Unregistered Land - Private Road/Parking Issue

Unregistered Land - Private Road/Parking Issue

Postby JWilliams101 » Thu Aug 24, 2017 6:36 pm

Good evening,

I'll try to keep this as brief and simple as possible and any help is appreciated.

I live on a private road where the current owner is unknown and the road is not registered with the Land Registry. We are facing increasing parking issues where other cars (from non-residents) are parking in the road and we have no recourse.

The road contains one very large house, several small cottages and my house which is a new build. The large house at one point owned the entire road and all buildings but over time they have individually been sold off.

The main issue is that at the end of the road is a building containing several flats that is adjacent to the private road but the frontage is on the main public road, and residents from within these flats have started to use the private road. This building within it's title deeds has "claim to a benefit of right of way" to our road which would stem from when the building was in commercial use prior to being refurbished into flats.

I'm looking for solutions as to how to claim the land for the residents (or even one resident - the owner of the large house) and any temporary ideas as to how we could stop others parking until then?

From research, we have tracked down the name of the last owner who seemed to own the whole plot (in 1865!). To claim ownership of the road at the Land Registry, does anyone know if we need to have shown we did our utmost to track down this man's heirs and descendants? Or what they would require? A resident of the large house has previously tried (13 years ago) to have the road assigned to him but the Land Registry gave an indirect response to try and locate the owner.

Second option is that we do track down somehow the individual who does currently own the land and try and get them to sign over ownership. Residents worried about the expense here.

Aside from that, one resident is very keen to put a gate at the end of the road and lock out anyone who does not live on the road. The residents of the flats that park in the road have put the burden on us to show that they cannot park here. As we don't own the road, we can't set-up a ticketing scheme etc. If we put up a gate and switched the burden to them to show that they can park here, does that come with any risks? We would be denying them access to the road but there is nothing set in stone in the deeds that this right exists, just passed down through statutory declarations.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

TOO LONG DIDN'T READ - How does one claim ownership of a road with the Land Registry when the owner is unknown?!
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Re: Unregistered Land - Private Road/Parking Issue

Postby MacadamB53 » Thu Aug 24, 2017 9:19 pm

H JWilliams101,

it may be of interest to know that the law presumes (takes as a fact) that a co-extensive strip of a road to the mid-point is included as part of each property with frontage (front, rear or side).

this presumption can be rebutted by evidence to the contrary.

which means that, if your property has frontage to this unregistered road, the portion of it directly beyond what you consider to be the edge of your property is a part of your property - to the middle of the road - unless there is evidence that proves otherwise.

does that make sense? and does it help?

kind regards, Mac
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Re: Unregistered Land - Private Road/Parking Issue

Postby JWilliams101 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:01 am

Thank-you for the reply.

I'd seen that point from some research i did but unfortunately doesn't help in this case as not all the road has a property that has a frontage from the residents (some of it is sides from buildings on the main/public road) so we cannot exclusively prevent people from parking on it.
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Re: Unregistered Land - Private Road/Parking Issue

Postby mr sheen » Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:36 am

Your legal interest in the land being used as a private roadway is that you have a right of way over it ie a right to pass and repass over and along the land to access and egress your property to reach a council road.

It was clearly the intention to use this section of land as an access to the land and then the properties on the land. Consequently it is highly unlikely that you will be able to claim the land for the residents since the fact that you have a right of way and the section of land was intended as an access will prevent a claim being successful.

You only recourse if the parking prevents you passing and repassing to get back and fore to your property will entail seeking an injunction against each person who persistently parks in such a manner as to cause a 'substantial interference' such that you cannot exercise your rights of passing and repassing to your property.

This situation is common where there is a section of land that people use as a private roadway since only the landowner is likely to be successful in a claim for trespass and the people with a right of way are limited to seeking redress only if their right of way is so substantially interfered with that an injunction will be issued.....and this is rare.....and would need to be individual complaints against each individual who is parking on the land.

It's a hard pill to swallow but if you rely on a piece of private land to access your property, as long as you can get back and fore to your property that is the extent of your rights over that land and so your options are very limited.

The presumption referred to earlier is a rebuttable presumption and on private land used as an access, this presumption is less likely to apply where you rely on private rights of way over private land.
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Re: Unregistered Land - Private Road/Parking Issue

Postby Roblewis » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:37 am

Given that the former commercial building has a right of way this did not include the right to park. But, and it is a big but, only the owner can stop the trespasses by the flats through their parking. Have you thought of erecting a barrier beyond the access point for the flats?
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Re: Unregistered Land - Private Road/Parking Issue

Postby JWilliams101 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:03 pm

Mr Sheen,

Thanks for that. No-one is preventing access to the properties, merely parking on it (and in effect taking the spots of residents who feel more entitled).

