One of the benefits that may influence your decision to purchase a property is the fact that it has free parking on the street outside. If the property has no driveway, it would be extremely inconvenient not to be able to park outside, and lack of such amenities would make the property less desirable from a buyer’s perspective. Even if the property has a driveway, free parking means you can have additional cars parked up, whether these are family cars or visitors, without having to worry about parking fines. But what if you bought a property with free parking and within days, the Local Authority painted double yellow lines outside? This is what happened to one Times reader, who was shocked to discover that his free parking was revoked immediately after he moved in.
The reader wrote in to the Times explaining that he had used solicitors for his purchase who had performed the appropriate searches. When you use a solicitor to carry out the conveyancing work for you, they will recommend that a Local Authority Search is carried out. This looks at many matters affecting the property which will become binding on the purchaser but which would not be registered on the property’s title. If you buy with the aid of a mortgage, the lender will insist the search is performed.
The search covers a very wide range of issues – for example:
- Whether planning permission or building regulations approval has been granted for works carried out at the property.
- Whether any planning policies are in place that might affect future development.
- Whether there are any public rights of way over the land.
- Whether the road and footpaths next to the property are ‘adopted’ and therefore maintained ‘at public expense’.
These are just a few examples and the full set of enquiries is extensive. The solicitor making the search will receive a certificate with a schedule of the matters affecting the property. Crucially in respect of the parking issue, the search should also reveal any current and proposed traffic schemes that may affect the property such as current waiting/loading restrictions and proposed parking restrictions.
If a Local Authority decides that a road ought to be subject to parking restrictions, they cannot simply roll out the Striper and start painting yellow lines. They must first hold a consultation and then place a notice placed in the local newspaper. Copies of the proposals must be put up on the road or highway affected by the changes and notices or letters must be delivered to premises that are likely to be affected. If this results in objections, a public enquiry must be held. Consequently the issue should have been revealed by the Local Search.
In addition, most solicitors will send out form TA6 (a Property Information Form) or their own equivalent which specifically asks the seller:
Have any notices or correspondence been received or sent (e.g. from or to a neighbour, council or government department), or any negotiations or discussions take place, which affect the property or a property nearby?
If there were changes to the parking restrictions that affected the property you purchased, the seller would have received a notice and should have provided it or details of it in their replies.
If the Local Authority provided a certificate of search which neglected to include details of the scheme, unfortunately the restriction will still be enforceable. However, a buyer can claim compensation under Section 10(1) of the Local Land Charges Act 1975 for any loss that they have suffered. In previous cases, sums of over £100,000 in compensation have been awarded where buyers have paid more than they should for a property subject to an onerous restriction that was not included in the certificate of search.
An alternative course would be to seek compensation from the seller if they failed to disclose notices they had received of a proposed scheme.