Being able to park outside your house or flat is an important practical consideration for most homeowners. This is also something which may reduce the value of a property if there is no parking – especially if the property is in a town or city with limited places to park.
The Court of Appeal has recently heard an important case regarding parking. The property involved is a block of flats on long leases, a typical arrangement for millions of homeowners up and down the country. These long leases were entered into between about 1974 and 1979 and the Court had to decide whether a right to park on an adjacent private road had legally been created for the benefit of the leaseholders.
A right to park is an example of an easement. This is a right enjoyed by the owner of one piece of land over the land of another. An easement is an important legal right and must be distinguished from lesser interests, such as a licence. A licence is merely a personal right which benefits an individual. It is not possible to pass the benefit of a licence to subsequent landowners. It is the right to use services, such as access, parking and utilities, which gives property its value. A property, whether a house or flat, that has no legal right of access or right to park will not be worth as much as a property with those rights. So, these issues are very important for property owners.
What is interesting about the case is that the Court found that the 'settled practice' of the residents parking on the road led to the conclusion that a legal easement had been created. This case is specific to its own facts and does not mean that every instance of ad hoc parking over time will lead to the creation of a legal right benefitting a property. But what the case does illustrate is the importance of obtaining specialist legal advice when purchasing a property.
These rights are often found in complex legal documents; in this case the leases went back well over 50 years. Choosing a property lawyer when buying a property should not be dictated by price – who wants the cheapest provider dealing with your most important financial purchase? Choosing a property lawyer based on independent recommendation and expertise are much safer ways of protecting your investment.
To discuss this or any other property matter, contact us.