & (3)), the Chief Registrar of Land is empowered to investigate and issue a declaration in respect of any uncertainty or dispute regarding a property’s boundaries. This process in initiated on the application of the affected landowner by way of letter.

On receipt of this application, the Chief Registrar of Lands will initiate an investigation into the matter. As a matter of course, the Chief Registrar notifies all the other parties who are likely to be affected by any decision, namely the proprietors of adjoining lands and the Chief Land Surveyor. A site visit is normally conducted with all the affected parties who attend.
After the investigation is carried out, the Chief Registrar will issue a Boundary Determination & Declaration outlining the findings of the investigation.         

After the issuance of the Chief Registrar’s finding, any affected party has thirty (30) days within which to appeal the Declaration failing which the findings become final and binding. Additionally, the Chief Registrar has the power to order a party to remedy any breach or encroachment of a boundary which exists.

It is important to note that Section 17 (4) of the Registered Land Ordinance precludes any court from entertaining any action or proceedings relating to the boundary dispute unless the boundaries have been determined as provided for by the Chief Registrar under the Act.


However, the outcome of an investigation can buttress a court action against anyone for breaching your property’s boundaries or trespassing upon one’s property for relief against the offending party.

Also, when purchasing property, it is advisable to obtain a surveyor’s report as to the status of the property including the relevant boundaries. This is customary for mortgage-financed purchases, however, as the financial institution(s) requirements stipulate. By so doing, property owners can avoid potential legal tussles over any disputed boundaries with their neighbours.

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