christianbeccy

Ransom Strip - Best Solution (Boundary Error!!)

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Posted (edited)

We're currently trying to get our heads around the legal aspects of splitting our property into 2.

 

There is a "Ransom Strip" situation across our drive, whereby our immediate neighbour owns a strip around 20ft wide that we have to cross to gain access. It was an amicable agreement made in the late 80's between 2 friendly neighbours as the easier/cheaper solution to prevent dual-ownership of the piece of land. Of course, now owners have changed, it's circumstances mean nothing.

 

We haven't spoken with any of our neighbours yet about our potential plans, but want to start having those conversations soon. The neighbour that owns the strip in question seems nice enough, but of course I'm sure will obtain legal advice on our situation when we land it upon them, which may end up with them being told the beneficial situation they are in.

 

What has emerged though is that we have discovered a fairly substantial boundary error. A fence has been placed on our side of a hedge that, by measurement appears to be ours. The discrepancy is around 4-6 feet at one end, tapering off to 1-2 feet at the other end, along an 80ft length, so pretty significant in terms of area.

 

Could this be a valid bargaining tool if the discussion goes that way? In other words, can we propose to gift them the lost land in exchange for an amicable solution to the Ransom Strip? Of course, we want this to be our 'trump card', it is possible she might agree to grant us access for the new property without any bargaining, in which case the land loss situation can just sit there until the build is done as it's not really detrimental at the moment.

 

Here are the 3 possible solutions as I see it, in order of preference for us -

 

1. She simply grants us like access for both properties with no mention of the land loss. She is quite friendly, we get on well and our development will in fact bring some positive changes that I know she'll be keen on.

2. In return for the lost land, she agrees to give us a piece of land of the same area at the entrance of our driveway, thus removing the legal ransom strip. I need to calculate this to make sure it's viable, but it works in principle. I think we'd both leave that part of our driveway unfenced as it currently is to aid convenience, but we'd have the security of knowing we can never become landlocked, even if future owners decide to make things difficult.

3. She grants our access in return for the land we've lost, with the boundary being adjusted legally. Everything on the ground remains the same.

 

Edit - In fact, what would be even nicer is if the wording of the Grant of Access is such that its benefits get passed down the newly created title, but we won't know that for sure until we get it legally inspected I guess.

 

Anyone got any thoughts to add on this? Thanks in advance.

Edited by christianbeccy

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15 minutes ago, christianbeccy said:

There is a "Ransom Strip" situation across our drive, whereby our immediate neighbour owns a strip around 20ft wide that we have to cross to gain access.

 

Presumably in addition to the ransom strip there is something in the deeds to your bungalow (or the ransom strip?)  that allows you access but which would prevent access if you split the bungalow plot in two? Have you had the wording of that checked carefully to see if it's enforceable? Many old covenants aren't because of court cases have changed or clarified the rules.

 

One option might be to dream up a scenario for "dual ownership" that requires the neighbours help without mentioning your plans to split and develop the land. Perhaps something like "My brother wants to lend me some money to do up the bungalow but he's asked to be on the deeds in case I can't pay him back. I can't give him half due to this covenant... "

 

 

 

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I wouldn’t mention the boundary error 

We had a similar situation that worked in our favor  and was advised that fifteen years had past with us maintaining the land in question So it would be to late for someone to reclaim it 
 

Dual ownership would be a likely option 

As soon as you mention building another house You will leave  yourself open to paying some money out 

 

There was one on GDs recently that held there build up for 12 months While they had access for themselves The farmer Insisted there was no access  for there lorrys for there build 

Settlement was reached on the day of the court hearing 

Predictably 

 

 

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If you have right of access over the land this will normally be inherited by the other plot(s) you create.  Clear this with your lawyers before submitting your planning application.

 

The boundary issue and the location and ownership of the fence is a separate issue from the access rights and should remain so.  Boundary disputes can be acrimonious and expensive to resolve.

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2 hours ago, christianbeccy said:

 agreement made in the late 80's 

 

which may end up with them being told the beneficial situation they are in.

 

A fence has been placed on our side of a hedge 

 

in which case the land loss situation can just sit there until the build is done as it's not really detrimental at the moment.

without knowing anything other than what you cover in your post these are the things that stand out to me.

 

Agreement made in the 80s....fence been there since then? If so, the land isikely theirs now so you have no bargaining chip there - they hold all the aces.

 

Beneficial situation - yep. If their solicitor is any good they will rightly advise their client to milk every penny they can out of you for this.

 

"Until the build is done" - this suggests you may attempt to address the boundary issue at some point. It will be a costly exercise trying to sort that out and you may not win.

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You need proper legal advice on exactly what the right of access says.

 

If it grants your plot a right of access that may also apply to another plot created by a split.  If they were canny, they would have worded it as a right of access for one dwellinghouse, in which case you will have to start negotiating.

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2 hours ago, Temp said:

 

Presumably in addition to the ransom strip there is something in the deeds to your bungalow (or the ransom strip?)  that allows you access but which would prevent access if you split the bungalow plot in two? Have you had the wording of that checked carefully to see if it's enforceable? Many old covenants aren't because of court cases have changed or clarified the rules.

 

One option might be to dream up a scenario for "dual ownership" that requires the neighbours help without mentioning your plans to split and develop the land. Perhaps something like "My brother wants to lend me some money to do up the bungalow but he's asked to be on the deeds in case I can't pay him back. I can't give him half due to this covenant... "

 

 

 

 

Yes, the then owner of our house (my Grandmother and Husband - both now deceased) and the neighbour jointly bought an old access lane that ran between them. The legal decision was to split the land so that our property took the upper end of the lane, the other took the lower end. They didn't realise until well into the conveyancing process that the portion of land was a little bigger than expected and stretched across the driveway, therefore access would be affected. One or the other would have to grant access or have a dual ownership situation of some sort, so for simplicity they decided to do it this way. Both pockets of land had their own title number.

