Although most houses in towns front directly onto a public road, Conveyancing Solicitor Laura Gill found that was not the case for this property in the Sheffield. Although the house was numbered in Burncross Road, Chapeltown, Sheffield S35 it appeared from the title plan that the house did not have direct access to Burncross Road.
The sellers’ Conveyancing Solicitors were Taylor and Emmett of 20 Arundel Gate, Sheffield, S1 2PP, and they had sent a copy of the land registry title entries. Title plans form part of every registered title and show the area included in the registration. The plan for this property showed that it was on an irregularly-shaped plot, which did not have a direct frontage to Burncross Road. However, the title included a separate garage which fronted another road at the rear of the house. The garage was not directly behind the house, and the title therefore included two separate areas of land. Access to the garage from the house was via a small strip of land running from the garden behind the house along the rear of two neighbouring gardens and leading to the garage, and the title contained a note that there was a legal right of way on foot over this strip. That meant that there was direct access to the garage, and the garage itself directly fronted the other road.
However, access to the front door from Burncross Road was via an access shared with the owners of some adjoining properties. Though this was referred to in the title, the area of this right of way as shown on the title plan did not appear to extend as far as Burncross Road. The local search which Laura had ordered from Sheffield City Council confirmed that both roads were adopted, but did not include a map showing the precise extent of the adopted roadways. Laura therefore asked the sellers' Conveyancing Solicitors for evidence that there was a legal right of way between the area shown on the title plan and the apparent boundary of the road. The Solicitors could not show any further evidence, but their clients sent a photo showing that access from the road was by means of a flight of steps, which they believed were maintained by the Council as part of the road.
It can take time if enquiries have to be made to a council’s highways department to ascertain the precise area which is included in a public road, but sometimes this is essential if access could not otherwise be obtained. However in this case the sellers were able to confirm that they had used the front access for many years without anyone trying to stop them, and they had never been called upon to contribute to the maintenance of the steps. They agreed to give a statutory declaration to that effect, and to pay the premium for an indemnity policy which would benefit the buyers in the unlikely event of the access being challenged.
Everything else was satisfactorily resolved, so that the buyers were able to proceed with their purchase. The sellers’ agents, Winkworth of 11 Loundside, Chapeltown, Sheffield S35 2UQ were most helpful in assisting with the enquiries and generally keeping the sale on track, and appreciated that Laura had to raise these issues to satisfy the buyers’ mortgage lenders requirements.
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