How to buy unregistered land

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lunchy
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How to buy unregistered land

Post by lunchy » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:00 pm

Hi,

Apologies if this is in the wrong forum.

I've been maintaing a piece of land behind my house for the last 7 years. About 3 years ago I approched the land owner if I could buy it from him and he turned me down.

I left it at that but carried on maintaining it for my own use.

To cut a long story short, I have since found out the land is not registered and is not in actual fact owned by the gentleman I thought it was. The last registered owner of the land is a brewery that dissolved in the 60s.

I could wait a further 5 years (so I've been maintaining it for 12 years overall) but I don't want the chap that thinks he owns it (or at least pretends to own it) to buy it out from under me in the mean time.

Any suggesstions on the best way for me to proceed to try and purchase the land legitimately?

Thanks.

jonahinoz
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Re: How to buy unregistered land

Post by jonahinoz » Fri Dec 08, 2017 9:24 am

About 3 years ago I approached the land owner if I could buy it from him and he turned me down.

Hi Lunchbox,

A "little learning" and all that ....

I suspect that you offering to buy the land is evidence that you know you do not possess this land. The apparent owner could use that to refute your claim that you do own it.

On the other hand, I assume that he is aware that you have been maintaining the land, at least since you told him you were. By not telling you to stop maintaining it, he has not exercised his rights, so you can refute his ownership.

I'm guessing that your "12 year clock" started ticking from the time that you offered to buy, or maybe not, if the person you offered to buy from does not challenge any claim you make in five years.

I'm guessing somebody here can put that in more legal terminology?

602

MacadamB53
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Re: How to buy unregistered land

Post by MacadamB53 » Fri Dec 08, 2017 11:57 am

jonahinoz wrote:About 3 years ago I approached the land owner if I could buy it from him and he turned me down.

Hi Lunchbox,

A "little learning" and all that ....

I suspect that you offering to buy the land is evidence that you know you do not possess this land. The apparent owner could use that to refute your claim that you do own it.

On the other hand, I assume that he is aware that you have been maintaining the land, at least since you told him you were. By not telling you to stop maintaining it, he has not exercised his rights, so you can refute his ownership.

I'm guessing that your "12 year clock" started ticking from the time that you offered to buy, or maybe not, if the person you offered to buy from does not challenge any claim you make in five years.

I'm guessing somebody here can put that in more legal terminology?

602
Hi John W,

the moment the OP approached the person they thought was the owner to negotiate a purchase he doomed any future claim for adverse possession to failure no matter how many more years he continues to tend to the land (if that fact is made known to HMLR) because it is an acknowledgement that he himself is not the owner and an AP claimant must show they have dealt with the land as if they thought they owned it.

the fact the owner didn’t then evict the OP doesn’t mean the AP claim is back on - it means the owner doesn’t mind the OP tending to his land...

jonahinoz
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Re: How to buy unregistered land

Post by jonahinoz » Sat Dec 09, 2017 8:31 am

Hi Mac,

I'll accept that Lunchbox's AP claim-clock has potentially stopped ticking, and is beyond repair. I'm less happy about the Heir Apparent's clock still ticking, as he has not carried out an required Act of Possession. ("Get off my land!").

Lunchbox could carry on maintaining the plot, and eventually lodge an AP claim (which would be subject to the normal constraints) and hope that the Heir Apparent raises no objection, or has moved away, or "popped his clogs", or whatever.

Lunchbox could also make strenuous efforts to trace the Paper Owner ... visit to Land Registry? ... visit to LA Planning Dept to inspect the Planning Application file for his own house? ... contact the Local History and Family History Societies? ... visit local Reference Library and Archives to examine historic maps, see who used to own the surrounding land.

My LA Archives in Swansea require visitors to hold a Reader's Ticket, which was free, but had to be arranged in advance. Amongst other records, they held a map and specifications for laying the road drains outside our house in Glynneath. My LA sold me (£6) a copy of their 1952 conveyance for purchase of the adjacent 35 acres for a Council housing estate. This was a public record. It showed that they had NOT purchased the back-lane behind my house. I'm guessing that the Highway Authority will have similar public records relating to the road on the other side of this plot.

