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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
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Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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My husband and I bought a plot of land about ten years ago.

Customer Question

My husband and I bought a plot of land about ten years ago. We built a house and built a wall on the boundary line at the request of the seller. This has never been queried. Having to sell the house I received a land registry document which showed the boundary
In a different position. This made it seem as if we had built on land not ours. I have a buyer and was prepared to exchange Contracts on 13th May but was advised not to because of the boundary problem. I have now had to agree to use the seller's solicitor to verify the bondary plus a surveyor, nominated by them. The reply I have received is that the seller is prepared to accept £25,000 for the small piece of land involved. My contention us that the land was never disputed and the wall boundary was accepted by the seller. We should not now have to pay an additional sum, we were always under the impression that we had used the correct boundary. I have been told that there is a ruling re "squatters' rights" that if any land is occupied for ten years it becomes the property of the squatter. Your comments on this would be very much appreciated. I am a widow almost 78 years old and need to sell the property.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.

The legal phrase for “squatters rights” is adverse possession. If the land is registered at the land registry and you have occupied the land and used it and treated it as your own (built a wall around it) without consent or objection and not in secret, then you can apply to the land registry to have it registered as yours under the doctrine of adverse possession

may be a problem that you built the wall in its current position with consent but let the neighbour argue that.

What would happen is that you would get possessory title only of this small piece of land but, if the neighbour objected to the application to register the land in your name, which seems likely if he is asking for £25,000 for it, then it would end up in the Land Tribunal for them to determine the issue.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Please don’t forget to rate the service positive. It’s an important part of the process by which experts get paid.

Best wishes.

FES.

F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8960
Experience: I have been practising for 30 years.
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Customer: replied 8 months ago.
That was very helpful, Thankyou. I have spoken with my solicitor, in whom I don't have much confidence, and agreed that we will try this way, but also state that the agreement I signed was in response to the previous owner's daughter having said that they would just transfer that small area of land over. The letter I received stated that they wanted me to pay £250!
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.

I am surprised that your solicitor did not already consider this.

Good luck with this.

Best wishes.

FES.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thankyou very much for your assistance. It is imperative that I sell the house as the loans which were taken out, interest only, have now been running for over ten years. Since my husband died almost six years ago I have been paying nearly £800 per month out of my basic pension. I shall be 78 in a fewmonths and this has been very distressing. Your replies have eased that somewhat for me. Best regards
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.

I was pleased to be able to help.

Best wishes.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
It seems that the purchaser cannot wait any longer as his offer of loan is soon to terminate.
There is one point, on the Land a Registry title it shows the boundary as including a relevant section of the communal access road which runs at th back of the properties. About four of these existing properties have sold off part of their garden and houses are being built. Since I am told I have bought part of this road, does this mean that I can charge the owners of the four new properties which are bringing built, to pass over my section! Which is the only access to their properties? Title number NT414707.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.

Are you able to attach the plan?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I believe so, but I am not at home at present. I will send as soon as I return home. Thankyou again for your assistance.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.

Until later then. The first thought I had with this is that if you own this land, you can make the same demands of the developer to transfer this land to him as are now being made of you in respect of the other piece of land.

It depends really whether it’s the developer that made the mess of this. It’s unlikely that the developer however would be able to claim adverse possession.

If however all the other surrounding properties had access over this piece of land for 20 years and you had never objected before, they can claim an easement under the Prescription Act.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
My husband's company was the developer, and he died six years ago, so I think that's not feasible.My granddaughter phoned the Land Registry on my behalf and she said. "I've spoken to the Land Registry and they are adamant that is the legal boundary.The faint line is the wall as picked up on the ordinance survey map. They said its up to solicitors now. "
I have attempted to photo the document and attach. One copy us from the land registry, the second is from Mansfield District Council. The latte shows the boundary to which we built. I am very grateful for your support. Have you an idea how long the application for adverse possession should take. The prospective purchaser has told the Agent that he will not now proceed with the purchase if there is continued delay Once again, very many thanks. *****
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.

Thank you. Can you explain which is the part of the land which the neighbours want £25,000 for which is the part of the land over which you are saying others have access? Please refer to the land registry plan because that’s the most helpful. Could you please explain exactly what is where? Thank you

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Reaccess, I have only owned the part access road for just over ten years so no one has used it longer than that whilst in my possession, but I never considered that to be part of the purchase. I am surprised that anyone could sell part of a communal access road? To the right of the plot is the access road. The boundary shows an indentation which is an electricity substation. To the left of the plot you might see a faint line just to the left of the red boundary. The area between that line and the boundary, as defined by land registry, is the area for which they are asking £25 000. I would send a copy of the sirveyor's letter but it is quite long and I don't know if it would be clear enough. What do you think?
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.

When you say left and right, that obviously doesn’t mean a lot to me because I’m looking at a plan with North-South East West on. However I can see what you mean.

On the land registry plan, the access to the right of the property, north-west on the plan appears to be blue. What is the reference in the deed itself to that blue area in the plan?

