There are many reasons why you may consider buying land from a neighbour. You may want to use the land to extend your house or garden, build a new house or develop several properties. Whilst you may be on good terms with your neighbour, buying garden or other land from them involves the same practical and legal considerations as purchasing any other property. And that’s why you need good advice you can rely on from specialist property solicitors.
For no strings attached FREE initial phone advice about any aspect of buying land from your neighbour, call our specialist property team now on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544.
What matters do I need to consider when buying land from my neighbour?
Some of the issues you need to consider include the following:
How much will it cost to buy the land?
Whilst buying a piece of garden land from neighbours is similar to purchasing any other property, a key issue from the outset is that the land is unlikely to be advertised for sale. This means that you might not know how much the land is worth or the price your neighbour will accept. If you are particularly friendly with your neighbour, you may be able to reach an agreement on the sale price between yourselves. Alternatively, you could instruct a local estate agent or valuer to carry out a valuation of the land. This will provide a ballpark figure to work with but may not represent the sum your neighbour will accept. If, for example, the land will enable you to build an extension that significantly increases the value of your house, a savvy neighbour may factor this into any negotiations and demand a higher price.
Is there a mortgage over the land?
If there is a mortgage over the land you wish to buy from your neighbour, the lender will need to consent to the sale and agree to remove their interest in the land. If they don’t, the land could be repossessed by the lender if your neighbour defaults on their mortgage repayments.
When considering whether to relinquish their interest in the land, a lender will take into account factors such as how much the land is worth and the amount outstanding on your neighbour’s mortgage.
Buying land from my neighbour – can I use the land as desired?
If you are buying the land to build on, you need to check whether planning permission will be required and, if so, how likely it is to be granted. Your neighbour may already have planning permission in place; this will simplify the process but often results in them demanding a higher price for the land.
You will also need to consider whether the land has access rights, sewerage and drainage, and utilities such as water and gas.
Where will the new boundary be and who will maintain it?
Once a sale has been agreed, you and your neighbour will need to decide where the new boundary will lie and how it will be identified; by a fence, hedge or the like. You will also need to agree who will be responsible for the maintenance of the new boundary. It is crucial that there is clarity on this point to avoid property disputes later. The decision will need to be reflected in new plans which are drawn up (usually by a surveyor) and lodged with the Land Registry.
Do I need to use a solicitor when buying land from my neighbour?
Strictly, no; there is no obligation for you to take legal advice when buying any property, including a piece of a neighbour’s garden land. Sometimes, if the piece of land is particularly small or trivial, your neighbour may agree to the boundary simply being moved. You may be able to do this by way of an informal boundary agreement.
In the majority of cases, however, the process of buying a piece of garden land from a neighbour is no different from purchasing other types of property. It is simply conveyancing – the legal transfer of property from one owner to another. Simply put, it ensures that when you buy a property, you are getting exactly what you’ve paid for. Many people use a solicitor to help them buy garden land from a neighbour in the same way they would when buying a house, for example. That ensures you are getting exactly what you’ve paid for.
Some of the tasks your conveyancing solicitor will undertake on your behalf when you are buying a piece of a neighbour’s garden land include –
· Carrying out Land Registry searches to confirm that your neighbour owns the land. If the land is unregistered, a solicitor will ensure that any ownership documentation your neighbour produces is sufficient to prove their ownership;
· Ascertaining whether the land is freehold or leasehold. If the land is leasehold, a solicitor will advise on the implications this has on your purchase and the best way to proceed;
· Checking whether there are any current restrictions on the use of the land which may affect your intended use;
· Negotiating the contract of sale with your neighbour or their representatives. Your neighbour may wish to impose restrictions on your future use of the land; they may seek to ensure you can only use it as a garden, for example. A solicitor will make sure any such restrictions are acceptable to you and seek to remove any which are not;
· Liaising with third-party professionals such as surveyors;
· Preparing and lodging all relevant documentation with the Land Registry.
Click here to read more about the conveyancing process and timeline