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Stuart J
Stuart J, Property Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 23353
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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I have a question about a private road. Costain plc have

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I have a question about a private road. Costain plc have 'owned' an estate of private roads since the 1930s and have managed these through local road committees made up of residents. They now want to offload this asset to a new company to be run not for profit by the local residents at no cost. However Costain cannot find the title deed for several of the roads and therefore have not been able to register them with the Land Registry. They say they will instead pass 'equitable title'. Does this mean the new company will not own these unregistered roads and if so who will? Can the residents of these unregistered roads claim title through 'adverse possession?
JA: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?
Customer: No. The residents committees have set up a steering group and appointed a lawyer to give advice on the new company but only for the roads for which Costain have been able to register with the Land Registry. Residents of the other private roads do not know where they stand as far as 'equitable title'
JA: Where is the property located?
Customer: Kingswood, Surrey
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I am a resident of one of the roads for which Costain has been unable to prove title

The answer to this is relatively simple. If the local residents don’t want to run it, then don’t. If the local residents want to impose conditions then do so.

My suggestion would be that the local residents tell the owner of the land but if they want to offload the land, they would be willing to take over the management of the land (assuming that they want to do so) and to buy for a peppercorn provided the current owner agrees to do a first registration.

Equitable title means that on paper you would not own it. In my opinion, totally unsatisfactory. Get them to register it. Then they transferred it to you in the normal way.

The reason they are looking doing this we is that they don’t want to have to do the work which is required to do a first registration on the property where the deeds of being lost. They are being lazy. If they don’t register it, tell them you are not interested. That would be my advice.

If I have answered your question for you, at the top of the page, you should see a rating facility. Can you please rate my reply 3 stars or more because that really helps me? Please note you are not rating whether it’s favourable, because sometimes you may not get the answer you want, but basically my knowledge and way of dealing.

The thread does not close and I am happy to answer any questions you may have arising from this.

Kind regards

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Many thanks, ***** ***** Is as I understand it the advice is to insist that Costain register title before either the new company or alternatively the residents of the entitlement only road take over the responsibility for the road. If either accept the transfer with just entitlement and not title where does that leave us long term? Would it be easier to talk on the phone?

Costain can register whenever they like. They may not want to bother is this management company is going to buy it so they may insist that the contract for the transfer of the property must be conditional upon the registration.

No registration = no transfer of the land

no transfer of the land = no registration.

Each is conditional on the other. No big deal and easy to put in the contract.

If you would like to talk on the telephone, I am happy to do so. Just let me know.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Thank you. I am very clear on that point. Next, if Costain refuse and the company is taken over with just the roads for which there is title, where does that leave the residents of the roads that are not transferred? I presume they remain the responsibility of Costain. In this circumstance could the residents of the roads for which there is no registered title apply for adverse possession of the verges of these roads in the circumstances that they have looked after and tended to these verges for more than 12 years?

Costain can sell this to anybody they like who wants to buy it if anybody wants to take it on although it may be more of a liability than a benefit. By all of you taking it on, it gives you an element of control.

If they tell you that they are not willing to register it before you buy it, they either hang onto it or sell it to someone else.

If your little group want control, you can always do first registration after you purchased the property. Indeed, you would have to do so because it is compulsory.

In my opinion the possession is a nonstarter for a variety of reasons. Firstly you haven’t had exclusive use of this to the exclusion of others for the requisite period and secondly, you used all this area with consent so adverse possession doesn’t apply because your use of it is not adverse. 10 out of 10 for lateral thinking but it fails I am afraid.

I am glad to help. Please don’t forget to use the rating service because it means that can continue to provide affordable and timely legal advice to people with similar problems.

Although it says "rate to finish" it doesn't close the thread and we can still exchange emails.

You may need to login again to use the rating service.

Kind regards

Stuart J and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Stuart. Sorry to appear stupid but are you saying that the new company could register for title of the roads after the residents take over this company or would Costain still have to do this? Maybe a very brief chat on the phone would be helpful? Robin

Let me have your telephone number please and I can call now or in the morning. Thank you

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Please call***********tomorrow after 11 if possible