Do I Have Any Rights?

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gardener23
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:14 pm

Do I Have Any Rights?

Post by gardener23 » Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:34 pm

I moved into my flat in 1986. Back then it was a house of multiple occupation and I shared the garden with three other tenants. The garden was a blank canvas, nobody hardly used it and I transformed it into a lovely mature garden, every single plant was grown by myself and over the years I felt like it was my own garden. My tenancy agreement doesn't even mention a garden and one of the reasons my rent never went up was because my old landlord knew I maintained the garden.
Back in 2005 my old landlords sold the property and I've suffered seven years of harrassment trying to make me move out. The new landlord turned the house upstairs illegally into 3 self contained flats. Over the past few years tenants have been put in deliberately to cause me problems, things in the garden have been damaged, people have been urinating up against my greenhouse etc and I just want some space to myself.
In Oct 2011 my landlord declared himself bankrupt and the three flats above me have to be converted back into one family home. Could the garden be legally divided into two so I can have my own space?
The whole thing is a legal nightmare, my flat has been taken over by Mortgage Express whilst the other three above that now need to be converted back to a house is being taken over by a different firm.
Do I have any rights to a garden I've maintained for 25 years or am I at the mercy of whoever is put in the house again?
Friends and family say that if I've maintained land for 12-14 years it can be claimed as mine yet my old soliciter always said that wasn't the case.
Can anyone give me any advice?

juliet
Posts: 715
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2008 6:26 pm

Re: Do I Have Any Rights?

Post by juliet » Wed Mar 07, 2012 10:35 pm

No, you don't have any rights and yes, you are at the mercy of the landlord. But landlords always love a tenant that takes good care of a garden so perhaps you could negotiate sole/divided use and have that written and defined in your new tenancy agreement.

gardener23
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:14 pm

Re: Do I Have Any Rights?

Post by gardener23 » Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:06 am

That's not what I wanted to hear.
The one thing I cannot do is sign a new tenancy agreement, that way I lose my protected status.
The only reason I've managed to stay here for the past seven years is because I have that protected tenancy.
Also, my last landlord hated the fact I maintained the garden as he knew that was one of the reasons I didn't want to leave.

juliet
Posts: 715
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2008 6:26 pm

Re: Do I Have Any Rights?

Post by juliet » Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:37 pm

Ah right, a protected tenancy. I had wondered why the landlord hadn't just got shot of you so that explains it. You don't have right in terms of the garden but I think that you could maybe negotiate a separate garden tenancy then? Worth asking although the landlord may want extra money?

andrew54
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Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2005 7:25 pm
Location: north yorkshire

Re: Do I Have Any Rights?

Post by andrew54 » Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:27 am

You might have a claim to get ownership of the garden through adverse possession. For that you must have had sole occupation of the garden for 10 or 12 years. Have others entered the garden?

Anon
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon May 11, 2009 11:07 am

Re: Do I Have Any Rights?

Post by Anon » Sat Mar 10, 2012 2:23 am

Gardener23, one thing to consider if you're contemplating the Adverse Possession route, is that you must not acknowledge the "real owner" -e.g. don't ask Mortgage Express if they'll divide the garden so you can exclusively rent part of it.

"My tenancy agreement doesn't even mention a garden and one of the reasons my rent never went up was because my old landlord knew I maintained the garden." Did your old landlord actually tell you this? It's coming dangerously close to being interpretable that your old landlord gave you permission to maintain/enjoy the garden, which would go against the "Adverse" claim.

It might possibly be worth downloading the Land Registry details and Title Plan(s) for the property to check if the garden is actually included within the boundary of the flats, and who owns it now.

Other posters will probably come along with more detailed advice and questions about the viability of an Adverse Possession claim.

pilman
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Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2010 4:08 pm

Re: Do I Have Any Rights?

Post by pilman » Sat Mar 10, 2012 11:36 am

When a tenant takes possession of land owned by the same landlord and can show exclusive possession that would be suffcient to be considered adverse possession, the law recognises that the extent o fthe land demised by th elease is then extended to include the additional possessed land.

That is possibly the best scenarion you could find yourself in.
The garden may now be considered part of the property that you rent, so could be said to be part of the tenancy agreement that is protected.

You could state that as a fact when dealing with the current owner of the property, but as advised above you need to verify who owns the flat and who owns the garden.

Your description of different people owning the upstairs part of the house suggests that it needs to be clarified as to who owns the other parts of the original property.

gardener23
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:14 pm

Re: Do I Have Any Rights?

