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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10263
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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The old privy's at the end of our street are jointly owned

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The old privy's at the end of our street are jointly owned by 2 rows of houses .On the 15th May ,without gaining permission from the council or ourselves , or other neighbours,they knocked it down .It has been left an eye sore since and though I have tried to get the council to get involved, there has been no action yet .It is right next door to our house and there have been 2 water leaks , an open sewer pipe cut ,a brick removed from our wall , and it has stopped viewers from viewing our home which is up for sale.How do we get these 2 people to put the area right as we think it might be a criminal offence ?

Can you explain the layout in more detail please?

Was this a row of privies of which you owned one and varies other people owned others?

Has whoever knocked it down knocked them all down, including yours?

You know why this has happened?

Would it be possible to attach a plan or sketch indicating the layout with some explanatory notes? Thanks.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi, just a sec and I will send you the before and after pics , then I'll do some notes

Thank you. Take your time.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Here are the pix
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I thought the outbuilding belonged to the council as it wasn't on our plans or the land registry .It turns out it a shared old building, four houses on our side (forever ago when they had outside toilets ) and the four houses we are back to back with all used them .Then 2 people our neighbour , and the landlord of another house decided to knock them down.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I don't know why this has happened .They asked us a while ago did we want to contribute to demolishing them .I said no as I believed they were the councils.Also we live in a conservation area and they've been there since late 1980's and could have been maintained .
Yes , all of the building has gone .They took the best stone away .
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
sorry 1880's
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The rubble lies on a main road called Hebden road .Ours number one Pear st ,and number*****are the 2 houses closest to the mess.I have tried to put pressure on the council to move it, as it needs a kerb , someone who knows what they are doing re pipes etc- but once we mentioned Mike Ellis was a councillor (one of the the 2 men who demolished it ) nothing has been heard since.We are desperate to get this resolved so we can sell our home which was up for sale when they did it .
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
over to you !

Thank you. I can tell you now why they’ve demolished this. Apart from the fact that it was an eyesore as it was and it still is an eyesore, they have sold the stone.

The local authority will not be interested with regard to the demolition of this unless it was a listed building which seems unlikely.

However, because of the eyesore which has been left, the council can issue the culprits with a cleaning up notice called a section 215 notice.

You would also need to look on the title plans to see whether you owned part of this you just had the right to use it because if you owned part of it, then the removal of the stone is theft which becomes a police matter.

If it’s not obvious from the title deeds owns the area, take a copy of the title plan of your own property and highlight this area on it and send it to the Land Registry with form SIM

and the land Registry will come back and tell you whether the property is registered or not. If it’s registered, they will give you a title number. Once you have the title number, you can get the title deeds of registered land using this link for £3.!ut/p/b1/04_SjzS0tDQwMTIxMjLXj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfGjzOKNjSxMDA1NjDwsjM3MDTxN3dyNDUNMjQ1MjPWDU_P0c6McFQH3SLFU/

Once you have established who owns it, you would then be in a position to move forward either for compensation or with the police and to push the local authority. Don’t worry about the fact that one of the owners is a councillor.

Can I clarify anything for you?

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your frankness .You have put us on the right track ,
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi FES , just a few follow on questions on same topic .What if we find the land is not registered ?
It was said at the Parish Council meeting by a surveyor that he believes the privy's belonged to 4 houses in Pear st and - so does that give us a foothold of any sort that they destroyed a building that was jointly owned ?In the the old deeds it mentions the privy and ashplaces we had a fourth share .Meantime , shall I ask the council why they haven't issued a clean up notice ?I have sent for the land registry copy as you suggested to find out who owns the land .
thank you

If you find the land is not registered, there is no easy way of finding out who owns it if no one in the local area knows. However if the land is not owned by any known person, whoever took the stone is guilty of “theft by finding” and hence, it becomes a police matter.

Normally, in each of the houses deeds it would mention whether there is just the right to use this or whether it’s part of the title.

