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Thomas
Thomas, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 7617
Experience:  UK solicitor holding an England and Wales practising Certificate.
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A small piece of land roughly 3 meters by 3 meters was given

Resolved Question:

A small piece of land roughly 3 meters by 3 meters was given to us over 22 years ago from the neighbouring property to allow us access to our back yard. This land has now been sold and the the new owner requires the land to be returned. Do we have any rights over our access or do we have to return the land to him. This agreement was a verbal agreement with the previous owners and my father in law (who has since passed away) the property is still registered in his name although we have continued to trade from there.
The piece of land "given" to us is not registered in his name
Any advice would be much appreciated
Thank You M
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thanks for your question.
Is the land in question registered in your name or your father's name?
What is the justification for the new owner requiring the land to be returned?
Kind regards
Tom
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Part of the adjoining land has been sold to a property developer including the small triangle which was not registered in our name or my father in laws we have had use of it for about 23years now and the property next door put a fence up indicating this change

Thanks

Moya

Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.
Hi Moya,
Was the small triangle now sold the land which you said in your question was "..was given to us over 22 years ago from the neighbouring property"?
Kind regards,
Tom
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Thomas

yes the small triangle of land forms part of the land now sold to new owners

Thanks

Moya

Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.
Right, thanks Moya
So can you explain what happened when the land was originally "given" to you?
Tom
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello Thomas

Yes we can explain it and we also have some plans which were drawn up by the local council in 1992 showing the shape of the road which indicated that the triangle formed part of our property these plans were done by the council when they wanted to change the road layout from a 2 way traffic system to traffic running just one way

Thanks Moya

Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.
Hi Moya,
Yes, but what was the specific agreement that you had with the owner at the time.
Did they agree only verbally?
Did they agree to let you actually keep the land as your own, or did they just say that you could use it for access?
Kind regards
Tom
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello Thomas

Yes it was a verbal agreement only

As far as I know they gave the land to us as it was such a small piece that they didn't require it. It didn't have any impact on their business.

Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.
Thanks, ***** ***** answer now. 5 mins please.
Tom
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank You

Moya

Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.
Hi Moya
Thank you for your question and patience, I’m Tom and I’ll try to help you.
It’s a bit of a difficult situation because the legal title to land can only pass if it is in writing and fulfils certain formalities. The verbal agreement that you had with the owner to “give” him the land is not effective, which means that the legal title did not pass to you.
The owner might have intended you the land, but what he did does not actually make the land yours.
This means that you are left with attempting to establish your rights by other means. The short answer is that if there is a developer involved then you need to act quickly and see a local property solicitor.
The first option is to attempt to claim the land is be adverse possession. If a person has claimed the land and looked after it for a certain period of time then a person can sometimes claim what is termed “adverse possession” to the Land Registry in order to have it registered in their name.
If the land in question is unregistered then you must have been using it continuously for 12 years in order to claim possession of it and be registered as the registered proprietor at the Land Registry
If the land is registered then you need only have been using it continuously for 10 years in order to apply for adverse possession at the Land Registry. Notice of the application will be sent to the current registered proprietor of the land, who is obviously at liberty to object. It is therefore more difficult to claim adverse possession of land that is registered.
However, if the previous owner was letting you use the land then this may be a barrier to you claiming the landlord and the developer would certainly devote resources to stopping you doing this.
The alternative is to claim a right of access over the land. In order to acquire a right access (easement) over the land by long use a person(s) must have been using the access for a continuous period of 20 years. If they have then the legal easement shall have been acquired by prescription. You would have to prove this by producing evidence of the use of the land and by swearing statutory declarations confirming your use of it for access purposes.
The either case a solicitor would be able to make the relevant application to the land registry and you will have to see how you get on after that.
My goal is to provide you with a good service. If you feel you have received anything less, please reply back as I am happy to address follow-up issues specifically relating to your question.
Kind regards,
Tom
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