House Purchases: Don’t Get Caught Out by the Details

Every year, countless people end up in property disputes because they assumed that house purchases are always straightforward and are all pretty similar. If you believe that purchases are a routine matter, or that estate agents’ details are the whole story, it’s probably a logical next step to find the cheapest provider for your conveyancing. But there are risks.

Purchases are frequently far from straightforward. There can be details buried in deeds and characteristics of the property that can lead to problems unless you have an appropriate professional with a keen eye for detail looking after your interests.

Rights of Way

You might assume that once you own the title to a property nobody can come onto your land without permission. In fact, there may be easements in place that give a neighbour the right to use your land for a specific purpose (such as maintaining a part of their property on your boundary). You might also need similar access to somebody else’s property.

There may also be rights of way over your property – either public or restricted to neighbouring properties. Some of these can be ancient and, even if they are not currently used, can still be in force and could affect the value of your home.

Where electricity or telecoms infrastructure passes over your property there should be a wayleave agreement in place. The phone or electricity provider will pay you a fee in return for access to make repairs. Depending on the history of the land these are sometimes not in place and need to be resolved.

Restrictive covenants are another area where there may be legal curbs on what you can do with your property (such as running a business or creating a nuisance).


Boundary disputes can often become acrimonious and expensive. They arise when there is ambiguity about the exact positioning of a boundary on the deeds or, sometimes, conflicting information on the deeds of adjoining properties. The deeds should also specify which boundaries you will be responsible for maintaining, but often they don’t make this clear. Asking the right questions before you sign the contract can save a lot of problems later.

Alterations and extensions made to the property also need to be examined carefully. As the new owner, you may be liable for correcting (or sometimes demolishing) works that were carried out without obtaining the required building regulations or planning consents. Particular caution is needed with listed buildings and conservation areas.

Leasehold properties bring an additional element of risk. Ground rents and restrictions on what leaseholders are able to do with their properties can lead to nasty shocks for leasehold purchasers who didn’t examine the detail.

Our experienced Property Team has encountered just about every type of complication there could be with a house purchase. There’s probably nothing that would surprise us. And our mission is to make certain there’s nothing to surprise you either. Contact us today on 01934 623 501 or click here to see how we can help.

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