There are varied opinions regarding claiming land that you have maintained over a period of time. Through this blog post, we will learn whether or not you can claim land from the council and if so, under what circumstances is it possible. In addition to this, we will also discuss how someone can extend their council house, what are fencing rules and what s are the conditions under which planning permission or building regulations are required.

Can I Claim Land From The Council?

You may be able to claim land from the council via adverse possession of land if the land is retained within the boundaries of the council property you reside in and is surrounded by a wall. You may have to indicate an intention to possess and not an intention to own the land.

Generally speaking, if you have fenced off a piece of land and have regularly maintained it, you may be able to claim it in the form of possessory title after a period of 6 years and absolute title after a period of 12 years. In some cases, residents have been known to claim possession of the land that they have maintained for 10-12 years.

Under certain exceptional situations, council housing residents have also purchased small areas of land on council estates. To be able to claim possession of such land, claimants need to make sure of the following conditions:

  • The land area is less than 50 square metres in size 
  • It is not suitable for redevelopment 
  • It is not used by others for access

Estate green and alleyways are not considered in such cases.

Can I Extend My Council House?

Yes, you can extend your council house as long as you have taken permission from the council authority to proceed with any work on council property. Their permission will mainly depend on the type of council tenancy that an applicant is under. 

Secure tenants will find it easier to be granted permission for making major changes such as adding an extension to their council house as they are eligible to continue remaining as occupants for a lifetime. However, fixed tenants will not be able to attain permission until they qualify to become secure tenants.

Despite your tenancy status, you will still need to get your design for the extension approved by the council office and planning permission. 

Which Side Of The Fence Is Mine In A Council House?

If you live in a stand-alone house,  both sides of the fence of a council house are your responsibility. This means that you are responsible for maintaining both sides. However, if you live in a semi-detached or terraced council housing facility, it can be a debatable topic to ascertain which side of the fence belongs to you. 

While some council housing residents may refer to the office copies of their property while others may consider looking at the boundary of their council house to determine the side of the fence that is their responsibility. 

Generally speaking, when fences are installed, the frames are kept on the reverse side from one’s property so as to provide the good side or more smoothly polished side to one’s neighbour and have the bad side or the one with posts and rails showing on one’s own side. In this manner, each resident in semi-detached council homes gets one good side and one bad side of the fence.

What Are The Fencing Rules Regarding A Council House?

Below are some basic rules that apply to council homes:

  • Fences should be 1.8 to 2 metres in height at the rear and 1 metre at the front.
  • If a tenant intends to have a higher fence than the suggested guideline, they will need to seek approval from Planning Permission.
  • The tenant must get permission from the Tenancy Services Team before constructing a fence on the premises.
  • Your fence wall should be inside your boundary wall.
  • Tenants cannot remove existing fences without written approval from local council authorities.

If you want a higher fence or a more secure one for your pets than the one that is provided by the council, you will need to erect one on your one and bear its cost. You will need the council’s permission before you make any alterations to council property even if you have purchased the council house you live in.

What Changes To Council Property Require Permission From The Council?

Changes to council property that need permission from council authorities include the following:

  • Building a parking space, garage, hard standing or driveway
  • Electrical work 
  • Flooring (this does not include) 
  • Gas work; such as central heating 
  • Installing a new kitchen or bathroom 
  • Installing a satellite dish or aerial
  • Installing a shed, porch, fence, conservatory, greenhouse, patio, decking, aviary, pigeon loft, fishpond, pool, or similar structure in the garden 
  • Plumbing work 
  • Structural work 

When Do I Need Planning Permission?

In case of any of the following changes to your property due to the extension, Planning Permission will be required:

  • More than 50 per cent of the land around the main house is going to be covered.
  • The extension is going to be located at the front of the house or on a side with an adjacent highway.
  • The materials to be used in the extension are not the same as the main house.
  • The height of the extension will be higher than the highest point on the roof of the main house.
  • The height of the eaves and ridges will be higher than those of the main house.
  • There is going to be an addition of raised platforms, balconies or verandahs. 

What Is Included In Permitted Development?

