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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Scots Law
Satisfied Customers: 12199
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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Good morning There is an empty property opposite my house,

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Good morning
There is an empty property opposite my house, The property has been empty since it was built. I have been using this property to store general items and I have now been paying the local service charge and also council rates for the last 5 years on the property. On the advice of a lawyer (family friend of my then boyfriend) we advertised in the local and last known address of the owner and only one person came forward who knew the owner but didn't know where he lived, but just said he is a no good person and always up to something. I know that the guy is old as we have had 2 visits to the property by people looking after his interests The last one was 2 years ago and the surveyor said the old guy wanted to put his affairs in order. I asked if they would consider an offer on the property as I have been maintaining it and paying the bills. The property did need urgent repairs as the issues were affecting the buildings next to it (terraced street). I do think my lawyer gave me bad advice as he said if I maintained the house for 10 years I can try and register it with the land dept and I believe this law changed a long time ago. I would appreciate any comment on how to move forward with this please. Thanks Lorraine
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
any update please
The advice your lawyer gave you was incomplete. You would have to occupy the property without interruption over a 10 year period but as well as that you would have to register a title deed in your favour, called an a non domino Disposition. That would only work if the actual owner could not be traced so you have no chance of going down this route. In any event the whole concept of such Dispositions has been made much more difficult since the 2012 Land Registration Act came into force in December 2014. If you really want this property you will have to trace the owner via the Land Register and make an offer to purchase. I hope that helps. Please leave a positive rating so that I am credited for my time.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
We have gone down the legal process of trying to find the owner and no-one has come forward to say where he actually is. I have had my belongings in the property for over 5 years now. Can I try and register it with the land registration if I can prove I have gone down the correct legal route ? If they refuse though, is it correct that I have to be re-embursed for the money I have spent ? I think the owner might have even died even now as I believe he was in his 80's. I would appreciate some advice on how to proceed in my favour ?
What process have you gone through to trace the owner? Even if that has been negative you can only register ownerless land in your name. In Scotland there is no law that says you can register someone else's land in your name. There is no procedure for you to be reimbursed for monies you have spent. So really there is nothing terribly favourable I can tell you, I'm afraid.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The Scottish laywer advised us to advertise in he last known address's both here and last known address in UK for a week, which we did. He then advised that if we paid the bills on the property and repairs, then we would be entitled to try and register it in our name. If the owner wants me out then, what can he do. Do I have any rights at all ? It seems the lawyer has given me bad information, which obviously cost me a lot of money. I seem to have recourse on the lawyer then !
In summary the rules about a non domino deeds are that you have to have occupied the property that you (or they) don't own for at least a year before you register the a non domino disposition in your favour. Second, you have to notify the owner of the land and give them time to object, before you register your title. Of course, once notified, the true owner is likely to assert his right. If this doesn't happen you have to be granted a deed and then continue to possess the property for 10 years without objection. If the owner comes back within that 10 year period then he can enter into ownership as your title is not purified.
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