If you have the right to use it but not own it, they have now obstructed that right by removing it. You might want to use the old privy belonging to your house as a shed. You could claim compensation from whoever destroyed it but you would need to know who owned the land.

If you have a fourth share mentioned in your old registration title deeds, that may need regularising in your deeds if for some reason that was omitted when your property was registered. That then gives you a much more substantial claim.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi FES , thank you for that .I understood all of that apart from the last bit about regularising in your deeds ?This was on my official copy of registration of title "A conveyance of the land in this title dated 16th October 1925 made between Mary Whitaker ,and Mary Whitaker and others-George Beckwith Childs and Elizabeth Childs - contains the following provision :- .
It is hereby agreed and declared by and between the parties hereto that the walls and fences separating the herediments and premises hereby conveyed from the adjoining herediments and premises and the fall pipes and eves now used jointly by the herediments and premises hereby conveyed and such adjoining herediments and premises are mesne or party wall fall pipes and eves shall be used maintained , and enjoyed accordingly .This is what we read in the deeds of*****in 1964 to do with the privy outhouse " .....conveys and confirms all that dwellinghouse situate and known as no*****Oxenhope, together with the ground plot or site thereof and a coextensive moiety of Pear St , lying to the South and also the estates and interests of of the Vendors of and in the privy ashesplace and passage lying to the West of the said dwellinghouse ,as the purchaser would have had if an undivided moiety of and and in the said privy place and an equal undivided fourth part or share of and in the said ashesplace and passage had been conveyed to it immediately prior to the Property Act 1925 TOGETHER with all such rights easements and privileges as were granted by an indenture of Conveyance dated the 16th of October 1925 between Mary Whitaker .............We can't make sense of that I'm afraid ,and would be very happy if you could convey in laymans terms what is actually saying .Thank you.

Moiety literally means a part of the whole thing, usually one half. If you substitute the word “half or part” for moiety, that works, as does equal parts or equal shares.

When I was referring to regularising the deeds, I was meaning that if you owned a part of the privy, that needs adding into your deeds. All there needs to be a separate deed of the privy part owned by you. If that’s the case, then this is definitely theft of the stone.

So, looking at the wording, it is probably the most convoluted and confusing deed that I have had the pleasure to look at.

It says that in 1964, the owner got the seller’s interest in the privy If the privy had been conveyed to them immediately prior to 1925 which was when the Law of property act came into being.

We would now need to look at the conveyance from 16 October 1925 and the conveyance from 1964. Moving from deed to deed like this is not at all uncommon when trying to work backwards.

I have a bit more information for you.

I asked a colleague to look at this for you and he has come up with the following reply

Moiety can mean half, but it can also mean equal share......and I think here, it is open to interpretation.

The Deeds conveys the dwelling house, which is known as No***** with the ground or site upon which is it built. That much is pretty clear. However, it then goes on to say that the owners of No*****has a coextensive moiety (not necessarily half, but perhaps equal share?) of Pear Street. I take this to mean that the street is unadopted, and each of the owners of Pear St have an equal responsibility for its maintenance, together with such rights as may exist in the privy ashes place and passage lying to the west of the house. that is a share of one fourth of the privy and ashes place and passage - presumably there are 4 houses which "share" the passageway/ashes place and privy.

So, I can't give a straight answer, only one which I surmise..... that is he doesn't own it for himself, but he owns a share of it. Even with the deeds, which would be useful, and all the transfers and conveyances referred to, it may still not be completely apparent.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you to you and your colleague .We have many sets of deeds here , all may be written in Polish as far as us translating them ! The people who demolished the building insisted we did all own a fourth , so I don't think we would meet resistance there.It appears then that since the council will not get involved , the local press did not publish the story this week ( bitter irony here - the councillor who demolished it appears in the local press posing by a heap of rubbish and going on about how dire fly tipping is and in another article where he is posing with a local stonewall saying we must look after our environment!! )
I think these 2 pictures side by side of our mess would have made quite a story !
So it seems we must have the work done ourselves but we can't afford it .Sue them via a solicitor but we can't afford it ,looks like the only option left is to either to go down the route of theft of the stone ?

