When someone must cross a piece of someone else’s land to access their own, the land crossed is known as a ‘ransom strip’, because the price which must be paid for the right to cross the land is often heavy.
In a recent case, two neighbours were in dispute over a piece of land which ran along the front of one of their properties but which was the means of access from the highway to the other neighbour’s property. The title to the land was unregistered. The family whose property was accessed via the land applied to the Land Registry to register the title to the land in their name and the neighbour opposed the application.
Both properties had been conveyed many years previously under a single conveyance. The strip of land was included in that conveyance, but was mistakenly not included in the filed plan when the land conveyed was registered at the Land Registry.
In court, the ‘general boundaries rule’ was applied. This means that a filed plan is indicative only, so when the conveyance was entered into, the ransom strip land was included in that conveyance, even though the filed plan failed to show it.
On that basis, the piece of land belonged to the owners of the property adjacent to it. Their neighbours had only the right of access over it.
Says Jeff Creek, Head of Property at DFA Law, “Despite most residential land now being registered, disputes over boundaries and rights over land are surprisingly common. We can advise you if you have problems over property rights.”