Lived on church land over 40 years and looking to move.. rights?

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    Lived on church land over 40 years and looking to move.. rights?

    Hi, this is my first post but I'm hoping somebody might be able to answer some of my questions.

    My parents-in-law have lived in a mobile home on a small piece of church (glebe) land on the side of a field for over 40 years. They used to pay a small monthly rent to the church but this stopped about 2 years ago when the local vicar changed and he didn't want any payments. The property is fenced off, has a registered address and postcode etc. My father-in-law took care of all maintenance of the site including the septic tank.

    The council wrote to them and visited recently them because the site license has expired and it needs to be renewed by the owner. The council did a land registry search and it confirmed the Church of England (local diocese) as the registered land owner. A few months ago my father-in-law passed away and my mother-in-law does not think she can stay in the home without him. My questions are:

    1. Assuming the site was granted a new site license, could she sell just the home (but not the land)? If this were possible, would she need to lease the land to do this? (The council have suggested leasing the land and obtaining the site license ourselves)
    2. As they have lived on the land for over 40 years do they have any rights to it at all (e.g.; adverse possession)?
    3. I am a little uncomfortable contacting the diocese as I worry a little they might start asking for arrears or even ask my mother-in-law to leave the site. Could that happen?
    4. I've read about the glebe land being sold off and wondered if they would be prepared to sell but I guess we won't know without asking them?
    5. What would you do?!

    Any help anyone can give me would be very much appreciated.

    #2
    1. You can't sell land you don't own - unless you are a fraudster like the bloke who sold Tower Bridge to an American :-). Presumably she could sell the home itself.

    2. Payment of rent is an acknowledgement that they don't own the land.

    3. I think you will need advice about any rights that exist as a result of the tenancy since it depends on the type of tenancy agreement etc (if such exists).

    It sounds a little irregular if you have paid a rent to the local vicar for land owned by the Diocese since the Parochial Church Council will be a separate charity with a legal personality and separate accounts, and I doubt whether the Vicar has the right to waive your rent unless acting as an official agent of the Diocese. If the rent has been passed on then via the local church or Vicar (who may be another separate legal personality in the role of "Incumbent"!) then the PCC or Incumbent wll have had to do an in-out shuffle in their accounts every year.

    The CofE usually takes care of legalities well these days, and Glebe Land is normally vested in and managed by Dioceses under the Endowments and Glebe Measure 1976.

    4. No idea what the selling price would be, but I can't see them giving huge discounts over market price at a time when everyone is under financial pressure. Unless you have some sort of leverage in your tenancy agreement etc.

    5. What would you do?!
    Eventually you will have to talk to the Diocese, but if you want a relatively informal exploration I'd recommend a cup of tea next week with the Parish Treasurer or Church Warden. Their phone details will be available from the Parish Mag, Notice Board, or Church or Diocesan Website (you need the Diocesan Directory). Or turn up 20 minutes before a Sunday Service - the Church Warden will be there to organise the building. You could just ring up the Diocese, and they will tell you.

    Whoever you talk to they will have to go away and research it in the files.

    I would probably take some advice on rights under the tenancy from a local solicitor before I spoke to the Diocese, and get the thing moving before the Council Mountain labours and produces an enforcement action of some sort.

    My punt at the outcome is that:

    a) The Diocese will want to renew the license to protect their rights to have it occupied for the future. I'd say work with them on that.

    b) They will aspire to use it to build a real house on in a couple of years if they think you wish to leave. The site may be worth £50 to £150k with Planning, and now is a good time for Planning Apps.

    c) You may get away without paying more rent, and I'd expect them to be lenient in allowing your mum to stay there for a few months while you and she sort things out for her next home, but I don't think there is a fairy godmother there who will give you £10k - unless you have a right to stay or take over and negotiate to surrender the tenancy on the basis of that right. They *may* give you an ex-gratia payment, or not.

    They are a Charity legally required to maximise income. That is why we have the Chancel Tax farrago.

    d) Perhaps offer to sell them the portable house for a suitable sum and take that as your bonus. Much less buggeration for everyone.

    ML
    Refer Mad Regulators to Arkell vs Pressdram.

    Comment


      #3
      The law on mobile homes has changed a bit recently. Call Shelter helpline and see what they advise. 0808 800 4444
      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


        #4
        '1. Presumably she could sell the home itself.'

        Does anyone know if the home could be sold (assuming they council granted a new site license to the diocese)? The home itself might not be worth much but the location and surroundings are appealing.

        '2. Payment of rent is an acknowledgement that they don't own the land.'

        That's right, my mother-in-law doesn't own the land, it belongs to the diocese.

        '3. I think you will need advice about any rights that exist as a result of the tenancy since it depends on the type of tenancy agreement etc (if such exists).'

        There's no such tenancy agreement.

        'It sounds a little irregular if you have paid a rent to the local vicar for land owned by the Diocese since the Parochial Church Council will be a separate charity with a legal personality and separate accounts..'.

        It does to me too but that what happened (apparently).

        'I would probably take some advice on rights under the tenancy from a local solicitor before I spoke to the Diocese..'

        I was hoping to avoid having to use a solicitor.

        Many thanks.

        Comment


          #5
          Have you 'phoned Shelter's **free** helpline 0808 800 4444??

          See..
          http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_ad...dvice_helpline

          Housing advice helpline

          Key advice

          Your call may take 10 to 20 minutes so set aside some time
          Try to organise a quiet place where you can talk
          Our helplines do get busy but keep trying if you can’t get through

          Call Shelter’s free housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444.

          Shelter's helpline is open 8am–8pm on weekdays and 8am–5pm on weekends, 365 days a year.

          Our housing experts will offer support you no matter what your housing situation.

          Calls are free from mobile phones and UK landlines.

          Plan your call

          It may be useful to take notes when you call the helpline.
          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


            #6
            Yes, tried a few times and couldn't get through.. so will keep trying.

            Comment

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