Mind your manors, and your other rights

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Owners of certain rights and interests in land may need to take swift steps to protect them, writes property solicitor, Iain Robinson of Slee Blackwell Solicitors’ Barnstaple office in North Devon.

As of October 2013, some types of rights over land, including those often reserved to the lord of the manor, may not survive that land being bought and sold. If you have the benefit any of these rights (and you need not be a lord of the manor for this to be the case) you may need to act in the next ten months to register and protect them. Some rights over land are recorded at the Land Registry. The ones that sometimes are not include:

• hunting, fishing and shooting rights
• rights to mines and minerals
• rights to hold a fair or market
• some rights of way
• some occupation rights and, importantly
• rights to run pipes, wires or cabling

At the moment many of these rights will remain in effect even if the land changes hands. This will change on 13 October 2013; some of those rights will have to be registered, or the buyer of the land will not be bound by them. In many cases this will mean that people will ‘lose’ rights they never exercise, like the right to cut turf or hold a fair.

On occasion, though, these rights will be valuable and/or important, like mineral rights or rights to use important utilities. It is not uncommon to see rights to use water pipes or power cables, agreed on a handshake many years ago, completely undocumented.

Whether or not you ought to register the right depends on what the right is, when it arose, if and how it is documented and protected to date, and whether it is something you want to retain. Protecting a right is usually cheap (and in some cases free) at the Land Registry and the legal work involved is rarely expensive for the straightforward pipes and cables work. If you think you may have rights you ought to protect, you can contact Iain Robinson at Slee Blackwell Solicitors, on 01271 349 924, email him at [email protected] or pop in to see him at 10 Cross Street in Barnstaple. 10 December 2012