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Unregistered Land Problem

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  • Unregistered Land Problem

    I'm trying to buy a house with some land. The site is registered under 2 different titles, but there is an area of about an acre between the 2 registered parts that is unregistered. To make things more interesting, apparently there are no deeds either! The seller's solicitor has said that it could take some months to sort out, and will be expensive. The seller isn't prepared to spend the time and money getting it registered, and wants to sell it as it is. The easiest thing would be to walk away, but it has some unusual features that meet a lot of my requirements, so I think it's worth sticking with it for a while. I've read the relevant stuff on the Land Registry web site, and downloaded the forms, so have a fair idea of what's involved. I guess the chances are that no one else will have a claim on the land, and that I'll get it registered in time, but I'm not entirely comfortable about that. I'm a cash buyer, so there's no mortgage lender involved. Can anyone offer any practical advice on what I can/should do, and if I go ahead and buy, can I register it myself, or should I pay an expert? What are the implications if I can't register it?
    Last edited by johnandcharlie; 08-07-2009, 10:21 PM.

  • #2
    A lot depends on how the unregistered land "fits" with the registered titles and what you plan to do with the whole property. In particular -

    - Is the unregistered land surrounded by the registered titles?

    - Has it been used by the seller as part and parcel of the overall site for at least 12 years?

    - Is ownership of the unregistered land crucial to your proposed use of the land?

    If the answers are "Yes", "Yes" and "No" then I would be inclined to proceed, but make sure you get the seller to make a suitable (for Land Registry purposes) statutory declaration as to his use of the land, and ensure that the transfer of the registered title includes also whatever righ or interest the seller may have in the unregistered land (though he will not want to give any title guarantee in respect of the unregistered land)

    I hope this helps
    This is based on my experience as a conveyancing solicitor in England, but I do not accept liability for information I give in this forum

    Comment


    • #3
      The unregistered land is sandwiched between the 2 bits of registered land. There are fields of a neighbouring farm on one side of the whole site, and a public road on the other. I'm not sure quite where the boundary is in relation to the house, but the unregistered land and one piece of registered land makes up the whole of a wood, with no obvious boundaries. Where it joins the house and field, it blends naturally into this, so to anyone viewing the whole site it appears to be a whole. The current owner has only owned the site for just under 8 years, and I believe the previous owner is still around. As far as I can tell, it's been used as part and parcel of the overall site fora lot more than 12 years. The trees probably haven't been coppiced for much longer than that. I understand that at one time clay was quarried in what is now the wood. There are remains of a short tramway, and an access road. Ownership of the land is crucial to my proposed use of the land. As the current owner doesn't want to register the land, will the Land Registry accept registration from me as a new owner, or will it make it harder?

      Comment


      • #4
        From what you say, it sounds liker an ideal candidate for a dirst registration application, and I am surprised the present owner does not make an application in order to improve the "sellability" of the entire plot

        You can buy and make the application in your name, but you will need the appropriate evidence (in the form of suitable statutory declarations) from the current owner and the previous owner, so as to prove 12 years unbroken and unchallenged use

        However, as the land in question is crucial, and as there is no guarantee that your application will succeed, the risk may not be worth taking

        Good luck!
        This is based on my experience as a conveyancing solicitor in England, but I do not accept liability for information I give in this forum

        Comment


        • #5
          There is a website called Finder Monkey that can find the owners of unregistered land might be worth a try - sorry not sure of the web address.

          good luck.

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          • #6
            Thanks JustinN. I think the chances are that no one will claim it and I'll be able to register at some stage, even if it takes time. But there's always a risk. I'm trying to gather enough information before talking to the seller and the solicitors I may use for conveyancing.

            Thanks Robboyeah. I found it at findermonkey.co.uk/unregistered-land-buildings (can't post full link as I'm a new poster!). They charge £29.99 up front and a further £100 for a successful search. Useful to know if I have problems.

