Mind the gap

Rural and Agricultural Property Partner, Jonathan Midgley, draws attention to a common problem in the purchase of rural property and land, which if missed or unresolved can present a problem when the property or land comes to be sold.

When buying land or rural property it is a sensible and basic precaution to make a specific enquiry of the Highways Authority to establish the extent of the highway.  The highway traditionally is the metalled surface and the grass verge up to the outside edge of a fence or hedge.

This becomes relevant when buying rural property as it is not uncommon for there to be a gap between the extent of the boundary of the land you are buying and the highway.  The highway search will show whether the gap is considered to be part of the public highway, the relevance being that the public will have the right to pass and repass over that area irrespective of any private land or rights, if it is considered to be part of the public highway.  If it isn’t, one needs to check that there is no registered third party title which would create a ransom strip.   A Statutory Declaration as to long use by the Seller and, if necessary, indemnity insurance usually resolves the problem.  It’s important, but often overlooked by the non-specialist conveyancer, to consider not only whether the Declaration covers rights of way but also covers rights for the passage of services such as water.

Buying or selling rural and agricultural property is a specialist area of law and practice, and there are many traps for the unwary.  At Gaby Hardwicke we have recently launched a specialist team working solely for rural and agricultural property owners.

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