The facts about Unregistered Land
There are many urban myths about ‘Unregistered land’, says Rachel Johnston of Stacks Property Search. If you come across a parcel of unregistered land in your property search, here is what you should know, courtesy of www.landregistry.gov.uk
- All land is owned by someone. Even where an owner, if an individual, has died without leaving a will or near relatives, or a company has been dissolved, there will be an owner – usually the Treasury Solicitor on behalf of the Crown.
- Much land remains unregistered simply because it has not changed hands since compulsory land registration was first introduced to the area in question – it does not mean that the owner cannot be traced or the land has been abandoned.
- Annexation of unregistered land is a risky business. The true owner of the land may take legal proceedings and in relevant cases may include claims for trespass and even criminal damage. In addition to the obvious anxiety that this would cause, if the true owner is successful the squatter may be responsible for all legal costs. These costs could run to tens of thousands of pounds
If you are buying a property that has not needed to be registered previously, it costs you slightly more in fees with the Land Registry, and your solicitor may charge you an increased fee for the extra work involved in registering for the first time. Click here for the latest fee structure for registering land.
Experienced property hunters, Stacks have experience of dealing with parcels of land where the historic squatting raises issues for their clients.
“This ‘annexation’ of land happens a great deal in the Forest of Dean where people whose gardens are adjacent to the Forest will just move their fences a bit further out. Usually this is a matter of feet, but you do hear of people taking sizeable chunks, up to an acre.
“We once bought a property in south Wales for a client where, when we looked at the deeds, the boundary went straight through what was actually the tennis court.
This had been as a result of some annexation of the neighbouring farmers’ ground which everyone had forgotten about. In this event, it was possible to prove that it had taken place long enough ago, and the farmer signed the land over officially.
“As a buyer, you should be careful that what you think you’re buying really does belong to the house – as buying agents, we are meticulous about this issue, and will make sure the Deeds marry up to what’s happening on the ground. The rules of annexation say that you have to have occupied the ground ‘without let or hindrance’, i.e. you haven’t been given permission to use it, and you mustn’t have broken down fences to help yourself.
“You should also pay attention to land that has been ‘added on’ to a garden – even if it is officially part of the curtilage, has it got planning permission to be a garden?”
“Finally, as the purchaser of unregistered land, you may wish to consider taking out “Title Indemnity Insurance”. This can be purchased for a modest premium where genuinely the vendor appears to own the land but the documents to prove it are not available – your legal advice can advise if this is necessary”
For help in finding the house of your dreams, contact Rachel or browse here to find out why the #secretshire Northamptonshire could be the “Location, Location, Location” for you.