Buying a House Without Clear Title

How to resolve property title issues

There are a variety of issues that can affect the title to a property and our specialists regularly advise clients on the best way to proceed using a pragmatic approach.

One of the main issues we see is related to boundaries, these may be legal (with title deeds) or physical (a fence or wall). Our specialists will review the relevant documentation to help you identify unclear boundaries. Should there be any irregularities or if a dispute arises, we have highly experienced lawyers who will help you to find a solution.

The land may benefit from easements (or may be subject to easements). An easement is a right over someone else’s land for a specified purpose. It is attached to a piece of land in order to protect it or benefit it. It could relate to:

  • Rights of way (which allow access across land by someone who does not own the land, often either the general public or a neighbour)
  • Rights of light (which protect light received through windows in existing buildings)
  • Rights to support or protection
  • Rights for passage of water (for example, drainage or a fresh water supply) and other services

Our specialists will help you to establish whether an easement affects, or benefits, land that you own or are intending to acquire. Rights of light can be a particular problem with regards redevelopments and should be considered if planning an extension.

If you currently have rights over another property, you may decide to release them. You should take legal advice before finalising matters so you are aware of the implications of relinquishing your rights and so that your best interests are fully considered.  At Hart Brown, we are experienced at assisting clients with releasing their own rights over a property when requested.

Other matters that may burden, or benefit, land include restrictive covenants. A restrictive covenant is a condition that restricts, limits, prohibits or prevents the actions of a landowner. Ultimately, they restrict how land can be used. For example, a restriction could prohibit the use of the property for business purposes, or it may limit development or alteration of the property. If you are buying a property, our solicitors will help you to understand the effect of any restrictive covenants which may affect your decision to purchase the property. We also have a specialist property disputes team who can help you to resolve any disputes that may arise regarding restrictive covenants.

To discuss this or any other property related matter, please call or email us today.

Who to contact

Lawrence Stolworthy- Partner, Head of Residential Property

Lawrence Stolworthy

Partner, Head of Residential Property

Lawrence Stolworthy- Partner, Head of Residential Property

Partner, Head of Residential Property

Lawrence Stolworthy

Lawrence is a Partner based in the Guildford office, and he is also Head of the Residential Property team at Hart Brown LLP.

Lawrence qualified as a solicitor in 2001 and has extensive experience in a broad range of residential property work, including very high value transactional work and acquisitions for international investor clients. He also has considerable experience in dealing with property work originating from, or ancillary to, private client matters and family/matrimonial matters.

He is committed to providing a proactive, friendly and positive approach and he strives to communicate clearly and effectively with all those involved in the transactions he deals with in order to achieve the best outcome for his clients. He endeavours to find pragmatic and commercially viable solutions to problems wherever possible.

    Debbie Beswick Partner, Residential Property

    Debbie Beswick

    Partner, Residential Property

    Debbie Beswick Partner, Residential Property

    Partner, Residential Property

    Debbie Beswick

    Debbie, who is a Partner, specialises in residential property. After joining Hart Brown in 1984 she quickly progressed through the ranks qualifying as a Legal Executive in 1996. She was admitted to the Fellowship in 1997. Debbie is well known in the Godalming area and receives high praise both from clients and agents who come back to her time and time again.

    Her most memorable case was the purchase of a property for clients who were looking for a quick turnaround. It was a mere 3 working days from instructions to exchange of contracts.

    Debbie often receives excellent feedback from her clients, here are just a few of their statements:

    "This is the second time we've used Debbie at Hart Brown, and yet again she has given us fantastic service. Shall certainly be using you again."

    "It's a quick, efficient and friendly service - just right for the somewhat fraught process of buying and selling property."

    "We had our smoothest sale ever thanks to Debbie Beswick."

    "Second time we've used you, second time we've been impressed."

      Emma Moore-Residential Property, Partner

      Emma Moore

      Partner, Residential Property

      Emma Moore-Residential Property, Partner

      Partner, Residential Property

      Emma Moore

      Emma is a Partner in the residential property department at our Cobham office. She has over 25 years' experience in helping clients move house as smoothly as possible.

      Emma qualified as a solicitor in 1998 after studying for an LLB (Hons) Law Degree.

      Her specialism within residential property involves dealing with a wide range of sales and purchase of houses and flats, ranging from first time buyers to high net worth properties.

      Emma is a proactive member of the team, moving transactions forward as quickly as possible. She strives to find solutions to a range of problems that arise, ensuring her clients achieve their desired goals.

      An example of feedback received from clients:

      "Thank you for all your help with this. It's a pleasure to work with you. You are responsive, action oriented and straight forward - all behaviours which I value!"

        Jeremy Jupp- Partner, Residential Property

        Jeremy Jupp

        Partner, Residential Property

        Jeremy Jupp- Partner, Residential Property

        Partner, Residential Property

        Jeremy Jupp

        Jeremy has extensive knowledge in Residential Property. He qualified in 1992 as has worked for the last 25 years in various locations across Surrey, including Guildford, Godalming, Woking and now Cranleigh.

        He is committed to providing a proactive, friendly and positive approach, with nearly 30 years’ experience as a residential property specialist. Jeremy strives to communicate clearly and effectively with all those involved in transactions he deals with, in order to achieve the best outcome for his clients. He endeavours to find pragmatic solutions to problems wherever possible.

        Jeremy believes in building up a strong relationship with his clients in order to understand their aims and needs, and work with them to achieve these so far as possible.

        Memorable cases Jeremy has worked on include completing a purchase within a week from instruction where his client was given a great incentive on a new build property if he completed that quickly.

