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Unadopted road problems

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  • Unadopted road problems

    My wife and I are looking to purchase a house built around 2005. The local searches revealed that the road is unadopted, even after 6 years. The sellers believe that the road is to be adopted, and showed us a letter from the developers in 2008 that said they were putting it forward for adoption "within 4-6 weeks". Obviously this didn't happen, but no one has been able to tell us why.

    The developers are very reticent to reply to us on the issue. The seller's solicitor apparently had a phone call with them, in which they stated that it was to be adopted. However, they then refused to put anything in writing and would not be drawn on a timescale.

    The sewers are also unadopted.

    As first-time buyers, this greatly concerns us because we simply don't understand the level of risk we'd be taking in proceeding. We've been advised that i) there is no framework for resolving any maintenance costs while the road is private, assuming the developer doesn't take responsibility; ii) the costs could be large, although this is unlikely (?); iii) any legal dispute with the developers in the future would prevent us from selling; and iv) we may have similar difficulties when we come to sell even without a dispute.

    On the other hand, the whole estate seems to be in the same position and houses are changing hands on it. And we really like the house...

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: Unadopted road problems


    Have you spoken to the local authority in relation to their plans to adopt the road?

    You are correct in that it is a big consideration when looking to purchase the house. Often, in situations like this, the neighbouring residents form a group and organise the maintenance of common areas and apportion accordingly. However this obviously does require someone to take the lead and organise it, looks like no one has in this particular situation.

    The developer is almost certain to still own the land, but you really need a plan to establish boundaries. If you don't want the expense of a Solicitor, I suggest you approach the council and enquire as to the status of the responsibilities. They aren't obliged to help, but they might...

    Have you spoken to other residents in the road? Again, this should be done extremely politely.

    If the developer is reluctant to provide information on this issue, it does sound like they have responsibility but are happy for the current (unclear) situation to carry on. As this way, residents will be less likely to approach them in the event of a problem.


    • #3
      Re: Unadopted road problems

      Sewers are a non-issue - there are thousands of modern properties with unadopted sewers. From 1st October 2011they will be taken over by the Water Company anyway.

      Unless there was some management company arrangements in place to look after the future maintenance of the road then your mortgage lender will have to be told about the position and may make a retention from its loan which you would want to pass on to the sellers.

      If the road is not taken over by the Council then you and the neighbours will be responsible for its maintenance. More likely the Council will eventually decide to take it over but will charge you a proportion of the cost of bringing it up to standard. That is something the seller should pay for by you reducing the price.
      RICHARD WEBSTERwww.rwco.co.uk
      As a conveyancing solicitor I want to be helpful (England/Wales only) but can't accept liability for this.


      • #4
        Re: Unadopted road problems

        This is not uncommon and needs to be unravelled from the start.

        First, is the local authority search you have done an official search from the council or one that is done by an agent - ask your solicitor. I encountered one done by a search provider that was wrong on this very point. Check directly with the council.

        If the roads are definitely not adopted you will need to look at the original transfer of the property to its first owners to see whether the developer is under an obligation to construct and maintain the roads to adoptable standard until such time as they are adopted by the local authority. If it does contain this (provided that the developer has not gone bust and the roads were vested in them in the first place) then you should be okay. However there should be questions of the LA, developer, and seller as to why adoption has never taken place and what is being done to remedy this.

        There should have been an agreement under Section 38 of the Highways Act 1980 between the developer and the LA setting out the procedure and requirements for adoption. The search should also confirm this is in place and should be supported by a bond from the developer.

        There may be other issues that have prevented adoption such as unfinished works. Is the estate as a whole finished and all built upon? Is the road made up - i.e. the final layer of tarmac?


        • #5
          Re: Unadopted road problems

          If the raod was to be adopted the developer/builders would have entered into a SECTION 38 agreement with the council.
          Your solicitor should check that a section 38 agreeement actually exists in the first place.

          If there isnt one it isnt adopted and never will be! The Council would have needed to send a highways inspector to the site to inspect the road constrcution a various stages.

          If ther is a Section 38 agreement then it could just be a matter of the builder not having carried out defects and maintenace works required by the council prior to adoption. House builders are notorious for this, once the development is sold and they have all their money they dont care about seeing the adoption through - that is until thye find that their bond limits with the NHBC have been reached and then they make an effort to clear the outstanding adoptions as they cannot get further Section 38 agreements on their new sites.

          Just because other houses are being sold dont make the mistake they are making and...........
          if it isnt going to be adopted your home will be worth less and you will face potentially huge maiantence bills for the road not to mention public liability insurance being required.

          With new homes Private Roads and Shared Driveways should always be avoided!
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