Buying Land From A Neighbour – What You Need To Know

Buying Land From A Neighbour

There are a number of issues to consider before buying land from a neighbour, whether you want to extend your home or simply build a garage.

Whatever your needs are, it’s crucial that you do your homework first on how to how to buy a neighbour’s land, and using the services of an experienced solicitor could be worth the investment to ensure success.

Essentially, when you want to buy a small piece of land from a neighbour to build a house or even several properties, you need to understand the process is not always straightforward.

Despite this, there has apparently been a rise in recent years in the number of people selling plots of land to their neighbours for a variety of reasons, including when they want to develop their home or extend their garden.

There is a process for buying land from a neighbour and it includes:

  • Does your neighbour have the legal right to transfer or sell the land?
  • You need to understand exactly the piece of land you want to buy;
  • How much you will pay for it?
  • How much will the legal costs be?
  • Do you need a surveyor?

Don’t forget that if the land has planning permission, then it will cost more to buy.

The process to purchase land will need a solicitor to draw up the appropriate contract, and this depends on what you agree with the seller.

You must agree to some terms and conditions that will protect your current and future position after the purchase has been completed.

Buying land with a mortgage over it

One of the first considerations when buying land from a neighbour is whether they have a mortgage over their property.

If so, they’ll need their lender to consent to release part of their property’s land into your ownership.

And don’t naturally assume that the lender will give consent because this will depend on:

  • The land’s value;
  • How much remains on your neighbour’s mortgage.

This last point is very important because you will need the lender to remove their interest over the land that you want to buy.

If you don’t do this, there’s a chance that if your neighbour falls into mortgage arrears, then you may lose the land because it’s part of the mortgage debt.

It’s these legal technicalities that need to be covered and understood before you invest in the land – and why a solicitor should be used.

Buying land with a restrictive covenant

There’s also another issue when it comes to buying land from a neighbour, and that’s the problem of a restrictive covenant.

This means that there are legal restrictions in the property’s title that will prevent, or perhaps limit, what you can do with the land, for example, building additional buildings.

Again, an experienced solicitor or conveyancer will be able to explain this issue to you.

Planning permission on land you buy

Even if the land you are buying already has planning permission on it, you still need to go through the planning process.

Regardless of whether you want to buy land from your neighbour to extend your property, build a garage or even extend your garden, planning permission may be needed.

You may be buying land that already has planning permission on it but you will still need to submit plans and go through the planning process which will see the local authority taking into account any objections from neighbours.

Also, if the land you are buying is in a conservation area, the council may need to give additional consent before you can even consider building on the plot.

This also raises the issue before you part with cash to consider:

  • Are there access rights over the land?
  • Drainage issues;
  • Water supply considerations;
  • Other easements include gas, electricity and the sewers.

Even if you simply want to buy the land to create a new parking space for your property, you should check with the local planning authority whether you will require planning permission to do so.

Buying a neighbour’s plot of land

There are other issues to consider when buying a neighbour’s plot of land and one of them is knowing whether the plot is actually for sale.

While they may not have put it up for sale, it may be worth having a conversation to see whether they would be open to the idea of selling their plot to you.

Other considerations when buying a garden or land include:

  • Do you know where your property boundary is?
  • Does your neighbour own the entire plot they want to sell?

If they have a leasehold title – that means they are the tenant – then you could buy their leasehold interest, or you could contact the owner to see if you could buy the land’s freehold title.

How to check who owns the land

The first step if you need to find out who owns the land you want to buy, is to contact the HM Land Registry.

For a small fee, they will check if the land is registered, and for another small fee, they will identify who the registered owner is.

If the land is registered with the Land Registry, and your neighbour is the registered owner, then you can proceed with buying the plot.

If there are issues over who owns the land, you will need documentation from your neighbour to prove that they actually do own it.

How much will it cost to buy a neighbour’s plot?

Research is key when you want to know how much it will cost to buy a neighbour’s piece of land.

If your neighbour did not advertise that the land was for sale, then you may struggle to work out how much it’s worth.

You could contact an estate agent or a land valuer to help determine the land’s price early on in negotiations.

There are some considerations when buying land from a neighbour and they include:

  • Appreciate that the value of your land will increase, but your neighbour’s property value will fall;
  • The price of land will increase if things like a garden shed, a boundary wall or fence or a patio area stand on the land;
  • Appreciate that what might appear to be a barren or unused patch of land that is not worth a lot to you, might actually be worth substantially more to your neighbour if they have plans for it.

Also, if they have a summerhouse, water features, or outdoor lighting on the land, this will push the price up.

What to do when you have bought your neighbour’s land

One of the first things you should do in order to buying a neighbour's land is to work with a surveyor.

The process of knowing how to buy your neighbour’s land, and what to do with it afterwards includes:

  • Approach your neighbour to ensure they want to sell their land;
  • Negotiate a price;
  • Draw up a plan that identifies the land;
  • Contact the Land Registry to update their records for your neighbour’s title and your title;
  • Consider working with a surveyor who will take care of the details and also prepare the plan for the Land Registry.

This last point is important because you need to determine exactly where the new boundary for your property will be.

You also need to have your neighbour agree with this and how it will be marked and then maintained.

It’s at this point you may find that your neighbour may try to have a restrictive covenant put in place that will detail what you can and cannot do with the land under specific circumstances

These circumstances may then prevent you from making alterations, including the building of an extension or garage, for instance.

However, if your neighbour and you are in agreement, then your solicitor will be able to act on behalf of both parties which will also keep the legal costs to a minimum.

The solicitor will arrange for you and your neighbour to sign the transfer of the land and then complete the administrative tasks to complete the purchase of the land.

Usually, in a straightforward process of buying land from a neighbour, you should be able to complete the entire process in under two weeks.

What to know when buying land from a neighbour

Essentially, when you are thinking of buying land from a neighbour, you should discuss the situation with your solicitor before starting the process.

That’s because someone with experience in buying and selling land will need to consider the practical issues, such as planning permissions and rights of access before any contract is signed.

It’s here that having an experienced solicitor will pay dividends to ensure that when you buy land that the process is smooth, and you can then fulfil your hopes and ambitions for the plot afterwards.

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