What good is a garage we can’t get to?

Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Homes and Property - - Home & Property | Ask The Expert - Fiona McNulty

QWE ARE try­ing to buy a semi-de­tached prop­erty. Each of the two houses has a garage at the back, but the sin­gle drive­way at the front is used to reach them. The es­tate agent has ad­mit­ted there is a prob­lem, in that the drive­way be­longs to the neigh­bour’s house and there is no for­mal “ease­ment” show­ing on the ti­tle deeds. Ap­par­ently, this means we would have no right to use the front drive to ac­cess the garage. What is an ease­ment? And what can be done to sort out this mess?

AAN EASE­MENT is where a prop­erty owner, for the ben­e­fit of their land, has a right to make use of some­one else’s prop­erty. An ex­am­ple of an ease­ment is a right of way.

To use the drive­way to ac­cess the garage at the rear, there should be an ease­ment over the drive­way in favour of the prop­erty you pro­pose buy­ing. This should ap­pear on the ti­tle to both prop­er­ties.

How­ever, it is pos­si­ble that your seller and their neigh­bour en­tered into a deed of ease­ment to grant a right of way over the drive­way but it has not yet been reg­is­tered at the Land Registry.

Al­ter­na­tively, your seller may have been us­ing the drive­way without au­thor­ity. If this is so and that use has con­tin­ued for a long pe­riod of time without the neigh­bour ob­ject­ing or com­plain­ing, then a right of way may have been ac­quired. Your so­lic­i­tor needs to make de­tailed en­quiries of the seller’s so­lic­i­tor to es­tab­lish if there re­ally is a prob­lem. The sit­u­a­tion should be re­solved be­fore you ex­change con­tracts be­cause you do not want buy a prop­erty sub­ject to a neigh­bour dis­pute. We re­gret that ques­tions can­not be an­swered in­di­vid­u­ally, but we will try to fea­ture them here. Fiona McNulty is a so­lic­i­tor spe­cial­is­ing in res­i­den­tial prop­erty. WE OWN a very di­lap­i­dated prop­erty which we would like to sell at auc­tion. But apart from be­ing big fans of Un­der the Ham­mer on the telly, we haven’t got a clue what to do. Can you at least tell us what is the first step?

USE prop­erty auc­tion­eers ex­pe­ri­enced in selling sim­i­lar prop­er­ties. En­sure there is enough time for your prop­erty to be mar­keted prop­erly and for the nec­es­sary le­gal pa­per­work to be pre­pared be­fore the auc­tion. The auc­tion­eers should ad­vise you re­gard­ing the value of your prop­erty, the guide price and the re­serve price they pro­pose.

Ap­point a so­lic­i­tor to act for you and to work with the auc­tion­eer to pro­duce an auc­tion con­tract which in­cludes par­tic­u­lars of sale de­scrib­ing the prop­erty, con­di­tions re­lat­ing to the terms of the sale, and a me­moran­dum which will be signed by the buyer, or on their be­half, at the auc­tion.

There is of­ten in­suf­fi­cient time for prospec­tive buy­ers to in­ves­ti­gate the ti­tle to prop­erty be­ing auc­tioned, so your so­lic­i­tor should pre­pare a le­gal/auc­tion pack to ac­com­pany the auc­tion con­tract con­tain­ing ti­tle doc­u­ments such as an of­fi­cial copy of the reg­is­ter of ti­tle and a ti­tle plan, replies to gen­eral en­quiries, a lo­cal au­thor­ity search, a drainage and water en­quiry, an en­vi­ron­men­tal search plus any other searches rel­e­vant to your prop­erty — for ex­am­ple, a flood risk re­port

The auc­tion­eer will pro­vide in­ter­ested buy­ers with copies of the con­tract and auc­tion pack prior to the auc­tion and your so­lic­i­tor should at­tend the sale to an­swer any queries from prospec­tive buy­ers.

WHAT’S YOUR PROB­LEM? IF YOU have a ques­tion for Fiona McNulty, please email legal­so­lu­tions@ stan­dard.co.uk or write to Le­gal So­lu­tions, Homes & Prop­erty, Lon­don Evening Stan­dard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE.

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