So, it would seem we need to spend some money and do some detective work to track down who now technically owns that piece of land to see if we can get it assigned. It would have been passed down somewhere....

Rob -

Yes, the current thinking is to put up a gate and remove the flats access. Worry would be that we would then get into trouble for denying them the access they claim to have a right to. I guess the worst case would be an injunction and we had to remove the gate? We would not be denying the flats access to their property in any way just denying them the right of way which is a claim in the deeds. There is no practical reason for them to need access to the road other than to park - which the right of way does not grant. There is one flat that does need access to the road as has a driveway behind but we would give that person access. Not sure if that effects the entire building legally!
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Re: Unregistered Land - Private Road/Parking Issue

Postby Roblewis » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:26 pm

I am thinking that the flats access point should be outside of the gated area such their RoW is not interfered with. This does depend on the right topography.
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Re: Unregistered Land - Private Road/Parking Issue

Postby mr sheen » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:32 pm

JWilliams101 wrote:
Thanks for that. No-one is preventing access to the properties, merely parking on it (and in effect taking the spots of residents who feel more entitled).

So, it would seem we need to spend some money and do some detective work to track down who now technically owns that piece of land to see if we can get it assigned. It would have been passed down

There is no practical reason for them to need access to the road other than to park - which the right of way does not grant. There is one flat that does need access to the road as has a driveway behind but we would give that person access. Not sure if that effects the entire building legally!


Point 1 above....there is no right for anyone to park on it unless they own it or have parking rights and if you are indicating that the issue is the flat owners taking parking space used by residents, you have a bigger problem. In order to get help from the courts, you have to go to court with 'clean hands' ie you can't expect the court to help you if you don't respect the law and rights of others yourself.

Pt 2 If you do find the owner, you are expecting the owner to take legal action against each offending person who is parking on the roadway. Not likely. Or you are expecting the owner to sell you the land for which they can ask whatever they like. But...your problems don't stop there...the flat owners may have acquired rights gained by the original old building so the chances are each and every owner in the flats does in fact have a right of way over the land as gained by the old building.

PT 3 Whether they NEED to use the right of way or not is irrelevant, especially if it is on their deeds. You say they don't have a right to park in their right of way....but this applies to everyone!

If you block a right of way, the beneficiaries of a right of way have the right to physically remove the obstruction in order to exercise their rights, or they can seek an injunction to remove the barrier/obstruction and if they can prove rights over the land you will be left with substantial costs.

You don't seem to want to take the bitter pill....you DO NOT own the land, you have a right to pass and repass over land owned by owner unknown period, and your right is the same as every other property that benefits from the same right as you ie you all have equal rights, your rights do not outweigh anyone else's who has a right of way.
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Re: Unregistered Land - Private Road/Parking Issue

Postby JWilliams101 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:12 pm

Thanks for the reply.

We do accept that we don't own it! That's why i'm trying to find a way that we/someone could. My ultimate hope was that there would be a way for the residents to claim the road without having to somehow track down the current owner, this wouldn't be done as a group necessarily but by the owner of the large house on the road. The road was at one point within the deeds to that property but has then been sold on and not included.

Point 2 - The aim would be to ask for a transfer of the property. Obviously a negotiation here. Owner would also be legally responsible for the upkeep of the road? (not sure how that's enforced) whereas at the moment costs are met by the residents who do not own it. (who had the road re-laid a few years back when fell into disrepair).

If one of the residents owned the road, there would be no denial to the flats of their right of way, but parking there would be deemed as trespass and we would take action.

On point 3 - Completely agree on the point that residents don't have the right to park either - since they don't own it. Then the gate seems like the wrong thing to do and comes with risk of legal action and possible costs.

There is a sense of entitlement by the residents of the road as they have been living there longer and when development was raised for the flats apparently it was conceded no-one would park there (i didn't live here then) but nothing changed in the deeds and freehold since sold. For the first couple of years, the freeholder did apparently tell flat residents they couldn't park there and an Estate Agent confirmed this to me. Just recently this has changed to the road residents annoyance.

Appreciate the feedback - I'll relay certainly that the gate doesn't seem the most sensible idea at this point!
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Re: Unregistered Land - Private Road/Parking Issue

Postby mr sheen » Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:38 pm

What you are proposing is a legal nightmare. Multiple owners or a cooperative of some type. And that's if you do manage to track down the owner ie someone with legal title and deeds. Ther are lots of these bits of land that were left over to provide access when estates were divided up and most remain unregistered and a bit of a free for all since multiple bits of land have rights over them.
Even if you do get to own it you seem to think that will put you in a strong legal position.....sorry to be the bearer of yet more bad news....you would have to prove trespass that amounts to a legal nuisance against each individual parking on the roadway and then even if you can jump that hurdle you will have to prove damages. What will be your losses? You will have to get an injunction against each individual and that will prove very costly. Hope you have deep pockets! You will probably find that some will claim a prescriptive right to park if they have lived there more than 20years too and then you have a disputed legal case and more costs.
Then we look at the ownership you propose....how will you decide who pays for what? What about decisions to be made? How? Trustees? Shares? What happens if some residents don't want to buy a share in the land? They will still have access and no responsibility to pay for anything even maintenance.