The area to the left of the property, south-east on the plan, which they want £25,000 for, is that the area which is marked 36.40 on the plan? The plan is quite clear that you do not own that area outside the red line. Ignoring the argument that is going on at the moment, is it likely that the boundary to the left, south-east of the property, was simply put in the wrong place many years ago? I’m wondering how such a fundamental error is not including a piece of land which was built part of your property, would not be included in the plan and how neither you nor anyone else’s noticed it in the past, until now.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Good morning Mr Smith. Thankyou for all the trouble you are taking on my behalf. I think you might have solved the problem. I had not realised any significance regarding the blue area, but the letter ftom the Surveyor states that the blue area remains the property of the seller. If this is the case then the measurements have been taken from the wrong side of the access road. I believe that the and building are, therefore in the right place. I do so hope that is right because this is really causing me many sleepless nights and worry. It has already taken all my savings and, being on basic pension, the prospective purchaser backing out, I am totally lost. I have attached two pages of the Surveyor's letter. Hope I haven't sent the same page twice.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
That should read ...... The boundary and building are in the right place. Fourth line.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.

That would possibly explain it which case, it would be a matter of getting the title at the land Registry rectified. If the neighbour wanting £25,000 becomes obstructive, then it’s for the land tribunal resolve the issue.

However you need to know what the reference in the Land Registry Title Deed is to the area covered in blue. You need to look at your title deed and see what it says.

I suggest that you also get a copy of the neighbour’s title deed plan and plan to see what area the extent of their land is. You can get it online from this link

https://eservices.landregistry.gov.uk/www/wps/portal/!ut/p/b1/04_SjzS0tDQwMTIxMjLXj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfGjzOKNjSxMDA1NjDwsjM3MDTxN3dyNDUNMjQ1MjPWDU_P0c6McFQH3SLFU/

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thankyou again for your help. I have purchased a copy of the previous owners' title plan which is attached. I can't find an explanation of the colours. The blue area is that which we purchased and worked to when building. The pink area belongs to the original owners. The yellow area is the communal access road which was marked blue in the copy of my title plan. The Surveyor's letter stated that blue on the plan belonged to the previous owners. I have not seen the plan to which the. Sirveyor referred. I am at a loss to understand why the yellow area has been added to our boundary. This is what makes our boundary incorrect. Please do you have any comments on this? Regards. Christine
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.

The explanation would be on the title deed and not on the plan. There was nothing attached.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I had forgotten to look for "add files". Hope I have selected the right on. I shall order the title deed. Thankyou again.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.

Thank you. I have the plan that now shows the yellow, blue and pink areas. This is presumably the plan of next-door because the green area, is the area which has been removed from the title and is now registered under NT 414707 which is your property.

I know need the title deed wording from next door also.

You are probably then going to need the transfer deed and the plan which is also available from the land Registry, but not online, which is the transfer deed from when you purchased the land from next door.

Incidentally, regarding the yellow area which is the right of way, can you do anything with that or is it in effect a useless piece of land to you? The reason I mention that is because if it is of no use to you, why would you have bought it? That would fit in with the earlier point you made that the plan is defective and that the measurement should actually come from your side, the South-east side of the yellow area right-of-way and not the north-west far side

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I shall attempt to find our documents... I have five boing files for this property. I shall request a copy of the title deed for next door.The yellow areais the communal access road which I have never used. However, if I am supposed to own this, would I have the right to charge the four people who are building off the access road, and requiring access to their properties across "my" section?
Having instructed him about two weeks ago to go for the adverse possession, and contact the solicitor for the vendor to ask why the original verbal agreement to transfer ownership of the small area of land was now a £25000 charge, the young llad who is dealing with this, at the solicitors, said he had written to the Solictor but didn't remember me saying anything about adverse possession!I have jus found out that my solicitor had not notified the prospective purchaser's solicitor about the boundary problem until they said, on 13th May, that they were in a position to signDoes the extended use of "my.just answer" come into force automatically or do I have to ask for it to be put into effect ?Thankyou again for your help.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.

I need to know exactly what the land Registry deeds say about the coloured areas. Your recollection is, I am sorry to have to say, not sufficient.

I only answer questions, I don’t know about extended membership how that part of the site works but you can of course email the site and they will advise you.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thankyou again for your replies, and please accept my apologies for the typos in the last email.I have found this document in the files and shall continue to look for the others. I have difficulty adding files as my iPad is rather unresponsive. I might have sent one page twice.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.

The documents are out of focus and very difficult to read. However, I have managed to read them.

In title number NT 414707 there is a transfer referred to dated 11 November 2005. That is the transfer to you and you are going to need to get a copy of that transfer and the transfer plan.

Incidentally, there is a restrictive covenant not to use the land for anything other than amenity land (2 of the charges register) so I assume that there is an indemnity policy in place in respect of that breach.

On the final page, you will see that it says and coloured brown is the part of the road included in the title.

It says that the land coloured blue is still coloured blue. That’s because sometimes, for some bizarre reason, the land registry change the colours on the title plans from that on the transfer plan.