        Another involved the sale of a property where a Local Authority had acquired a strip of land along the frontage in the 1960s for potential road widening. They had granted a license over the land in exchange. The road widening never took place and the scheme had been abandoned, however, the buyers’ solicitors were not happy with the license arrangement that remained in place. Jeremy drafted a conditional contract clause which gave his client 9 months to resolve the issue with the Local Authority and to pay any premium agreed out of the exchange deposit. After lengthy negotiations with the Local Authority which involved taking Counsel’s Opinion in relation to the status of the license, an agreement was reached with the Local Authority just in time to enable him to give notice to the buyers’ solicitors to complete the sale.

          Peter Howe- Associate, Residential Property

          Peter Howe

          Senior Associate, Residential Property

          Peter Howe- Associate, Residential Property

          Senior Associate, Residential Property

          Peter Howe

          Peter’s specialism is residential property.

          He qualified as a Solicitor in 1991 and worked for a number of firms as a locum and then full time before joining Hart Brown in 2000. His experience as a locum he says gave him a good insight into the kind of firm that he wanted to settle down in. “It is amazing how different firms are in terms of the service they offer their clients” says Peter.

          Peter receives excellent feedback from his clients:

          "We would like to thank you very much for acting for us in this matter...we have been impressed with your timely and straightforward handling of the various stages of the process and your effective dealing with any issues arising. Once again thank you very much – it has been a pleasure doing business with you."

          "I found all my dealings with Peter Howe very useful, he is very down to earth and explained and answered all my queries very clearly, which took away a lot of the stress. Thank you."

            Irene Singh- Associate, Residential Property

            Irene Singh

            Senior Associate, Residential Property

            Irene Singh- Associate, Residential Property

            Senior Associate, Residential Property

            Irene Singh

            Irene joined us here at Hart Brown in 2021 as a Senior Associate in our Woking Office and specialises in residential property.

            Irene has an LLB (Hons) in Law and qualified as a Solicitor in 1992. She started her career in family and childcare work and following almost 10 years living abroad in Tokyo, Singapore and the USA she returned to work as a Solicitor in Surrey as a Locum Solicitor with long lasting appointments. Irene then worked for the past 7 years in a Surrey and Hampshire based firm and was promoted to Head of the Residential Property department.

            Over the years Irene has dealt with all types of clients and properties, from first-time buyers starting out on the property ladder to people downsizing from larger properties and moving to assisted living accommodation and everything in-between.

            Irene takes a lot of pride in clients returning to her for repeat business and she likes to build relationships with clients and local estate agents to ensure good and effective communication throughout each transaction. Irene’s careful but pragmatic approach makes the house moving process as stress-free as possible.

              Nitasha Thapar- Senior Solicitor, Residential Property

              Nitasha Thapar

              Associate, Residential Property

              Nitasha Thapar- Senior Solicitor, Residential Property

              Associate, Residential Property

              Nitasha Thapar

              Nitasha is an Associate and holder of an LLB (Hons.), with over 15 years’ experience dealing with a broad range of legal matters. She has been a Solicitor for over 10 years, having qualified in 2011 and she specializes in Residential Conveyancing.

              Nitasha has widespread knowledge of sales and purchases of freehold and leasehold properties, buy to let investment properties, transfers of equity, re-mortgages, lease extensions, right to buy schemes, new build purchases, auction purchases and equity release transactions.

              Nitasha’s clientele ranges from first time buyers, property investors, corporate and individual clients from the UK and abroad, together with high net worth individuals.

              Nitasha fully understands how stressful moving home can be, so she prides herself on providing a personal level of service with effective communication throughout the transaction in order to make each client's experience a positive one.

                Lewis Myatt- Solicitor Leasehold Enfranchisement

                Lewis Myatt

                Associate, Leasehold Enfranchisement

                Lewis Myatt- Solicitor Leasehold Enfranchisement

                Associate, Leasehold Enfranchisement

                Lewis Myatt

                Lewis started his legal career in practices on the outskirts of London and Surrey, gaining a good grounding across a wide geographical area in both contentious and non-contentious property matters.

                Over the last 3 years he has specialised in leasehold and freehold enfranchisement dealings, applying his previous contentious and transactional experience to a niche area of property law that is replete with pitfalls.

                Lewis is happy to act for Landlords or Tenants and he has experience in dealing with large collectives of lessees seeking to enfranchise. He is also happy to act for businesses with residential property investments and individuals seeking to protect the value of their home. He can also give good advice in seeking the right valuation advice from the right surveyor when preparing for, or responding to, enfranchisement claims.

                Lewis started his studies with a degree in Classics from the University of Manchester before studying for his GDL and LPC. In his spare time, Lewis’ interests include cricket, history and cosmology. He also loves the outdoors and is happy to go on a 10 mile hike through driving rain.

                  Rosie Taylor

                  Associate, Residential Property

                  Associate, Residential Property

                  Rosie Taylor

                  Rosie specialises in residential property, with experience acting for individuals in all aspects of conveyancing including freehold and leasehold sales, purchases, re-mortgages, transfers of equity, matrimonial transfers, equity release and shared ownership.

                  Rosie qualified as a solicitor in 2004, initially practising in family law for 3 years and has specialised in residential property since 2007.

                  Rosie has a 2:1 BMus (Hons) music degree from The University of Sheffield but went onto obtain commendations for both the PgDL and LPC from the College of Law, Guildford after deciding to peruse a career in law.

                  Outside of work, Rosie enjoys running and has completed numerous trail and road running events including 2 marathons.

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