John W

Collaborate
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Re: How to buy unregistered land

Post by Collaborate » Sat Dec 09, 2017 6:06 pm

jonahinoz wrote: Lunchbox could also make strenuous efforts to trace the Paper Owner ... visit to Land Registry? ...
John W
Land Registry is the last place to go to find who owns unregistered land.

ukmicky
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Re: How to buy unregistered land

Post by ukmicky » Sat Dec 09, 2017 7:11 pm

Few things in regards to stopping the clock because the previous posts are not quite correct.

There are basic rules as to what is considered acknowledgment of title and what must be done for it to have legal standing. . This land is unregistered so the clock can be stopped through acknowledging the title of the paper owner but that acknowledgment needs to be in writing and it also must be signed and be to the paper owner or his agents and not someone else who has no legal interest in the land and it also must be worded in such a way that it acknowledges that the paper owner has better title.

If this claim was under the LRA Act 2002 as the LRA Act 2002 has no limitations period there is no clock to stop . Under the LRA Act 2002 the only way to prevent an adverse possessor from getting to the 10 year period required and then gaining the land when a claim is made is to enter into a formal agreement like a tenancy or evict the squatter before the 10 years are up or within 2 years after the claim is made.

The land registry will not be able to tell you who owns this land as its unregistered but they may have details of titles surrounding this land which could contain details which could lead to answers as to who the paper owner is but as the adverse possession route is still open to you why try and buy it. .
Advice given is not legally qualified and you are advised to gain a professional opinion

ukmicky
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Re: How to buy unregistered land

Post by ukmicky » Sat Dec 09, 2017 8:33 pm

Few more things


Even if you had sent a letter which under the law acknowledge the title of the paper owner, if your wife or children used this land your acknowledgment will not automatically bar them from claiming .


In regards to who owns this land now , If it was owned by a dissolved company and the land was not sold to pay off debts etc the land became bona vacantia property and was passed to the crown, which would mean adverse possession wise your talking 30 years not 12. The treasury solicitor deals with the sale of bona vacantia property and you can get details of how to do purchase bona vacantia property here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publicati ... anies-bvc1

Edit

However as its unregistered someone proving it was owned by a dissolved company and become bona vacantia property would be almost impossible, so you could probably stick with 12 years adverse possession timeline . In fact I wouldn't mention the dissolved company part again to anyone as it adds a complication that you may not need to add.
Advice given is not legally qualified and you are advised to gain a professional opinion

lunchy
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Re: How to buy unregistered land

Post by lunchy » Sun Dec 10, 2017 8:24 pm

Thanks for the responses everybody.

So I can see I made a mistake by contacting "Mr Smith" and asking to purchase the land from him. However as I have since found out he doesn't own the land, does that really matter?

£900 of fees and surveyors digging around in the Yorkshire archives came up with the dissolved brewery from the 60's last being the legal owners of the land in question.

The council are also in agreement that Mr Smith doesn't own the land.

I believe Mr Smith has previously denounced ownership of the land, although not to me. A neighbour has an ongoing legal dispute with him over another matter.

So if Mr Smith is out of the equation, what is my best method of action to take?

My plan is to replace the fence at the end of next summer if I have no complaints. I've gone from looking after the land by strimming it a couple of times a summer and generally staying on top of it, to ripping it all up, levelling and seeding it. The visual difference might cause eyebrows to be raised. The new fence is going to cost me about £4000 for the job I want doing. Obviously I don't want to have to take it down at any point in the near future should anybody complain etc.

I'm remortgaging in April so that will be a good time to raise some extra funds to purchase the land in question if that's the way to go.

I read that if the land had reverted back to the crown, and they refused to sell it, then it's a one time refusal and that would be it.

Part of me wants to keep my head down and use it (I only want it to make the garden bigger for the kids to play on), but there's a risk I'll rub someone up the wrong way and eventually lose out.

However if I try and do things the right way, such as originally asking to buy it, there is also a risk I could lose out.

EDIT

Thought I had posted the above last night but failed to hit submit correctly.

Thanks ukmicky for the link.