The scope of Permitted Development runs across varied projects that may be related to the internal or external structure of a property. Home improvement projects under Permitted Development include the following:

  • building of a small rear extension 
  • construction of a porch 
  • changes of use including loft, garage or basement conversions
  • knocking down internal walls
  • installation of solar panels 
  • installation of satellite dishes 
  • addtition of rooflights or dormer windows

What Are Building Regulations?

These are some basic standards for the design and structural changes that are to occur and are essential to be met during the construction, conversion or refurbishment of properties. Building Regulations have been set to assure that the health and safety of the residents will not be compromised in any way as a result of the said modifications to the property. 

These include the following:

  • Structural changes such as house extensions or conversions should not affect a load-bearing wall, beam or chimney breast or which will make access to property difficult. 
  • There should be no electrical safety concerns due to the addition of fuse boxes or plugs, or a change of electrics that causes new electrical wiring.
  • Installation of heating appliances such as a boiler, radiator or fuel-burning appliance should be managed with extreme caution.
  • There should be no concern for fire hazards due to construction work and the escape route (of the added/converted section to the premises) must comply with fire safety standards.
  • Installation of a new bathroom or kitchen should not affect the overall plumbing of the house.
  • New windows, doors or fixed air-conditioning systems should meet the safety and design standards set by Building Regulations.

What Are The Different Types Of Tenancies For Council Housing?

A tenancy agreement serves as a legal agreement bound by terms and conditions that the undersigning parties agree to while a living space is rented out. Tenancy agreements for council housing may be classified as below:

  • Introductory Tenancy: This is considered to be a 12 month trial period for tenants during which their rights to exchange property or make modifications to it are limited. Unless the tenant is evicted or the agreement extended for another 6 months, these will automatically convert to secure or flexible agreements once the trial period is over. 
  • Secure Tenancy: This form of tenancy secures your occupancy in the council house for life; unless you break any tenancy rules stated in the agreement. In this case, you may sub-let rooms in the property but not the entire premises. You may also transfer the tenancy to someone else, exchange the premises or even apply to purchase the property.
  • Flexible Tenancy: This type of tenancy is usually for a fixed term of 2 to 5 years; at the end of which the council may decide to offer you a renewed contract on similar terms, offer a secure tenancy or not renew at any terms at all. You continue to enjoy all the privileges of a secure tenant under such a contract; however, it remains time-bound. 
  • Joint Tenancy: This is a contract that comes into place after a secure or flexible tenancy as a result of the addition of a spouse/partner/joint tenant to your home. Under this contract, you and the joint tenant both become liable for rent payments and become eligible for all the privileges under secure tenancy jointly. 

Conclusion:

As discussed in the article, one may be able to claim land from the council as a result of adverse possession of land if the land is retained within the boundaries of the council property that they live in and is surrounded by a wall. You may have to indicate an intention to possess and not an intention to own the land. Generally speaking, if a resident has fenced off a piece of land and regularly maintains it, they may be able to claim it in the form of possessory title after a period of 6 years and absolute title after a period of 12 years. 

FAQs: Can I Claim Land From The Council?

How long do you have to maintain land before you can claim it?

You must have maintained a land for a minimum period of 10 years if you intend to claim the land through adverse possession.

What is the 7-year boundary rule?

While there is no formal rule, many people believe that it is possible for squatters to claim land that they have adversely possessed for 7 years.

How do I claim unowned land?

In order to claim unowned land, you should be able to prove exclusive possession of the land, intention to possess the land solely and possession of the land without anyone’s consent. This is termed adverse possession.

What proof do you need for adverse possession?

In order to prove adverse possession, the land must be acquired without the owners’ consent. There must be no forceful act, yet there should be no secrecy regarding the matter as well.

Can a neighbour claim my land?

If your neighbour has been in possession of your land for a minimum period of `12 years, they will be able to claim it.

References:

Claiming Council Land

People claiming land as their own next to their homes… | Mumsnet

Apply to buy land from the Council | Purchase a small area of housing land | Royal Borough of Greenwich

Is it possible to claim adverse possession of land owned by a council

Which side of the fence is mine council house?

Fences & gates

My council home has a garden – what do I need to know?

Garden Fencing

Extending a council house ??

Alterations to council properties | LBHF

Planning permission: When you do not need it – GOV.UK

Building regulations approval

Planning Permission | Extensions

Repairs and maintenance in your council house

Council housing: Types of tenancy

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