When Fridaysmove Conveyancing Solicitor Laura Gill represented the buyer of a semi-detached house in Huntley Close, Clifton, Nottingham NG8, she discovered that the mines and minerals had previously been excluded from the property and there was mention of an old mining lease. It was also subject to some restrictions contained in the registered title. Details of the agreed terms were received from the sellers' agents, Haart of 14-15 Tudor Square, West Bridgford, Nottingham NG2 6BT, confirming that the Conveyancing Solicitors acting for the vendors would be Massers also of West Bridgford.
The Solicitors sent Laura the usual contract package, including a copy of the land registry title and plan for the property. On looking through the title entries, Laura noted that the title register mentioned that mines and minerals were reserved and an old mining lease affected the area. Prior to nationalisation of coal in 1947, coal reserves were privately owned. When land was sold in an area where coal was known to exist, owners often reserved mines and minerals below the land, with the right to work them usually by underground working. They would then lease the mineral rights to a colliery company. The old leases ceased to be of relevance after nationalisation and even following the privatisation of the coal industry, all coal reserves are still nationally owned.
Since it was known that mining had previously been carried on in Nottinghamshire, a search was carried out to confirm that the house was not known to have suffered from subsidence, and that it was not in an area affected by any current workings.
The title register also stated that the house was subject to certain restrictive covenants, some of which were set out verbatim in the register itself, while others were expressed to be contained in a 1992 conveyance. The register stated that a copy of this conveyance was held by the land registry, but the sellers' Conveyancing Solicitors had not provided a copy.
Laura therefore had to ask them to supply a covenant that was set out in the register as follows:
"The Purchasers to the intent and so that the covenant thereinafter contained should at all times thereafter be binding on the said lands thereby conveyed and ensure for the benefit and protection of the lands next thereinafter mentioned and of every part of such land did thereby for themselves and their successors in title covenant with the Vendor and his successors in title the owner or owners for the time being of so much of the Clifton Estate comprised in the Settlement therein before referred to as was not thereby conveyed and might from time to time remain unsold that the Purchasers and their successors in title would at all times thereafter in relation to the said lands thereby conveyed observe and perform the following stipulations namely:-
The Purchasers would not carry on or permit or suffer to be carried on upon the land thereby conveyed or on any part or parts thereof or in any building then or to be erected thereon or on any part or parts thereof any offensive noisy or dangerous trade or business or permit or suffer thereon or therein anything which may become a nuisance or annoyance (whether indictable or not) to the owners or occupiers from time to time of any adjoining or neighbouring or adjacent property of the Vendor or his successors in title and persons entitled under him or them. "
These are typical of covenants contained in older deeds and are not usually of any great concern to buyers, but Laura nevertheless asked the sellers for confirmation that they were not in breach of the covenant.
It appeared that the house had originally been constructed by the local council, and it was therefore also necessary to check that the 1992 Conveyance by the council was made under the provisions of the Housing Act 1985. Where councils sell property under the statutory discount scheme to sitting tenants, various provisions will automatically be incorporated in any transfer made pursuant to the 1985 Act. These include rights for owners to use access roads and footpaths crossing the remainder of the council estate, and shared drains and sewers. Many council conveyances do not include express provisions for the use of such common facilities, so Conveyancing Solicitors acting for buyers need to check that a property has been transferred under the provisions of the Act.