You may be able to claim land that you have maintained for a number of years in the UK. Through this article, we will explore the ways through which one may be able to claim land that you have maintained. In addition to this, we will also discuss various aspects as well as the laws and regulations governing the ambit of housing in the UK.

How Do You Claim Land That You Have Maintained In The UK?

In order to claim land that you have maintained in the UK for a minimum period of 10 years, you will be required to make an application to the Land Registry in support of your claim. 

They will in turn write to the neighbours surrounding the property you claim so as to confirm if there is anyone else who intends to claim the same piece of land. Should this be the case, any party who objects to your claim of the land will have to do so in writing, clearly stating their reasons for doing so and providing evidence in support of their claim.

Should the Land Registry find this claim to be of merit, they will proceed with sharing this concern with the Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal for a determination. Otherwise, your application will be processed for assignment of claim.

Before making a claim on land through adverse possession, claimants need to make sure of the following conditions:

  • The claimant should have used and maintained the said piece of land for a minimum period of 10 years.
  • They should be able to provide proof of possession. This means that they should be able to claim exclusive physical control of the land by taking care of it as an owner would.
  • They should be able to provide proof of intention by maintaining the land and not using it merely as a parking space. 
  • There should be no deliberate obstruction of land or blockage of public highways as a result of this adverse possession.

Adverse possession is only possible in the case of unclaimed land; whether it is registered or unregistered.  

On the other side, in the case of unregistered land, anyone wishing to make a claim must have documents pertaining to the land often referred to as Title Deeds which can prove how the land came to belong to them. In order to register the land, you can file an application to the Land Registry with these Title Deeds.

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 

What Kind Of Changes To Property Affect My Council Tax Bill?

There are certain circumstances due to which properties may be revalued and their bands reassigned by the local council. Below is a list of factors that may cause a change in band:

  • a part of your property is demolished and is not rebuilt
  • the property is altered to subdivide it into self-contained units, (this could be a single unit with an annexe – each unit will be considered under a separate band) 
  • a single property is reconstructed into self-contained flats
  • flats are converted to a single property
  • residents start or stop working from home
  • changes were made to property the property by the previous owner
  • significant changes such as a new road are being made to the local area
  • the council tax band was changed for a property with similar features in the same area

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

Conclusion:

The discussion in this article brings us to the conclusion that in order to claim land that you have maintained in the UK, one must first ascertain whether the land is unclaimed or merely unregistered. In the case of unregistered land, anyone wishing to make a claim must have documents pertaining to the land often referred to as Title Deeds which can prove how the land came to belong to them so that they may file an application to the Land Registry. However, if you have used and maintained the said piece of land for a minimum period of 10 years, you can claim it under adverse possession.

FAQs: How Do You Claim Land That You Have Maintained In The UK?

Can I claim an unregistered piece of land?

Yes, you can claim an unregistered piece of land if you have maintained it for 10-12 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:

Adverse Possession – your right to acquire land that doesn’t belong to you | Rix & Kay.

Unregistered Land And Unclaimed Land: How To Register Or Claim It – SAS Daniels LLP

A Guide to Adverse Possession | Myerson Solicitors

Claiming Council Land

People claiming the 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

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John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.