 

The land adjoining our house was eventually merged into the whole plot and it's individual title number was done away with. The neighbours part I guess couldn't be because that would affect the grant of access that had been legally provided. At the moment we have legal rights to pass the strip to access our property whilst it is a Single Dwellinghouse, but if they had merged it, I guess it would be hard to deal with so as not to end up giving us the right to cross any part of their property.

 

I did instruct a solicitor last week to inspect the Deeds Covenants, but he has kinda hoodwinked me by pointing out that this is 'out of scope' for his current remit, so he needs another chunk of money. I was under the impression that he would break down all the restrictions placed upon us, but it hasn't turned out that way at all. Annoyingly, my query was assigned to a Solicitor operating at Director level (who knows why?), so any additional labour hours are at Director rates (£250+VAT/hour).

 

 

1 hour ago, Mr Punter said:

If you have right of access over the land this will normally be inherited by the other plot(s) you create.  Clear this with your lawyers before submitting your planning application.

 

The boundary issue and the location and ownership of the fence is a separate issue from the access rights and should remain so.  Boundary disputes can be acrimonious and expensive to resolve.

 

Yes, that's what I'm hoping for. In fact we're subject to 2 separate access agreements and if one or both does get inherited, I feel that we're in a great position. I might be ignorant, but I think the access is the challenge for us, we have so much scope for flexibility in the plans.

 

If we get to do our build and everything goes our way, I'm unlikely to bother pursuing the boundary issue. The plot is very big and we'd probably sell the part affected by the land-loss anyway.

 

49 minutes ago, LA3222 said:

without knowing anything other than what you cover in your post these are the things that stand out to me.

 

Agreement made in the 80s....fence been there since then? If so, the land isikely theirs now so you have no bargaining chip there - they hold all the aces.

 

Beneficial situation - yep. If their solicitor is any good they will rightly advise their client to milk every penny they can out of you for this.

 

"Until the build is done" - this suggests you may attempt to address the boundary issue at some point. It will be a costly exercise trying to sort that out and you may not win.

 

I don't know when the fence went in, I'd guess the owner of the other property doesn't either. It's timber posts and PVC-coated chain link, in good repair, so I can't imagine it's that old. My guess is that it was put in within the last 10 years, my Grandmother was quite old and if anyone wanted to do anything, she was pretty compliant. My guess is that the neighbour asked her and she just told them to get on with it. In fact part of it is a little in our favour (only about a foot wide strip by my reckoning). Of course I'd be happy to lose the bit we've gained if we gained the bit we'd lost.

 

As for the financial aspect, I know the risks with people getting greedy. Nothing we can do though, just pray that we don't actually NEED them to agree anything, if the rights get inherited.

 

As for the boundary, if I did ever choose to pursue it after the event, it would be on a conversational basis only. For the reasons mentioned above, if we get to build, this would be incidental.

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1 minute ago, ProDave said:

You need proper legal advice on exactly what the right of access says.

 

If it grants your plot a right of access that may also apply to another plot created by a split.  If they were canny, they would have worded it as a right of access for one dwellinghouse, in which case you will have to start negotiating.

 

See that's where I'm curious. It does mention a Single Dwellinghouse, but if the plots were split, there would only be one Dwellinghouse on the Title number that the original agreement was drawn up with, so if the rights were inherited, each plot would indeed only have a Single Dwellinghouse. I realise I need legal advice, see last post for how I've been shafted there. Groan.

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2 hours ago, LA3222 said:

Agreement made in the 80s....fence been there since then? If so, the land isikely theirs now so you have no bargaining chip there - they hold all the aces.

 

What you could do is...

 

Offer to sell it to them for a nominal £1 inc costs subject to contract. Get an acceptance in writing and then back out. Any claim to adverse possession would then fail because the agreement to purchase would amount to them admitting you own it.

 

...but they would never speak to you again! 

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1 hour ago, christianbeccy said:

At the moment we have legal rights to pass the strip to access our property whilst it is a Single Dwellinghouse

 

1 hour ago, christianbeccy said:

See that's where I'm curious. It does mention a Single Dwellinghouse, but if the plots were split, there would only be one Dwellinghouse on the Title number that the original agreement was drawn up with, so if the rights were inherited, each plot would indeed only have a Single Dwellinghouse. I realise I need legal advice, see last post for how I've been shafted there. Groan.

 

Its all going to come down to the exact wording of that access right. Every comma or missed apostrophe might matter.

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It may be worth seeing if an insurance policy exists for this risk

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13 hours ago, Temp said:

 

What you could do is...

 

Offer to sell it to them for a nominal £1 inc costs subject to contract. Get an acceptance in writing and then back out. Any claim to adverse possession would then fail because the agreement to purchase would amount to them admitting you own it.

 

...but they would never speak to you again! 

And then the ransom strip WOULD be a BIG issue.

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14 hours ago, Temp said:

 

What you could do is...

 

Offer to sell it to them for a nominal £1 inc costs subject to contract. Get an acceptance in writing and then back out. Any claim to adverse possession would then fail because the agreement to purchase would amount to them admitting you own it.

 

...but they would never speak to you again! 

 

Haha, brilliant!!

 

33 minutes ago, ProDave said:

And then the ransom strip WOULD be a BIG issue.

 

Definitely.

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Thanks for your input everyone. Can anyone recommend a good property lawyer that could comprehensively analyse my legal responsibilities? Also, what should I expect to pay?

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21 minutes ago, christianbeccy said:

....what should I expect to pay?

 

Write to three lawyers; describe the problem succucintly,  and ask each of them for a fee proposal.

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