My freeholder stole my garden for a parking spot - The Sunday Times Home Experts

Ed Cracknell, Partner in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, property litigation team.
Ed Cracknell
2 min Read

Q: I own the leasehold of a ground-floor flat in a converted Victorian house. Recently I decided to put my flat on the market. When I looked at the plan included in the lease I noticed 8 sq m shown as my garden has been used as parking for other flats in the house, and a boundary wall is in a different position. Despite signing off the plan as correct when he first sold the lease 13 years ago, the freeholder is now arguing that it never showed the true extent of my property or the position of the boundary wall, and simply needs amending to show I own less land. The freeholder fitted the parking bays four years after the plans were drawn up, suggesting he took the land at that point to fit the bays. I purchased the lease believing the plan to be correct. An estate agent told me that extending the garden and repositioning the wall to match the plan would significantly increase the value of my property. What are my rights in asking for the wall and garden to be redeveloped to match the plan, and who would be liable for the cost of doing the work? Given that I am unable to use an area of my property, and that I am keen to sell, can I ask for this work to be completed promptly?

A: The starting point is that if your Land Registry plan shows the land as demised to you, then you own it. On the face of it, the freeholder’s wall is trespassing on your land. However, it may not be as clear cut as that. It may be relevant to understand the original leaseholder’s position on this at the time the parking bays were laid. If they consented or even acquiesced to it, that might limit your ability to complain about it now.

Property and housing litigation partner Ed Cracknell appears in The Sunday Times Home Experts answering a reader's question. 

My freeholder stole my garden for a parking spot can be read on The Sunday Times website via subscription. 

Ed is a partner in the property and housing litigation team. He specialises in all aspects of property litigation and property dispute resolution. His areas of expertise include landlord and tenant disputes, business lease renewals, rent and service charge recovery, possession proceedings, and dilapidations claims.

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