Buying a property with land is an attractive proposition for many people. Rural properties or those with large plots have seen an increase in demand over the past couple of years thanks to the pandemic-led migration away from cities and urban areas.
It may also be that you want to buy a standalone piece of land – either as a potential plot to build a home on, as a development opportunity or because it adjoins your property.
The transfer of a land ownership title can be full of legal complexities. Here, Claire Egerton looks at some of the main considerations involved when buying a property with land.
Be wary of restrictive covenants or other legal restrictions
It isn’t uncommon for land, particularly in more rural areas, to come with unusual conditions around its use. Sometimes, these date back to old laws or may have been put in place by previous owners to restrict access or the way the land can be used. For example, there may be a covenant that prohibits building on the land. Whilst you may not have any plans to develop the land now, you never know what may happen in the future. Being aware of such restrictions is important so you know what you are and are not able to do with the land should your plans change.
Double-check the plot
Boundaries are often not as straightforward as you may think and parts of the plot that you think you are buying may actually no longer form part of the land’s boundaries. For example, there may have been adverse possession of the land or a previous agreement between landowners to change the boundary lines. In any event, it is worth seeking clarification as to what is included and is not included in the title deeds.
You will also want to find out who is responsible for walls and fences that might surround the land as this will have implications on future maintenance costs.
Have the land surveyed
Whilst you may have thought about having the property you are buying surveyed, you may not have considered extending the survey to the land that comes with it. However, there are a number of potential hidden snags with land purchases, including access, rights of way and overhead power lines. The physical state and condition of the land could also be of potential concern – for example, if the land has been contaminated in any way. Failing to identify issues with the land prior to purchase would leave you liable for any associated costs in the future.
The searches undertaken as part of the conveyancing process should highlight any other potential issues with the land, such as flood risks (see below).
Pay attention to searches
When buying a property with land, you will want to pay particular attention to the results that come back from the searches. In particular, these may include Planning, Building Regulations, Road Schemes and Charges, Drainage and Sewerage pipes and Water Supply pipes, Notices and Orders of Local Authority and Public Rights of Way. A Conveyancing Solicitor that has experience in rural property transactions and attention to detail should be able to advise on the appropriate searches, highlighting any potential issues to protect your rights and investment.
O’Donnell Solicitors have experience in assisting buyers that are purchasing property with land. Our local knowledge ideally places us to assist with rural property purchases which may hold other potential issues such as unusual titles, flying freeholds, common yards and passageways, septic tanks, and leaseholds.
The conveyancing team at O’Donnell Solicitors, including director Claire Egerton, Julian and Nicola, live locally and have the benefit of local knowledge to pass on to clients.
For any further advice or to enquire about our conveyancing services, please contact us on 01457 761320 or email email@example.com.