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