An Open Access Peon

19 March 2010

Check your house boundaries

I'm currently trying to purchase a house. We have an agreed price, the vendor has vacated the property but we're got stuck on legal issues going on 4 months.

The issue is the previous owner to the current one expanded the garden into unused land, expanding the garden nearly twofold in size. She then sold the property on with land which wasn't on the title deed, leaving the current vendor trying to sell something she doesn't have title to. A conservatory extension has also been added without a permission required by a deed convenant. These issues only came to light after we agreed an offer and after I had spent money on a survey and the solicitor's initial searches.

The Home Information Pack (HIP) does include a copy of the land registry entry. It was a simple process to marry-up the plot (as indicated on the land registry) with a satellite image of the plot. Having done this it is obvious that the plot does not correspond to the land registry, ringing alarm bells. With the benefit of hind-sight I could've avoided the financial exposure of surveys and solicitor costs before having the vendor sort these problems out.

In a more general sense, it's unclear who if anyone checks that the boundaries for a property are the same as those shown on the land registry. My full structural survey didn't include a boundary survey and the solicitor doesn't visit the site (and are seemingly technology illiterate).

As it seems with all house-buying processes the best person to actually check these things is you. When viewing a property's surrounding land you should definitely ask the estate agent whether the sale includes the entire plot and whether they have checked that against the land registry (which they should get as part of the HIP).

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