However the colours only refer to the right of way 3 in the Charges register so we can discount those.

I think the situation here is that either the title plan is wrong for when you bought the property and the road should not have been included or if the title plan is correct and the road should have been included, there is a possibility that the house is built in the wrong place. I think the latter most unlikely that it was the intention that the road was not to be included (if it is no use) and that the whole plot you were buying would be moved further along.

This is not going to be quick to sort. If the owner of the adjoining property steadfastly refuses to let you have the title to the piece of land on which your house is built, but you are faced with a court application to have the court determine where the boundary should really be.

What you might want to consider doing, because it’s risk-free and going to be quicker and cheaper than going to court is offering them, say, a much reduced sum of money, say, £10,000, which you would let them have on the sale of the property. The offered needs to be made on a without prejudice basis. However that decision is yours as to whether you want to do that or not.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thankyou once again for your help. I have found yet another file which seems to be earlier than the ones i have been checking. I shall find time over the weekend to look for the transfer document. I had thought to order plans etc in bulk but the cost is £100 which I can ill afford, and, since I slready have three of the documents which are included, would be wasteful.I have an appointment with my solicitor on Thursday next week. It might be that she is looking for part payment, which I am willing to do, but not to pay for her waiting time, nor the inefficiency of the young man (paid £98 per hour) who had been dealing with this.Best regards
Christine
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.

Thank you. It may be quite simply that the solicitor but the original purchase was negligent and hence, you might want to try another solicitor firm at some stage if this is not the same one. If it is the same one, and there is a potential allegation of negligence, there is a conflict of interest between them saving their own skins and dealing with this matter for you and hence, they should tell you to seek independent legal advice. What is almost certain from this is that there is absolutely no point in exchanging extensive correspondence with the neighbour unless the neighbour is prepared to mediate or capitulate.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
The present solicitor is not one I have used before, simply convenient because she is in the village, as is the selling agent. Despite this, she will get her secretary to walk to the post office, less than fifty metres from her office and post letters to the selling agent who is also less than fifty metres from her office. Stupid or what!
I had intended to ask in my last email, what would be the implications if I were to tell the present solicitor that I no longer want to retain her. Would any documents which she has obtained in relation to my conveyance, including copies of letters and emails from the prospective purchaser's solicitor, and the solicitor acting for the person from whom we bought the land, be handed over to me after I have paid her? Also would I be right to refuse to pay for the waiting time which she has already inducated as being included in her charges?Many thanks once again. Christine
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Indicated. Typo. Sorry.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.

Ask the solicitor then to see if there was a potential negligence claim against the solicitor that dealt with the conveyancing for you.

I can go one better than yours story of the secretary at the post office and that is solicitors putting letters in the post when the solicitor was upstairs and the agent was in the office below! They said the reason was that so there was a paper trail. Rubbish.

All the correspondence on the file belongs to you because you have paid for it. You are entitled to the original file, and the solicitor is not entitled to charge you for copying. If she wants to keep a copy, she has to pay for that herself. You are liable for any postage cost.

I’m not certain what you mean by paying for waiting time. If she is waiting in her office, something to arrive, she is not entitled to be paid for that time. If she was in court waiting for something to happen in front of the judge, she is entitled to be paid for that

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thankyou again. The waiting referred to was waiting to hear if there was any progress on the sale
.i am attaching the copy of the Transfer, together with copy of letter from the original vendor's solicitor, which clearly states that we bought the land almost eleven years ago. Surely this qualifies me for adverse possession. I trust these are legible. The note on the bottom of the. Title deed was written by Mr Hudson, vendor, and the trees were on the land not the opposite side of rhe access rosd.Regards. Christine
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.

Thank you.

That would appear to be a good result.

They are not entitled to charge unless the lease says that they can but you might want to pay the fee in any event just to keep the peace.

They would have to give you a reasonable time to rectify the situation but then again, it depends on the nature of the complaint.

Can I help further?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thankyou. I have undedtood everything you havebadvised me, but unfortunately I am lost with this reply.
Who is mot entitld to charge what? I dint undedtand where "the lesse" comes in. Mothimg has previously mentioned anout a lesse?
They would havr to gve time to rectify rhe situation, do you mean rectify rhe boundary dispute?
If so what would I need to do?
This doesny seem to relate to my case. Could it have come to me in error?Bestbregards.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.

I apologise. The answer was off another thread. It does happen from time to time. My fault.

What you should have had is:

Unfortunately, the plan attached to the Transfer is not there so we can’t see the extent of the land that you are supposed to have bought.

It seems odd that next door you bought the land off, calmly agreed for the boundary to go in the wrong place (if what they are saying is correct) and let you build a house on the land and only raise the issue now. That certainly wouldn’t assist them if this ended up at the Land Tribunal.

The letter from the solicitor does not assist you because the fact that you bought the land is not in dispute. It is the extent of the land which is problematical.

Because of the length of this thread, it no longer comes into my inbox as waiting because the system thinks it has concluded. Kind regards

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Does this mean that, although I have had one free week and paid for two months, I may no longer ask for your assistance?

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