A dispute over boundaries can usually be resolved by the Director of the Land Registry upon the application of the owner of the land who believes that part of his property is possessed by his neighbour.
The Immovable Property Law provides the procedure for determining a dispute as to boundaries of any registered land through a local enquiry conducted by the Land Registry in the presence of the owners of the adjacent properties. At the time of the inspection, the Land Registry officer places the land marks which show the boundary line and if the parties do not agree, the Director is obliged to decide on the dispute and inform the parties of his decision. In the event one of the owners is not satisfied, he has the right to file an appeal before the District Court within 30 days from the day the decision is notified to him. The Director has a mandatory duty to decide on the dispute by determining the boundaries in the best possible manner, based on the available information and the Land Registry records.
The actual boundaries of the properties are those registered in the topographical plans of the Land Registry, unless it is proven that the official plans are not correct.
In a number of cases, the actual situation with regard to the possession of a property is different than the official plan due to trespass committed by a neighbour. Obviously, one of the facts taken into consideration by the Director is the actual situation; however, without an adequate or valid reason this fact cannot supersede the official plans which in most of the cases are the authentic guide in boundary disputes.
The official plans were created based on measurements made by the Land Registry, on searches in old files for the division of properties and on searches constantly conducted in the area where the properties situate. The official plans can only be amended if the parties decide amicably to settle their dispute and readjust the boundary line or through a decision made by the Director.
According to the law, the Director resolves the dispute in one of the following ways:
Even when a dispute is amicably resolved by the owners, the Director has an obligation under the law to issue a decision as it has been agreed between the parties and notify them accordingly. A party who consented to resolve the dispute amicably cannot thereafter change his mind.
The procedure followed by the Land Registry is to request the owners to sign a declaration for the determination of the dispute before the officer who carries out the local enquiry and points out to the owners the registered common boundary of their adjacent properties. Furthermore, the owners are also requested to sign the topographical plan which shows either the common boundary of their properties or the one resulting from their agreement.
Where the owners have settled their dispute in another way that is through an amicable settlement between them without the involvement of the Land Registry, their application, if any, is terminated and dismissed. If in the process one of them changes his mind, the issue can be resolved only through an application submitted to the Land Registry in order to settle their boundary dispute.
When an owner decides to develop his land by constructing a building therein, he should apply to the Land Registry to indicate the boundaries to him in order to avoid any future conflict with his neighbours.
George Coucounis is an experienced lawyer practicing in Larnaca, Cyprus.
Educated at University College (London) and Thessaloniki University (Greece), George is fluent in English and has been practicing law in Cyprus since 1982.