Purchasing House with water and soak away in farmers fields

Flashy
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Purchasing House with water and soak away in farmers fields

Post by Flashy » Sat Dec 30, 2017 12:20 pm

We're in the process of purchasing a house, which was an old school built in 1910's, converted in 1950's, then a floor added in 1990's.

Its in a rural part of Wales, and is surrounded by a farmland owned by a farmer who's family has owned the land for at least the time the school existed. Access to the property is via the highway, not over his land, however the natural water supply and septic tank soak away are on his land.

We have spoken to the farmer on numerous occassions and he is very friendly, and there appears no history of any issues with the current owners of the school over approx 15 years.

The water for the property comes from a spring on his land approximately 500 meters from the school, a couple of fields away. The current owners have had a underground tank put in the field in the early 2000's, to help with continual water supply in dry weather. They inform the farmer when they check the water supply periodically.

The septic tank soak away is in the field adjacent to school, and we were told by the owners they repaired it when it was damaged in the past 5 years.

So there appears to be a history of cooperation and access.

Whilst I would prefer some sort of legal agreement for access/placement of the water/soakaway, I cannot see how we could force everyone to sign up to such a thing before we purchase (or even after for that matter). I don't see how the farmer would want to bother with such costs or effort, when from his point of view there is probably no problem.

Is there perhaps a historical right of way? Is there an approach our solicitor could take here?

We suspect the water has been this way (without the extra tank) for some time, but not sure about the soak away.

Whist the area of the land is around 1/3 acre, the position of the house/spectic tank (at lower end of sloping land) would make it difficult I suspect to create a soakaway within the grounds.

Most grateful for any experience/advice.

ukmicky
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Re: Purchasing House with water and soak away in farmers fie

Post by ukmicky » Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:13 pm

There needs to be a formal agreement in the form of an easement, you cant risk buying something like a house without something which guarantees yours rights. Are you sure they have nothing written into an old deed


The farm could be sold to somebody less agreeable and If you suddenly lost rights to use your water source or soak away your house will suddenly become uninhabitable and its value will plummet. You also will have trouble selling it in the future if you cant prove you have rights to use the water source and soak away . Currently at most your only rights will be equitable because without a formal easement you will have no rights legal rights to use the farmers land unless you can prove 20 years of use without permission.

That proof would need to come in the form of statements of truth and as the current house owners obviously have a financial interest in the property I wouldn't be happy unless as well as signed and witnessed statements of truth from the current owners they also supplied me with statements of truth from a few people who have no vested interest in the property.

I would also be asking for them to provide indemnity insurance . Do not speak to the farmer about your concerns however because it could invalidate the insurance if you did.
Advice given is not legally qualified and you are advised to gain a professional opinion

Flashy
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Re: Purchasing House with water and soak away in farmers fie

Post by Flashy » Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:40 am

Thanks for your reply. Our solicitor is asking if they have any written agreement but I don't think they do. Regarding the drop in value, the water could be sourced from a borehole, but the soakaway is an issue I suspect (without me having conversed with any expert).

I wonder how people go about encouraging a famer to agree to such a thing with no apparent benefits.

Collaborate
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Re: Purchasing House with water and soak away in farmers fie

Post by Collaborate » Sun Dec 31, 2017 3:56 pm

Flashy wrote:Thanks for your reply. Our solicitor is asking if they have any written agreement but I don't think they do. Regarding the drop in value, the water could be sourced from a borehole, but the soakaway is an issue I suspect (without me having conversed with any expert).

I wonder how people go about encouraging a famer to agree to such a thing with no apparent benefits.
You offer the farmer money, and pay their legal fees.

Flashy
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Re: Purchasing House with water and soak away in farmers fie

Post by Flashy » Sun Dec 31, 2017 4:16 pm

Ballpark for such things?

£100's/£1000's/£10,000's ?

Collaborate
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Re: Purchasing House with water and soak away in farmers fie

Post by Collaborate » Mon Jan 01, 2018 1:02 am

More than it reduces the value of your property by. More than it increases the value of theirs by. Add on quite a bit for all the faff.

I’d tell them you’d only consider it if they agree to pay a surveyor to advise you on it, but make it clear that you are not obliged to proceed if you still don’t fancy it.

