Landowners and residents of rural communities have recently been receiving notices from the Land Registry about rights over their land. Why is this and should you be concerned?
The simple answer is ‘no’. The spate of notices served by the Land Registry does not just affect rural landowners but those in urban areas too. The notices have been prompted by legislation called the Land Registration Act 2002 which provides that certain ancient rights (such as those attaching to lordships of the manor) would cease to exist on a sale of land after 13 October 2013 if they are not registered at the Land Registry.
The change to the law has prompted many applications for registration of manorial rights, which include sporting rights, and also registration of ownership of mines and minerals. The Land Registry is required to consider these applications and, if they appear valid, will notify the affected landowners. Consequently you might receive a letter telling you that somebody is claiming an interest in your land. This should not be a cause for alarm because the rights are not new and will be referred to in your title. The document containing them could be very old as some rights have existed for hundreds of years.
The Land Registry allows landowners a period of time to object to the application but, in many cases, there will be no basis on which you can do so. It is prudent to have your solicitor check the title to your land to ensure that the appropriate rights do in fact affect it but, if they do, there is no cause for concern. The only practical difference for most landowners is that the right will be noted on the registered title to the land in future.
There have been mutterings that the registration of mines and minerals will lead to compensation claims from the owner of those assets where they have been disturbed by building work. It is unlikely that this will affect most small landowners and homeowners although claims are conceivable where large-scale development work is undertaken so landowners with potential development sites do need to consider this issue with their solicitor.
The changes to the law should have the effect of clarifying who owns what with regard to land and property ensuring that unusual rights are now clearly identified on the register of title. These applications should not be a cause for alarm but it is wise to check the position with your solicitor.
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