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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Scots Law
Satisfied Customers: 12187
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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We've had the use of a piece of land as a car park

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We've had the use of a piece of land as a car park thirty years. It belongs, in the main, to the neighbouring Free Presbyterian Church (our property having previously been the manse when constructed in 1876) although we own approximately 10% which by title deed is 'landlocked'. The church's Deacons Court gave us written consent in 1984 to build a driveway and subsequently, in 1992, written consent to extend this to a car park. The cost of all works; mono block paving, gates and the lowering of the kerb were all our undertaking. In 1992 we were advised that the car parking could remain in place indefinitely and if the church ever considered selling the land, our interest would be kept in view.
From a recent informal approach, it is clear that there is no intention to sell and that the arrangement is likely to be changed, should we considering selling our property which is both our home and 'guest house' business.
As we have cared land since our purchase of our house in 1978 and have subsequently constructed a car park business use, we are of a mind that we will have some rights under Scottish law to gain permanent access and or title. Can you advise?
Thank you question.
You have no right to a permanent title to the property as you don't have a title deed. So however long you occupy this area and however much you've looked after and cared and paid money towards it you will never own it.
The written consents don't take you any further nor do the representations about keeping your interests in view, unless you have a formal written document to that effect in the form of a contract or option agreement .
However, you may have certain servitude rights established by the passage of time. There will certainly be a servitude right of access over the ground so the landlock issue is not an issue. That is called a prescriptive servitude and arises simply through usage over the period.
There is also fairly recent law about parking being a servitude or heritable right. You can find online the case of Moncrieff v Jamieson where the court found that there was no reason in principal why parking could not be established as a servitude. Before that, the law of property and the courts didn't recognise such a right.
Servitude rights, once granted or established through usage are heritable rights and pass with the property as opposed to the person so if the ransom strip was a problem, the law of prescription would solve that problem.
However, as with anything which isn't written down in black and white, any purchaser would want evidence of usage prior to committing to a purchase.
Happy to discuss further.
I hope this helps. Please leave a positive response so that I am credited time.
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