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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 22569
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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Hi I live adjacent to a brook for half my land and the other

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Hi I live adjacent to a brook for half my land and the other half used to have a public right of way running between my house and the brook, public right of way was removed approx 30 years ago who is now responsible for this tiny piece of land as it is extremely overgrown
Thank you for the question. It is my pleasure to help you with this today. Please bear with me if I ask for more information.

It is impossible to identify your property from the map on Google Earth.

Is it possible to let me have a sketch please?

Do you have any access to this land?

Have you asked the neighbours if anyone owns it?

How big is this piece of land?

Are you happy to maintain it yourself now?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Not sure how you attach a pic, we used to be able to access it via a gate in the wall from our garden, the land is approx seven metres in length by approx half a metre, the neighbour backs on to the other side of the brook had told me she owns it, first she brought it, then was told she was gifted it, the she said she has possessory title, however it has not been fenced off or maintained she had owned the property since dec 02


worry from now about the plan. I can probably tell you enough without knowing
the exact layout

If it
is simply overgrown, there is very little you can do about it, unless the
growth encroaches on your garden in which case you have a claim in common-law
nuisance against the owner, if this person is the owner.

If it
is simply overgrown and looks unsightly and because you do not like the
brambles and the overgrowth, the local authority will not normally do something
if it is simply growth and not full of junk. If it is full of junk, then they
will order it cleaned up.

If you
maintain it and treat it as your own for more than 10 years, and you have proof
of doing that (take photographs and date them when you start maintaining it,
and fence it etc), if the land is registered at the land registry, you can
apply to have it registered as yours under possessory title which is what the
neighbour claims to have done. I will come back to them, neighbour in a moment.

If the
land is not registered at the land registry, the period is 12 years.

think it highly unlikely that the owner on the other side owns such a narrow
strip of land on the far side of the brook. The presumption would be at her
land runs to the centre of the brook unless there is anything in the deeds to
the contrary.

your property land once belonged to her land, it seems inconceivable that the boundary
was put slightly to one side of the brook. I think it more likely that the wall
was put half a metre away from the brook to stop people falling into it, and to
separate your house from it.

cannot know, but if your property is particularly old, I think that is what
probably happened back in the mists of time.

owner opposite obviously is not certain of her facts and you can relatively
easily ascertain if she owns it under any kind of title or not, without asking

If you
take a copy of your land Registry title plan and mark the area on the title
plan in red edging and send it to the land registry with a form SIM from the
land registry

so that they can identify the land exactly, they will write back to you
and tell you whether it is registered or not and if it is registered, the title

The search used to be free, and then there was a small fee of I think
£10 and as far as I am aware, in October 2012, the fee was removed again. But
the land registry will advise you. I cannot see it on the current fee order

but it is not listed as being exempt either. Typical!

Once you have the title number, you can go here!ut/p/b1/04_SjzS0tDQwMTIxMjLXj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfGjzOKNjSxMDA1NjDwsjM3MDTxN3dyNDUNMjQ1MjPWDU_P0c6McFQH3SLFU/

and get the deeds of that land for just 3 pounds. It will say who owns
it and under what title, possessory or absolute. If it is not registered, then
this lady clearly is a bit of a storyteller.

If you start to maintain the land with a view to claiming adverse
possession, she will no doubt object on the basis that she wants the land also and
you are then back to square one.

You are then faced with trying to find out who owns it, or simply
maintaining it yourself, but never gaining possession.

I am sorry that it is such a long winded answer, but at least you have
all the facts.

Can I
answer any specific points arising?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Have done all that with land registry, paid to have her tile deeds, title plan and also asked land registry if tiny piece of land us registered under a different tile number, and it isn't, the only information I can find pertaining to this is in my deeds that say I have to maintain the wall forever more, and environmental state that as a riparian I own halfway into the brook, just hope this us all law as stated if it goes to court action as this is what the lady has said she will do thank you for your help x
In which case, from what you have just told me, this lady is obviously a storyteller.
You say that “environmental” are making a general comment, which applies if you own the riverbank. However, you do not say whether you actually have any rights to the brook or not
I cannot see that on these facts, this lady has any rights whatsoever, any more than you do, and indeed, in view of the fact that your land is on your side of the brook and her land is on the other side of the brook, in the absence of anything to the contrary, I think a court would find that it was yours and not hers, and that it had simply been omitted, for some reason, from your deeds or of course that it belonged to someone else.
The wall is the fly in the ointment, although I have already explained how I would argue that point.
It might be worthwhile solicitor writing to this lady asking her for proof of title and to see what the comment is an stating that if she does not come up with proof of title by a particular date, you will clean up the land yourself
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