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Ask James Mather Your Own Question
James Mather
James Mather,
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 22629
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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The current owners of the house we are purchasing have lived

Customer Question

The current owners of the house we are purchasing have lived there for 36years and purchased the freehold in 1995. They have discovered that the Land Registry Title garden plan is smaller and a different shape than the actual garden boundary fences which they state have been there the entire time they have lived there. The owner has moved into a retirement home and the property is empty. The house is on a development built in 1970 when all the properties were leasehold. When the freehold was transferred in 1995 no one noticed that the Land Registry plan was different from the actual garden boundaries. However now the freeholder of the whole development, has made a claim to the part of the garden which is not on the Land Registry title plan and is threatening to erect a 2 metre high fence on the new boundary. The property is by the river Thames and this new boundary fence would reduce the river view by 30%. The freeholder has staked out the new boundary on the garden and is asking a purchase price of 10% of the property value for this disputed land. Would the current owners be able to get Possessory title to the disputed piece of land in these circumstances and prevent the freeholder from seizing the disputed land? Could the land Registry Title plan be wrong? It is based on the original architects drawing of the housing development but it would appear that it was actually laid out differently by the builders of the development.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.
How long has the owner had use of this piece of land?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

36 years

Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.

So, in a metaphorical nutshell the house owner came home one day to
discover to find that somebody else has decided to fence off part of his garden
which he has used exclusively for 36 years and on investigation he discovers
that piece of land is not on his title deeds? The person who fenced it off and
owns it is now offering to sell it ? Is that the situation?

How many other people are in the same situation?

Can the land be accessed from anywhere else?

What use is that piece of land to anybody else?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

You are correct that is the situation.

Part of the land was according to the original architects plan (& the land registry title plan) intended to be part of the next door properties garden but that person lived there from 1970 to 2009 and the garden fenced boundary was as the actual one today not as the land registry title plan or the architect's plan. The next door neighbour bought the freehold in 2007 and the land Registry Title plan edged in red shows the actual fenced boundary. The triangle of disputed land was shown as a dotted line and was not claimed. The new owner who purchased the property in 2009 has only just been made aware of the disputed boundary and has been told that because the previous owner did not exorcise their right to claim the triangle of land it has now reversed to the ownership of the freeholder of the land.

An added fact is that the freeholder has been present and signed the documents at both properties transfer from leasehold to freehold and has not highlighted the boundary issue either in 1995 or in 2007. Could he have had a hidden agenda to take advantage of elderly owners?

Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.

In which case, if the owner of the property has treated the land as his own
for more than 10 years and is occupied it without consent or objection, he is
entitled to have it registered as his own under the doctrine of adverse

It is worth checking house insurers to see whether there is legal expenses
cover to pay for the legal costs.

Here is everything you need to know about adverse possession from the land

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