June 28, 2017


Written by Katherine Simpson
Posted in ,

Our homes are our most significant asset but from a property solicitor’s point of view when it comes to buying or selling, the value of a property depends on far more than its size, condition and location.
Most of us will be familiar with the searches that solicitors carry out once they are instructed by a buyer but not everyone will be aware of how import-ant they are or some of the pitfalls that can arise.
A property can be in prime condition and yet be sub-ject to some very knotty legal issues. Here are five examples of issues that we do encounter:
Right of Access
It is not uncommon to find strips of land that are not accounted for in titles and that can mean that you may not have express legal right over this land to gain access to your property or on the other hand neighbours may have a right of access over your property, perhaps over a driveway, which may affect your use or enjoyment of the property. Rights of access disputes can cause tensions between neighbours, so it is important that you know what your legal position is from the start.
Public sewers
Beyond the boundaries of a property, conveyancers have to consider what lies beneath. For example, if a large kitchen extension, built without the permission of the sewerage undertaker over or in close proximity of the public sewer, has been constructed in such a way that it obstructs the sewerage undertaker’s legal duty to maintain the public sewer, they can take action to remove the structure in order to gain access. However, in many cases and by prior agreement with the property owner, they will allow buildings to be constructed over or near to a public sewer, subject to certain conditions.
Improvement grants
If a homeowner had received a grant from the Local Authority to adapt or improve their property, for example to adapt the home to allow ease of movement for someone with disabilities, if there are any outstanding grant conditions, the buyer must ensure that the seller repays the outstanding grant liability in full before the house is sold. Otherwise the new owner can find that they have the problem of dealing with an outstanding charge  against their property.
Coal Mining
A number of local communities in the Swansea area once had mines in operation. It can mean that some properties may be vulnerable to subsidence and even gas emissions. A coal mining search helps assess if there are any hazards to be aware of and whether any further reports need to be obtained to satisfy the buyer or their mortgage lender’s requirements.
Enforcement issues
It may be hard to believe but there are homeowners that build extensions without applying for relevant planning permissions. Without them, the local authority can within certain time limits take enforcement action against these enhancements, which could directly impact not only on the value of the property, but also the use and enjoyment.
Outside the home, there may be a tree on the property that is subject to a Tree Preservation Order that home owners need to be aware of. It means that without first obtaining consent from the planning authority it can be an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, or destroy a tree protected under such an order, and you may be fined and made subject to enforcement action.
These are just a few of many reasons why your conveyancing transaction matters. No one wants to buy a home that loses value, proves difficult to sell or causes you problems whilst living there.
For more information call 01792 450010