I suggest that you fork out a few quid and get some legal advice on this matter before you waste anymore time on what is likely to be a futile quest to stop people with the same rights as you and all other residents from parking on their right of way. The people with a sense of entitlement need to get a reality check...they are entitled to nothing more than to pass and repass over the land exactly the same as all the others with the same right.

You own property with an access over land that does not belong to you...just like most people in fact who use a Council road in the same way....in both cases the property owners have no control over who parks there as long as they don't prevent you getting to and from your land.
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Re: Unregistered Land - Private Road/Parking Issue

Postby JWilliams101 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:03 pm

Thanks for the reply.

I'll advise the residents that they get some legal advice and split the costs for a consultation.

In terms of ownership, as i say, we'd probably look to have the road assigned back to the owner of the large house to keep it simple rather than a residents trust or something similar. The owner of that property would ideally want that too and did try and get the road registered to him some time ago.

On the trespass - don't think there would be an expectation to actually raise a claim. But if someone actually owned the road they could put parking restrictions on it and enforce them is my understanding. There is a private road round the corner that has a Parking Charge Notice Scheme in operation on it for example.

There would be no prescriptive right to park as the flats are only 3-4 years old and previously other people who lived there prior to current tenants did not park there.
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Re: Unregistered Land - Private Road/Parking Issue

Postby mr sheen » Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:18 pm

The idea of doing all this work to gift the land to a single property is absurd. It is also convoluted legally ....you need some advice.
Even if you find the legal owner they will have to engage solicitors and incur costs and may see the land as a money maker and sell to a bigger bidder ie a much bigger player than a few residents.
What happens if that property is sold? Do you think the new owners will think twice about this amicable stuff you are dreaming up? They will wave a contract showing they own it
What do you do when they prevent you parking?
Your ideas are so far out in relation to legal norms that you are going to get your fingers burned. It may well be a very costly mistake.
Before doing anything make sure you get some good advice.
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Re: Unregistered Land - Private Road/Parking Issue

Postby MacadamB53 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:34 pm

Hi JWilliams101,

if I've understood correctly, you (and/or the neighbours) are not seeking to prevent folk from parking on the ROW but rather control which folk do the parking?

in which case, isn't the real issue that you (and/or the neighbours) need more space on your property for parking or else a more suitable property?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Unregistered Land - Private Road/Parking Issue

Postby Roblewis » Sat Aug 26, 2017 12:18 pm

The nuclear option is for the residents to act as owners of the road and close it to unauthorised vehicular access, whilst allowing vehicular right of passage to the flat owners and their visitors. Any Public RoW on foot will also need to be respected. It is also not illegal to place notices under windscreen wipers of parkers advising them of the facts. Rights for flat owners to park has to be by consent. In a few years time an adverse possession claim should succeed or bring the true owner out of the shadows. By re laying the road you are already acting as putative owners.
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Re: Unregistered Land - Private Road/Parking Issue

Postby jonahinoz » Sat Aug 26, 2017 3:28 pm

Hi J Williams,

As I see it, you and your neighbours have a right of way over this private road, but do not have a right to park on it. I understand you to say that you and your neighbours do park on it.

The flat dwellers also have a right of way over this private land, and similarly do not have a right to park on it. Your complaint is that they are obstructing your unauthorised parking.

Only the "paper" owner of the road can authorise, or prevent, parking on the road. If you manage to trace the paper owner, he will have several options.

He could allow you to park, but not the flat dwellers. Or he could allow the flat dwellers to park, but not you. Or he could allow both, or neither, to park. Or he could put the freehold of the road up for auction ... and maybe the flat dwellers will make the winning bid.

None of which will solve the overiding problem ... whoever parks on the road will be obstructing the rights to pass of everybody else. Nobody can win ... apart from the paper owner, at the end of the auction, when he laughs all the way from his solicitors.

Are the flats rented? Maybe the Landlord would be willing to sell the freehold of land under the RoW along the road. The flat dwellers would still have a RoW, but you could control them parking. But you would not be allowed to block their RoW with your parked cars.

My solution? Everybody meets at the local pub. The flat dwellers agree to form openings from the road, so they can park in their gardens. And you and your neighbours agree to do the same, on your side of the road. Even if your side paid for the ground works on the other side of the road, it might be cheaper than fighting it through the courts.

Have you asked your LA to view the Planning Approval for the flats? There just might be names on the application that do not appear anywhere else. Have you looked at the Land Register for the flats?

John W
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