Legal Q&A:Should we sell our garden to a builder?

Our neighbours’ son contacted us saying they want to buy part of our large garden. He is a builder so it is possible he may want to build a new house on the land rather than simply extending the size of his parents’ garden. If we sell, will this affect our mortgage and can we restrict how they use the land?

Question: Though our house is quite small we have a very large walled garden, and our neighbours’ son has contacted us saying that they would like to buy part of our land.

We assumed it was because his parents’ garden is quite small and as they are keen gardeners, they simply wanted a bigger plot.

However, a friend of mine thinks we are being naïve. He pointed out that our neighbours’ son, being a builder, might want to build a new house if we sell our garden to his parents.

The garden really is too big for us, so the thought of reducing its size and having less to look after is quite appealing — but we do not want to be taken for a ride. If we sell to them, what happens about our mortgage? And can we restrict how they use the land?

Answer: Selling part of your property is more complex than selling the whole of it. Establish the true intentions of your neighbours and their son, and whether they have a price in mind. Instruct a surveyor to advise you in relation to the value of your land, to ascertain if planning consent is likely to be granted for building, and to decide on the extent of the land you should sell. Parting with some of your garden may reduce the value of the property you retain.

If planning permission to build is possible, that is likely to increase the value of the land you sell. A Land Registry-compliant plan will be needed and the area to be sold should be pegged out.

Your mortgage lender will need to consent to the sale. Check whether there are covenants — ie restrictions — on your land preventing building, and seek legal advice about imposing covenants to protect the property that you are retaining. Rights of access and rights to services in respect of your remaining garden must also be considered.


If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a legal director in the private wealth group of Foot Anstey.

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