Question: Our house is on a private road. The developer, who built our little estate and who owned the road, used to employ a clamping firm to deal with cars parked in the street by non-residents. Unfortunately, the developer has gone bankrupt and the road has passed to the Crown as something called "bona vacantia".
The clampers say they can’t carry on without instructions from the new owner of the road but we residents would like them to continue clamping. Would that be illegal?
Answer: Well, not "illegal", but probably unlawful. Without instructions from the owner of the road the clampers would be acting without "lawful authority".
However, this is a good opportunity for you and your neighbours to buy the road yourselves. If the developer was a company, you should get together and contact the Treasury Solicitor (the Crown’s lawyer, based in London) who administers bona vacantia (literally "goods without an owner").
The Treasury Solicitor will ask you to complete a questionnaire, will investigate whether the road can be sold and will take professional advice on value. If the developer was an individual, you must approach their "trustee in bankruptcy" who will now own the road.
Buy the road and form a management company and you will not only find that your houses become more saleable, but you can also issue lawful instructions to the clampers.
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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email email@example.com. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.
Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors www.ttuk.com.