Question: Lots of our friends have recently added value to their properties with a basement conversion. We’ve got a vault under our house which we hardly use. We can’t afford to convert it ourselves, but think it could be a good selling point when we eventually move. The new owners wouldn’t need to excavate as the space is already there. However, the vault is not shown on our title deeds. An estate agent told us we should sort out the paperwork before trying to sell. We are the only people with access to the vault. What do we need to do?
Answer: It’s not that difficult, although you may wish to instruct a solicitor to act for you. Application needs to be made to the Land Registry for title to the vault to be registered.
Search the index map to ensure the vault is not already registered. A statutory declaration must be prepared to support your application for registration of title to the vault.
The declaration should explain all the circumstances which confirm you are entitled to the vault, such as the length of time you have owned the property, whether you have had exclusive use of the vault, if anyone has ever tried to stop you using it or demanded rent for it from you.
Once prepared, the statutory declaration must be sworn before a solicitor — but not the one who prepared it for you.
You are likely to be granted possessory title rather than absolute title as your application is based on adverse possession.
Possessory title is granted if the person claiming ownership cannot produce documents of title to prove ownership, as in your case where you only have a statutory declaration.
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These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.