Trouble at the bottom of the garden

Our lawyer, Fiona McNulty, advises how to claim ownership of land that isn't included in the property's Land Registry records
Legal cartoon
© Merrily Harpur
Question: We are right in the middle of selling our house and the buyer's solicitor has noticed that part of our garden is not registered at the Land Registry like the rest of our property.

We've lived here for 15 years and the "missing" area has always been part of our garden - or, at least, we've treated it as such.

What can we do, as the buyer is panicking and threatening to pull out of the deal unless all the garden is registered at the Land Registry?

Answer: You can apply to the Land Registry for "possessory title" of the land in question.

First, do a search of the Land Registry "Index Map" to check if someone else has registered ownership of the "missing" bit of garden. It is unlikely, as you've been using it for so long and no one has ever complained that this land doesn't belong to you.

Next, you will have to swear a Statutory Declaration in which you will confirm how long you've been using the land, that no one has ever tried to prevent you using it, or claimed ownership of it or tried to charge you rent for using it.

A plan showing the extent of the land and its relationship with the rest of your property needs to be attached. You will have to swear the declaration before a different solicitor to the one who prepared it for you and the sworn Statutory Declaration must accompany your application to the Land Registry for possessory title. A fee will be payable to the Land Registry but your solicitor will advise you how much it is all going to cost.

If you do find that someone else has registered the land, you can still make a similar application for title, also involving a Statutory Declaration, but following a slightly different procedure.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors

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