Right of way over unowned land

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    Right of way over unowned land

    Hello everyone,

    I’ve been trying to get clarification over land next to my property but am at a lost end.

    My house is accessed by a muddy track off a residential street. We have a neighbour each side of our property. These houses have driveways going onto a main road which is at the end of our garden. Our house is effectively back to front compared to our neighbours. These neighbours both have rear access to their properties along this track, as well as their proper driveways to the main road.

    Our only access is along this muddy track.

    I have purchased the land title and we do not own this track. I have contacted the council and they do not own it nor do they know who owns it.

    I checked the forms from our solicitor when we purchased the house and it just says the other nehigbours have right of way on this track.

    My question is; who owns this piece of land? Is it collectively owned between ourselves and our two neighbours? Who is responsible for mainting it?

    Many thanks for your help. I’m not sure where else to look!!

    Originally posted by Joel232 View Post
    I checked the forms from our solicitor when we purchased the house and it just says the other nehigbours have right of way on this track.
    Have you asked your solicitor where he got this information from?
    Have you checked with you neighbours to see what their leases say about this right of way?

    In either case there may be something to indicate just who 'owns' the track.


      "I have purchased the land title and we do not own this track"

      Which title please?


        Whoever owns it it is unlikely they have a duty to maintain it. Sometimes it states in the deeds you have pay to a proportion of maintenance costs but as it isn't in your deeds it probably won't be in your neighbour's either. As the neighbours have driveways and don't need to use the lane it seems unlikely they will contribute if not required to. On the plus side if there is no obvious owner there's also no-one to object to you improving it either. Alternatively could you make your own driveway to the road?


          In order to find out if this land has a registered owner, or if it remains unregistered, you can use the Land Registry web-site and download a form SIM which is for a Search of the Index Map.

          You need to complete the form and identify the land you want to search for by using your own title plan with the track highlighted to identify the land your application is for. Then send this form to Land Registry Citizens Centre with a cheque for the fee.
          You can find all this out on the Land Registry web-site.

          If there is a registered owner you will be informed of the title number so that you can buy at a cost of £3 a copy of the register of title using the Land Registry web-site. Then you will know who owns this track. If it is shown to be unregistered than you will not be able to find out who owns it.

          What should have happened when you decided to buy this house, is that your solicitor should have established that there was a legal right of way over this track that allowed access to the house.

          Was there any evidence in the deeds that you were provided with that there was a legal right of way?

          The thing about a right of way is that no one can be compelled to maintain its surface.

          The owner of the land that a right of way runs over can maintain it if he wants to, but at his own cost.
          The person who has a right of way over this land can maintain it if he wants to, but at his own cost.

          That is how the Common law deals with such matters, but it seems so strange that you seem not to know if you have a right of way over this track.

          Are you sure about that?
          What did your solicitor tell you when you instructed him to complete the purchase for you?


            Thank you for your initial replies.

            I wasn’t very clear in my original post. From the wording of my conveyancing documentation it would appear we all have a shared access. I would assume we are therefore all responsible for mainting the track but we do not ‘have’ to maintain the track.

            Is it possible to buy land that isn’t owned? I’d happily do this and allow the neighbours to keep their right of way of course. This would provide us with clarity and make things a bit easier in my opinion.

            Again, thank you for your help.


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