Post by gardener23 » Sat Mar 10, 2012 11:46 am

The garden was never really an issue back in the 1980's. Nobody used it so I started cultivating it and maintaining it. I was also the only tenant who kept the hallways and pathways outside clear and when others rent went up, mine didn't. It was mentioned by my old landlords that this was the reason my rent didn't go up. They are no longer contactable and were very old when they sold the property back in 2005.
So basically from 1986 to 2005 I was the only tenant who ever used the garden, others were allowed but never bothered.
Since 2005 th next landlords who made my life a misery have put problem tenants in constantly. Last year being the worst when a family of Romanian gypsies and there friends occupied the garden almost daily all throughout the summer, damaging my plants and urinating on my greenhouse etc. So I haven't had exclusive access since 2005.
But now, that landlord has declared himself bankrupt and I am the only tenant left in the building. The remaining three flats above have now been secured with security grills and are in the process of having to be sold as one to turn it back into a family home. The person who has been appointed to look after them tells me he is dealing with three different mortgage companies who have given mortgages on three flats that no longer exist as the council insist it is turned back into a family home.
Luckily my flat in the basement is protected and self contained but I dread who will turn up next and who I will have to share the garden with.
Like I said Mortage Express are trying to get possession of my flat but my soliciter tells me they can't as I am a protected tenant. But my flat is not now owned by the person taking the three flats above? It's all very confusing.
I obviously would love to have exclusive access to the garden but would be happy if it were divided in two so I could have my own space.
My soliciter has got the land registry details so I must check if the garden is actually included within the boundary of the flats and who owns it now as the rest of the house seems a real legal nightmare.

pilman
Posts: 2985
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2010 4:08 pm

Re: Do I Have Any Rights?

Post by pilman » Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:15 pm

If the three flats were mortgaged as leasehold properties, then I assume the bankrupt retained the freehold title, which possibly means there is a Trustee now owning the freehold.

Your solicitor can look at Land Registry documents for you if you need to pay £200 an hour for that to be done, or you can go on the Land Registry web-site and buy for £32 the title documents and title plans for each of the three leasehold flats and the freehold title of the landlord.

The garden could be shown as being part of each demised leasehold property, or could be entirely owned by the original landlord who you say is bankrupt.
Then you need to contact the Trustee appointed by the court, not the mortgage company who is seeking to repossess your flat.

If you never had a tenancy over the garden, then Mortgage Express have no claim to repossess the garden, only the flat used as security for the mortgage on it.

If you can claim to have been in adverse possession of the garden land for 12 years from 1985 to 1997 this will add another compexity to what already appears to a complex legal matter involving four mortgage companies, a Trustee in Bankrupcy and a protected tenant with a possible claim of adverse possession against the garden owner in 1997.

If the property was not registered at Land Registry in 1997, then the title of the garden "could" have been extinguished in that year through adverse possession, so the "old landlord" had no legal title when he purported to sell the garden in 2005.

The words "extremely complex legal problems" will certainly apply to this posting on a web-site identified as "Garden Law".
It now extends to a garden, four flats, a Trustee in Bankrupcy, The Land Registration Act and the law of adverse possession.

Would learned counsel for the plaintiff please step forward.

gardener23
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:14 pm

Re: Do I Have Any Rights?

Post by gardener23 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 6:30 am

I keep reading up on adverse possession and all I see is about squatters. Do I have to be squatting to claim adverse possession?
Also, does the fact problem tenants in the past five years have had access to the garden ruin my chances of adverse possession?

gardener23
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:14 pm

Re: Do I Have Any Rights?

Post by gardener23 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:22 am

I'm also curious if the fact I'm a protected tenant could help me with possession of the garden or could it make it possible for me to be evicted?
Another thing I'm curious about is how the last landlord done lots of things illegally without planning permission and if that would help or hinder me?

juliet
Posts: 715
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2008 6:26 pm

Re: Do I Have Any Rights?

Post by juliet » Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:30 am

I don't understand how you can rent a house with a shared garden but then claim adverse possession of the garden? In my head I was thinking about the way that we rent flats out with shared gardens - and usually one person is more interested in maintaining than another. We have never had people claiming a right to a garden because they had maintained - because it is done through permission as part of the tenancy agreement (implied if not written into it).

I thought that the OP wants to claim the ownership (freehold) of it? Have I misread or I am being thick? :)

gardener23
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:14 pm

Re: Do I Have Any Rights?

Post by gardener23 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:07 am

juliet wrote:I don't understand how you can rent a house with a shared garden but then claim adverse possession of the garden? In my head I was thinking about the way that we rent flats out with shared gardens - and usually one person is more interested in maintaining than another. We have never had people claiming a right to a garden because they had maintained - because it is done through permission as part of the tenancy agreement (implied if not written into it).

I thought that the OP wants to claim the ownership (freehold) of it? Have I misread or I am being thick? :)
The garden is not mentioned in my tenancy agreement. I was the only tenant who used and maintained the garden between 1986 and 2005. Since then I've had 7 years of harrassment and problem tenants deliberately trying to cause aggravation and damage. I thought I might be able to go down the adverse possession route?

juliet
Posts: 715
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2008 6:26 pm

Re: Do I Have Any Rights?

Post by juliet » Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:35 pm

Was it obvious though that the garden belonged to the property? Either way other posters are better than me in this sort of area so hopefully, they'll be along to put me right. I hope that you do have some sort of claim to the garden!

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