Clifford Pope
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Re: Purchasing House with water and soak away in farmers fie

Post by Clifford Pope » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:57 am

Does the spring supply any other property or agricultural use?
You need to consider what would happen if that use increased - farmer builds another house, holiday lets, caravan park, etc.
Also the depth of the pipe. It might be fine if the land is only used for grazing, but supposing the farmer decides to deep-plough it? I've known people have their pipe damaged by ploughing and then had a legal battle lasting years to force the farmer to compensate and agree to re-instatement.

Collaborate
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Re: Purchasing House with water and soak away in farmers fie

Post by Collaborate » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:54 am

Collaborate wrote:More than it reduces the value of your property by. More than it increases the value of theirs by. Add on quite a bit for all the faff.

I’d tell them you’d only consider it if they agree to pay a surveyor to advise you on it, but make it clear that you are not obliged to proceed if you still don’t fancy it.
Sorry - got that the wrong way round. You'd have to meet their legal fees and surveying costs, and you should certainly take the opportunity, as presumably you're employing a surveyor for the purchase, to pay them for further advice regarding this issue.

Flashy
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Re: Purchasing House with water and soak away in farmers fie

Post by Flashy » Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:01 am

Tihs is clearly a bigger issue than I realised.

Once we approach the farmer, does that mean any form of indemnity insurance would cease to bcome an option?

I would perhaps argue that the most to offer would be legal fee's + the cost of borehole (£2.5k+), but not sure about the soakaway part yet.

ukmicky
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Re: Purchasing House with water and soak away in farmers fie

Post by ukmicky » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:28 pm

[quote="Flashy"]

Once we approach the farmer, does that mean any form of indemnity insurance would cease to become an option?
quote] Basically yes, most if not all state you cannot make contact with the servient landowner in any regards to do with the easement.
Advice given is not legally qualified and you are advised to gain a professional opinion

arborlad
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Re: Purchasing House with water and soak away in farmers fie

Post by arborlad » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:51 am

Best continued here:
Flashy wrote:A property we are in looking at buying has its water and septic soakaway on neighbouring farmers land.

The water and soakaway have been as such for over 100 years. The current owners asked for permission to maintain the pipework on occassion, but never to use the water nor soakaway.

Does this have an effect on the prospect of obtaining prescriptive rights, should it ever be necessary, to use and/or maintain the supply and soak away?

There appears no easment in the land registry, but we are investigating whether this is an error.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people

MacadamB53
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Re: Purchasing House with water and soak away in farmers fie

Post by MacadamB53 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:33 pm

arborlad wrote:Best continued here:
Flashy wrote:A property we are in looking at buying has its water and septic soakaway on neighbouring farmers land.

The water and soakaway have been as such for over 100 years. The current owners asked for permission to maintain the pipework on occassion, but never to use the water nor soakaway.

Does this have an effect on the prospect of obtaining prescriptive rights, should it ever be necessary, to use and/or maintain the supply and soak away?

There appears no easment in the land registry, but we are investigating whether this is an error.
to be clear, the property has been:

using water supplied by a spring on the neighbour’s land - via pipes and a tank on the neighbour’s land
using a soakaway on the neighbour’s land

in a similar and consistent fashion since when?

is the neighbour’s land registered?

kind regards, Mac

Flashy
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Re: Purchasing House with water and soak away in farmers fie

Post by Flashy » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:36 pm

Thanks. (Sorry , thought it was a slightly different question as I'm now asking about the fine details of a prescriptive right, rather than how to purchase)

So, this is my updated question:

Does asking for permission to enter a field to inspect/maintain pipework have an effect on the prospect of obtaining prescriptive rights, should it ever be necessary, to use and/or maintain the supply and soak away? (or does it just affect the prescriptive right to maintain)

Flashy
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Re: Purchasing House with water and soak away in farmers fie

Post by Flashy » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:48 pm

MacadamB53 wrote:to be clear, the property has been:

using water supplied by a spring on the neighbour’s land - via pipes and a tank on the neighbour’s land
using a soakaway on the neighbour’s land

in a similar and consistent fashion since when?

is the neighbour’s land registered?

kind regards, Mac
Hi Mac,
Yes, both septic soak away and spring water have been used in an identical fashion (only pipework maintained, etc) since early 1900's when they were installed with the neighbouring Land Owner and their then tenants knowledge and agreement. Documentation of pipework layed across land by the then council exists. Neighbours land and was sold to current owners family in 1930's. No relevant easement seems to appear on land (though we are suspicious there should have been).

MacadamB53
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Re: Purchasing House with water and soak away in farmers fie

Post by MacadamB53 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:30 pm

Hi Flashy,

are all pertinent properties registered?

kind regards, Mac

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