I actually had 2 colleagues look at this because of the extremely convoluted nature of these old words. This is typical of the kind of legal speak used by lawyers at the time in order to keep the legal profession as a closed shop. The general public, legal speak in the United Kingdom is now largely a thing of the past. The answer I sent you, is the easiest to read of the two or three of us are of the same conclusion.

If you all own one fourth, (I wonder why they never said one quarter or 25%?) Then none of you can knock it down without the other consent and even if you all consented, know what a few can take away the stone which belongs to the 4 of you.

The council will get involved but only with regard to section 215 notice to clean up the area which looks a mess. That’s obvious from the photograph. If the council will not get involved with that, complain to the Local Government Ombudsman. The irony years that the 4 review are responsible for the cleanup!

You would be entitled to reimbursement from the culprit was that made the mess.

I would certainly go along the theft of stone route and go along to the police with the information you have including this answer which confirms that you owned ¼ of this and it’s been taken and you know the culprit.

What actually happens here is that the building is not divided into four pieces and you do not own your individual 1/4 piece, but rather or 4 of you on the whole thing jointly. Hence, each of you own a quarter of the whole thing is supposed to an individual quarter. I hope that makes sense.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you - again ! we are going to our daughters over the weekend and will go over all the information you have provided ,and then choose our best course of action .
Will I still be able to e mail you on here to let you know the way forward we have taken and what the outcome was ?

Yes, you can still contact me. If you want to talk on the phone, because it can be quicker, we can also do that and I will submit a premium services proposal for you which you can take up or leave in abeyance. Best wishes.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi , I have accepted your phone call offer .We can speak on Monday after noon if that's ok ? 01535 640696

I have put that in my diary to call you. Shall we say 4 PM? I will also give you my contact details in the separate contact section.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks , 4 will be fine.Have a good weekend

It’s just a thought, but I’m happy to ring you now or over the weekend if you want to speak sooner rather than later. The choice is up to you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi, sorry been at my daughters so missed your weekend offer to call .I hope to hear from you soon

Hi, I need your contact details please and I can call now

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi , I did give you my details above but it is 01535 640696

We have spoken. Best wishes

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for your help

Glad to help.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Fred , the land is not registered to anyone so you were right .The article is not in the paper again this week .More stuff has been dumped on the site .I wrote to the CEO at Bradford Council and have heard nothing back yet.I am running out of fight now .thanks

No need to fight. Just keep ploughing away.

I would allow two weeks for the reply from the chief executive.

If you do not get a reply, then it’s further grounds for complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.

PS did you report theft of stone to the Police?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No we haven't yet Fred.Lee is worried about the implications for us .
I am tempted to try fly tipping again ,what do you think ?

I can’t see what implications there are if you go to the police.

There was a building there.

It was made of stone.

You had a part share of it albeit the deeds are quite vague.

The stone has gone. It has been stolen because you didn’t consent for it to go.

By all means go down the fly tipping route.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
OK , thanks Fred.

Good luck

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Fred, just to let you know ,we have reported it to the police as theft of stone .Will keep you posted,

We shall see what’s happens. The police will not be intimidated by the councillor.

Incidentally, I no longer get notifications on this thread that you have replied because of the length of the thread so I might not get back to you as quickly as previously.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Fred, yes I know I must have gone past having a question answered !! sorry .I will sign off this thread now then, and let you get onto other clients .
Lastly I just got an e mail back from the police who say it is more of a civil matter .
Thanks for your help and time and patience.

You need to press the police and if necessary speak to a senior officer make a written complaint to the chief constable.

It is a common tactic for police if there is anything the least bit out of the ordinary they will just say it’s a civil matter.

It is indeed a civil matter also but the fact remains that these stones have been stolen. If necessary, make a complaint to the IPCC