Ex Council Garage Land

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    Ex Council Garage Land

    Ex Council Garage Land

    Two years ago during lockdown I walked my local area and noticed a piece of land that looked like it had been abandoned. The land was open for anyone to walk into and as I got to the end of the driveway there were two run down sheds/Garages from the 60’s, Asbestos roof and sides and in a collapsed state.
    The land itself was overgrown and littered with rubbish that had been deposited over the years, it was clearly not maintained at all. Talking to both neighbours either side I was told it was old council garages that were rented out in the 60s 70s 80s but became too dangerous and dilapidated in the 90s so the council stopped renting and just left the land to rot.
    In 2003 they gave the land to a housing association along with all the housing stock at that time. I know this because I have spoken with the council planning department and have the reference numbers from them, and the guy I spoke to knew the land in question.
    I wrote to the housing association with a detailed plan of what I wanted to do with it and sent pictures etc. Then after about 2 months a phone call out of the blue from the developments office at the housing association said that they never registered the land as theirs and they had no intentions of registering it and had no interest what so ever in the land. I asked “where does that leave me then” he replied I cant advise you but our solicitors say the land is unregistered take from that what you will.
    After several days of pondering about it I decided to spend £500 and have a gate installed and got busy clearing it all up, I paid for the asbestos garages to be removed and the land is almost clear of rubbish.
    It is a very strange situation abandoned land in the middle of a council estate was overgrown for around 30 years and now I tend it and keep the fences maintained, my telephone number is on the gate and I have been on it over a year now.
    To my question of which I would welcome any feedback.
    Is this land likely to be mine in 10 years’ time?

    #2
    Depends , apart from everything else, on what the laws are in 10 years time.
    I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

    Comment


      #3
      Did you get anything in writing from the HA?

      Not least in case they change their minds now it's been tidied up at no cost to them.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by nukecad View Post
        Did you get anything in writing from the HA?

        Not least in case they change their minds now it's been tidied up at no cost to them.
        sadly no but because they did not register it in 2003, which i believe is a legal requirement, then they don't have any claim on it. maybee ...

        Comment


          #5
          Interesting. Just because something isnt registered at Land Reg doesn't mean that noone owns it. Hopefully someone of legal background here can advise on the best course of action to cover yourself.

          Comment


            #6
            Adverse possession of unregistered land is covered in this government guide:
            https://www.gov.uk/government/public...3-october-2003

            Comment


              #7
              When a parcel of land is transferred, but the Transferee does not register the transfer within 2 months, as required by Section 4 of the Land Registration Act 2002, then Section 7 applies.

              4 When title must be registered

              (1)The requirement of registration applies on the occurrence of any of the following events—

              (a)the transfer of a qualifying estate—

              (i)for valuable or other consideration, by way of gift or in pursuance of an order of any court,
              7 Effect of non-compliance with section 6


              (1)If the requirement of registration is not complied with, the transfer, grant or creation becomes void as regards the transfer, grant or creation of a legal estate.

              (2)On the application of subsection (1)—

              (a)in a case falling within section 4(1)(a) or (b), the title to the legal estate reverts to the transferor who holds it on a bare trust for the transferee,
              That means that the Council hold the land as trustee for the Housing Association while the land remains unregistered.

              You will start a period of adverse possession if you take exclusive possession of the land and stop anyone else from accessing the land.

              If you can do that for 12 years then you will be able to apply to be first registered as proprietor with Land Registry.

              Do not contact the council in any way.

              The only way the council can seek to repossess this land is if a Possession Order is sought from the court, although when the transfer of unregistered land takes place, all of the original paper deeds are passed on to the Transferee, who provides these old paper document to Land Registry when an application is made to register the land parcels that were included in the transfer.

              In the case of the Large Scale Voluntary Transfers from Local Councils to Housing Associations there would have been a huge pile of documents, but once the registration process had been completed all of the original deeds may not have been retained once separate registered titles were created.

              You will need to rely on the fact that it is highly probable that no one at the council realises what has happened if the Housing Association chose not to register this parcel of land.

              Take possession and treat the land as though it were your own.

              You would then have a better title in possession than anyone else, other the the council, who are unlikely to know anything about the matter.

              Comment


                #8
                Hi Pilman thank you so much for the info much appreciated.

                Comment


                  #9
                  I have taken pictures every week and at stages of cleaning it up, will that be enough when i want to apply to keep it in 12 years time. Can i build on it for instance.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    The more that you treat this land as though you are the owner, the more evidence there will be of an intention to possess, so building something on this land will certainly show your intent.

                    You have already informed the Housing Association that you have an interest in this land, so you have to be aware that this organisation may take more interest if something is built that will make the land more valuable and worth thinking about asserting its right to reclaim ownership by seeking a Possession Order from the court if the original paper deeds were retained.

                    Otherwise there is no physical evidence of the transfer from the council.