Collaborate
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Re: How to buy unregistered land

Post by Collaborate » Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:10 am

Just fence it off and after 12 years claim possessory title. It's clear that attempting to track down who has the right to buy it, and then negotiate a deal, is fraught with difficulty. As soon as you fence it off you have a better claim to everyone else (unless they can prove prior possession to the exclusion of all others).

SwitchRich
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Re: How to buy unregistered land

Post by SwitchRich » Wed Dec 13, 2017 8:19 am

Nice bit of detail there ukmicky! :)
Real interesting to read up on that subject.

jonahinoz
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Re: How to buy unregistered land

Post by jonahinoz » Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:27 am

Hi,

A fence can be as little as two posts with a bit of wire stretched between. Probably best if the posts are firm enough to withstand a bit of tugging. Two 3" square posts and four bags of Postfix (Stupidly easy to use, half-fill hole with water, tip Postfix into water, have a cup of coffee.)

If that doesn't draw the Paper Owner out of the woodwork, erect a small shed (£200 or less), see if that produces a reaction. A lot cheaper than a £4,000 punt.

If challenged, reply "It's none of your business!" The Paper Owner will reply that it IS his business. "What gives you that idea?" If the challenger cannot justify his challenge, he probably isn't the Paper Owner, so don't say anything that can be used against you. If he IS the Paper Owner, it's time to reach for your cheque book.

As for "Mr Smith", your claim trumps his (I think). All he can do is to protest your claim when Land Registry notify potentially interested parties (neighbours) when you eventually register your claim. My experience is that objections were rapidly withdrawn when I mentioned I had Legal Assistance insurance. I very much doubt that my insurers would have helped, but they didn't know that.

John W

lunchy
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Re: How to buy unregistered land

Post by lunchy » Thu May 24, 2018 11:11 am

Apologies for resurrecting this post but I have some progress.

I've been maintaining the land a lot more in the last few months than in previous years. It's now all cut back and there is a lawn wehre there was once 8 foot tall weeds and dense brambles.

I had a fence guy come out and give me a quote for a new fence (replacing the existing battered fence), £3k.

My wife feels this is too much considering the risk involved of Mr Smith kicking up a fuss.

She has suggested we just re fence two thirds of the land - the lawned bit we will use the most.

Legally, by changing the boundary will this have any adverse impact on our claim?

It will reduce the costs by about a third.

Could I fence two thirds now and in a couple of years time, if I continue to maintain the rest outside of the new fency, with no compalints fence the whole lot then?

arborlad
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Re: How to buy unregistered land

Post by arborlad » Thu May 24, 2018 12:01 pm

lunchy wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 11:11 am
Apologies for resurrecting this post but I have some progress.

I've been maintaining the land a lot more in the last few months than in previous years. It's now all cut back and there is a lawn wehre there was once 8 foot tall weeds and dense brambles.

I had a fence guy come out and give me a quote for a new fence (replacing the existing battered fence), £3k.

My wife feels this is too much considering the risk involved of Mr Smith kicking up a fuss.

She has suggested we just re fence two thirds of the land - the lawned bit we will use the most.

Legally, by changing the boundary will this have any adverse impact on our claim?

It will reduce the costs by about a third.

Could I fence two thirds now and in a couple of years time, if I continue to maintain the rest outside of the new fency, with no compalints fence the whole lot then?



All a bit confusing, any chance of a sketch to help the understanding. One of the requirements for AP is to have enclosed the land and excluded all others, a delay of two years will simply put your claim back two years.

What is the existing fence, what do you intend replacing it with?
arborlad

smile...it confuses people

Roblewis
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Re: How to buy unregistered land

Post by Roblewis » Thu May 24, 2018 10:12 pm

First of all it is not essential to fence off but it is essential to show that you act as the owner.

Second there was a case recently where a farmer rented a field and continued to farm it after the lease expired. The owner requested he vacate but did not enforce the removal. After more than 15years post lease end the farmer tried to claim back the land. The courts held that ownership was lost and the sitting farmer was given AP.

lunchy
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Re: How to buy unregistered land

Post by lunchy » Fri May 25, 2018 11:11 am

Image

https://ibb.co/jwYMAo

I want to replace the battered fence in it's entirety. Its a post and rail fence that has fallen over in sections. I want to replace with 6ft by 6ft panels. I would be taking a small section of my current fence down so it's all open.

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