How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Remus2004 Your Own Question
Remus2004, Barrister
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 71146
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
Type Your Property Law Question Here...
Remus2004 is online now

When I chose to buy my new build property from the Council

This answer was rated:

When I chose to buy my new build property from the Council in 1986 the back boundary fence was drawn lined up with all my neighbours. However this fence and that of my next door neighbour were recessed in by a 1.5 metres before the purchase was completed because the council decided they would landscape behind it to vary the view along the cycle path that runs behind. This never happened so in due course I planted several shrubs there myself ( along the 2.5 m breadth) and have maintained this strip ever since. I asked the council if I could buy this extra strip which was possible but the price was very high in relation to the area involved so I didn't proceed. They told me the price was the minimum the Council charged for any change in legal paperwork but that it didn't reflect the smallness of the plot. My close boarded back fence needs replacing now and I have been told that it would be possible to enclose this strip into my garden after all. Is this the case?
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Do you mean that this land still belongs to the council and you have not bought it but that you could occupy for 10 years under the doctrine of adverse possession and then get it registered as yours without buying it?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, I believe that was the term used although I was quoted a twelve year period. Does this refer to the period over which I have been cultivating and maintaining it ( i.e. the last 20 years plus) while it had been a sort of addition to the verge which they do mow from time to time ( it lies back from this and has not been mown) or the period which follows formal enclosure?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Having occupied it for nearly 30 years could I now formally enclose it and also register it. If so, who do I have to register it with ? The Council or the Land registry or both?

If the landlord that you are occupying is registered at the land registry, you have to occupy it without objection or consent and not in secret for 10 years. That period becomes 12 years if the land is not registered.
However I'm sorry to have to tell you there is bad news and that is that if this land is owned by the council, the council are deemed to be an emanation of the Crown and it is illegal to occupy Crown land. Therefore, even if you occupy the 10 years or 12 years or a hundred years, you can never acquire title because it is not possible to acquire title through an illegal act.
So, whilst you could occupy it and fence it off, if the council decide that they want it back, you will have to hand it back.
I'm sorry if the answer is unfavourable for you but that is the situation.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Oh dear, that is bad news Jo, and I'll have to give it more thought. Thank you for your answer. Will be happy to rate your answer but not clear whether if I do this query ends as rating box implies this so off to ruminate about the problem and consult with friends and back to tie things up with rating etc on this soon.

The situation would of course be completely different if it were not council land.
The thread remains open after you rate my answer if you want to follow anything up.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Jo, not keen to do something illegal and a pity previous advice had not realised the exception of Crown land etc but very glad I consulted you and will rate your advice as excellent ...the box leading to this does however say 'Rate to Finish' so makes it look final. How long will the thread remain open?

Am going to talk the situation over with my neighbour. I don't feel the council will care one way or another and I could look into buying it again but he needs to be happy about it too. Maybe they'd do us a boundary change job lot?

Many thanks


No problem and all the best.
Remember that I am always available to help with your questions. Even if I am in Court I will usually pick up a question within 12 hours. For future information, please start your question with ‘For Jo C’.
Remus2004 and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks Jo ,

Have now actually checked the map registered with my deeds and it shows BOTH situations which is odd in itself. i.e. The fence line running along all four properties as being in a straight line and the detailed drawing which came later which shows a recessing of two of the back boundaries and proposed landscaping - two trees and shrubbery, which never happened.

Not able to discuss it with my neighbour yet but maybe grounds for a small boundary shift? If I put the new fence back where it was originally shown it's maybe worth taking a chance and then moving it if the later plan means legally I have to. Weird that both positions are shown on the registered land deeds though and no-one queried this discrepancy ...not even me!