                    As long as you take into account that possibility, spending money on developing the land will be your decision, but it will also need you to secure the land from all others by making it clear it is your private property and you are using the land for your own individual purposes.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      There is now an update to this situation. I spend around 3 days a week visiting the land and making sure everting is ok. I have built a 10x7 shed on the land and now it’s all clear, I have even purchased a cheap ride on mower to store there.
                      Two days ago a message was stuck to the gate after over a year of being on it, and it was from the local housing association asking me to ring them. I rang and it was a team called the asset maximisation team, and he was asking all kinds of questions. I told him some stuff but ultimately he said that they were going to get the land if they could. I just need to add that they were not actually gunning for me but a snotty nosed woman had decided to complain to the local councillor that I had a bonfire one afternoon the week before and the question had been asked why were squatters on the supposedly housing associations land.
                      Anyway to my question. The housing association had 2 months to register the land back in 2003 and didn’t, so if by some miracle they find the deed can they then register it while I have occupation ? comments as always welcomed.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        The wording used in Section 6 (5) of the Land Registration Act 2002 could apply if the Housing Association now apply to be registered as legal owner by providing the original transfer deed that specifically identified this particular plot of land in the transfer, which would have been responsible for transferring all the tenanted houses owned by the council in 2003.

                        Whether that particular parcel of land was accurately identified may be relevant.

                        Section 5 seems indicate that the Registrar can override section 4, which refers to the 2 month period for compulsory registration of a transfer with an alternative period mentioned.
                        6 Duty to apply for registration of title

                        (4) The period for registration is 2 months beginning with the date on which the relevant event occurs,
                        or such longer period as the registrar may provide under subsection (5).

                        (5) If on the application of any interested person the registrar is satisfied that there is good reason for doing so, he may by order provide that the period for registration ends on such later date as he may specify in the order.
                        The other point to note is that currently the legal owner of the unregistered land is the Council acting as trustee for the Housing Association since 2003.

                        It is now 19 years since the transfer document was signed so that it can be proven that the Legal Owner has not been in possession of the land for that entire period, nor has the Housing Association been in actual possession.

                        Your earlier comment about what was said during a phone call may be relevant.
                        I wrote to the housing association with a detailed plan of what I wanted to do with it and sent pictures etc. Then after about 2 months a phone call out of the blue from the developments office at the housing association said that they never registered the land as theirs and they had no intentions of registering it and had no interest what so ever in the land. I asked “where does that leave me then” he replied I cant advise you but our solicitors say the land is unregistered take from that what you will.
                        It could be argued that any claim for the Housing Association to be registered now that it knows that you have been in possession of the land and have spent time and money dealing with the land following those comments made by the Developments Office in 2020 could be a matter that comes under the legal term "estoppel".

                        That would be a legal argument if the land is to be registered and the Housing Association then seek a possession order against you.

                        Obviously any possession claim will need to be decided by a court. At which time legal costs will need to be taken into consideration should you decide to fight it based on a claim of estoppel.

                        You may want to inform the Housing Association that you took possession because of the verbal comments made to you and as such it does seem as though the HA will be "estopped" from making a claim for possession even if they do go ahead and apply to be registered as the legal owner.

                        That could be a way of negotiating a deal whereby you remain on the land even if you do so as a tenant paying a small amount of rent, or as the owner if an agreement to sell the land to you was to be made.

                        Other than trying to negotiate you will just have to wait and see whether matters progress to the stage where you receive a claim for Possession is made in the course of time.

                        With that prospect in mind you will need to think about future spending rather than just continuing to use the land for your own benefit.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Pilman as always so learned. Thank you so much for your comments. There is an old chap that lives next door to the land and prior to me taking it over we had some dialogue and it went a little like this.
                          We first met on the land while he was pulling weeds and trimming trees, to try and help save his property getting damaged by the overgrowing foliage. I asked him if it was his, and he replied that it was the Housing associations and he had been after it himself for about 15 years. This chap is now well into his 80’s but we did start up a detailed conversation over the next month or so and got really quiet friendly.
                          He turned up on my doorstep one afternoon and in front of witnesses said that he was getting too old to be able to maintain the land anymore and if I could get it then I had his blessing. Without him saying that it would have made things difficult to say the least. Anyway that’s the back story to how I ended up taking the land a mixture of two people and 20 years of abandonment. I think if asked he would back up my situation in the fact that he too has been maintaining it for well over a decade proving that the council or HA have not been on it or bothered about it in all that time.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            As is alluded to above, you may want to think about how you would pay for the land if you end up in a compromise with the HA where you can buy the land at a discount rather than have to go to court to get you off the land.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Hi Sydaton yes this is certainly something I have considered. I was thinking that the land could be valued as it would have been in 2003 because that’s the last time they in theory had it. I don’t have unlimited funds and money is a little tight to say the least. But I would bet they will be greedy and want todays value for it. I do understand that I have taken someone else’s land, I have spent lots of time and money already on this. To be honest part of me wishes I had never taken this on. But I did so I guess I have to see it through.

                              Comment

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