            Comment


            • #7
              I suggest that you do not want to find out who owns the unregistered land - you want to claim it for yourself, instead. If you find out who owns it, you will have to deal with them, and could end up paying a lot of money for what would be a "ransom strip"
              This is based on my experience as a conveyancing solicitor in England, but I do not accept liability for information I give in this forum

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks for the help. I've spent a week researching this, having been given the impression that the seller wasn't prepared to register the land. I've just been to see him, and the estate agent and his solicitor haven't been keeping him informed on what's going on, and what he should be doing. He's going to get the land registered. He didn't even know I was waiting to negotiate a price over a week ago!!!!!

                Comment


                • #9
                  How bloody typical! Why do so many solicitors see it as their job to fight what they think is their client's corner, without first checking that the client wants them to do so? I lose track of the number of transactions that are jeopardised by unnecessarily hostile solicitors!

                  I am more surprised at the agents not keeping the seller informed: usually, they are very good at recognising how important clear and accurate communication is to a smooth transaction
                  This is based on my experience as a conveyancing solicitor in England, but I do not accept liability for information I give in this forum

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Unregistered Land

                    Local librarians/ council archivists love to get involved in this sort of issue. See what they can find out for you

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      As per my post on 12 July, I think you (and your seller) are better off NOT knowing who might own the land, or you might have to notify them of the claim to it
                      This is based on my experience as a conveyancing solicitor in England, but I do not accept liability for information I give in this forum

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The owner decided to sell to someone else who wasn't bothered about the unregistered land. I've just had calls from the owner and estate agent to say that the buyer can't get a big enough mortgage, and is trying to substantially reduce the price! So they want to know if I'm still interested, which I am.

                        The other news is that a previous owner has died, so proof of use of the unregistered land only goes back 8 years, rather than the 40 or more that could have been proved some months ago.

                        Looking at the title plans, I think it's quite likely that a mistake was made when the land was registered. It would have been very easy to draw the line in the wrong place. The estate agent said that she had known of situations where mistakes had been corrected, so this might be a way to go. Is this a realistic thing to try?

                        What are the chances of taking out an indemnity insurance? I think I was told this wouldn't be possible, but other people may know better.

                        The owner has just suggested that we agree that I withhold maybe £20k until I'm happy with the situation. I should be able to register the land in 4 years, so it could be a long time before he gets the money, but he's desperate to sell. Is this a practical option?

                        This place is more suitable for my requirements than anything else I've seen at the price, and I'd have to pay a lot more to get something nowhere near as suitable. I'm reluctant to give up on it if there's way way round the problem.
                        Last edited by johnandcharlie; 23-09-2009, 04:49 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Indemnity insurance may well be available, if the physical relationship between the registered and the unregistered land is appropriate

                          Failing that, the retention sounds like a good idea. It would need to be enough to "buy off" anyone who came along with evidence of ownership, and the terms of the retention would need to allow you to pay that person off out of the retention money, subject to keeping the seller informed and following any reasonable requirements he may have

                          Sounds like an interesting case! It's not in Kent or East Sussex, is it? :-)
                          This is based on my experience as a conveyancing solicitor in England, but I do not accept liability for information I give in this forum

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JustinN View Post
                            Sounds like an interesting case! It's not in Kent or East Sussex, is it? :-)
                            No, it's in Wales! I spoke to the solicitor I'd probably use today and she thought the retention would be ok, but it's not usual to hold one for 4 years. She also thought indemnity insurance might be a possibility. Maybe the two could be combined, to cover any cost over the value of the retention.

                            Got some hard thinking to do now, as I have another project on, and probably have to choose between them.

                            Thanks for your help.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              While it is not "usual" to hold a retention for 4 years, there is no logical, professional or practical objection to it. You just need to diarise it ;-)
                              This is based on my experience as a conveyancing solicitor in England, but I do not accept liability for information I give in this forum

                              Comment

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