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Buying Land? Watch Out for Others’ Rights of Way!

Buying and selling land can be a complex business, particularly when it comes to rights of way, and conveyancing is always best left to the professionals. In one case, a couple paid £17,000 for a small triangle of grass and only later discovered that their neighbours had an unrestricted right to cross it.

The neighbours’ right of way in respect of the plot appeared on the face of title deeds kept at the Land Registry but the couple were not alerted to it before the deal went through. When they sought to register their title to the plot, their neighbours insisted that the existence of their right of way should be noted on the register.

The First-tier Tribunal observed that the couple might well not have bought the plot had they been aware of the true position. However, their neighbours’ right of way was there to be seen on the register and it had not been abandoned. Arguments that the neighbours had failed to take reasonable steps to alert the couple to their right of way prior to the purchase were also rejected. The decision meant that the burden of the right of way would be recorded against the couple’s title to the plot so that any future purchaser would be aware of its existence.