Homes England has demanded £750 from a couple living in the town of Redditch in Worcestershire, to formally procure their garden hedge and part of their home’s driveway.
Although Guy and Clare Stanbury had Land Registry documentation that appeared to clearly show they had owned the land since buying the property in 1996, they paid up to avoid any problems that might potentially arise in the future, if they declined.
Homes England is carrying out a trial in the Redditch and Bromsgrove areas regarding 500 plots of land they own that are described as micro-plots of property. The body says it owns ‘a significant quantity of small strips of land’ in the area.
Have these been kept back in order to receive a payment at a later date? If the access was required over this land, what advice did the purchasers’ conveyancers provide at the time of purchase?
So far approached 90 home owners regarding plots ‘for sale’. If home owners were disinclined to purchase the land on offer they were certainly under no obligation to do so – but Homes England said they would then ‘review further options to dispose of the land’. Is this almost government-backed blackmail?
Mr Stanbury said it would have cost £500 to have the boundaries of his property re-drawn. However, the fear that their land could be sold to a third party, which might charge the couple to access their property, meant it was ‘the lesser of two evils’ to accept that they didn’t own the land.
Homes England has said the trial may be rolled out across England in future.
Homes England is the government’s ‘housing accelerator’ and part of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, with a remit to release ‘more land to developers who want to make a difference’.
This action appears to be rather outrageous by some and calls into question the legal advice received by the home owners who appear, in some cases, to have been advised to buy a property with no established clear access to the public highway.
If you live in a property with boundary issues or are considering a house purchase, ask an independent Property Surveying RICS Chartered Surveyor to ascertain where the boundaries to the property lie.