In the last two years there has been a stronger than ever interest in buying residences in the countryside. However, there are some issues which have special significance for such properties, which any purchaser should consider.
Rights of way
One of the attractions of a rural residence is that it may be “off the beaten track” and down a picturesque lane or drive. Unfortunately, the access to the property may not necessarily be the subject of adequate rights of way. This is always something that the buyer’s solicitor should check, and there have been extreme cases of newly built or converted properties in rural locations which turned out to be land-locked.
Drains and other services
Many properties in a countryside setting are not connected to the main sewers and will instead rely on a septic tank or cesspit, a facility which might be shared with neighbouring properties. The arrangements concerning the use and maintenance of such systems need to be understood. Where a rural property has been developed into multiple dwellings then the existing system may not meet regulatory requirements.
Sometimes electricity supplies are subject to wayleave agreements affecting the property.
Footpaths and other rights
The purchaser’s solicitor will carry out a local authority search which will reveal whether the property is affected by any public footpaths.
If the property comes with a large area of amenity land then the buyer will also need to consider whether there are any sporting rights, and also whether part of the property is designated as a Village Green under the Commons Registration Act.
A property may be considered particularly attractive because it is old, well-preserved, and full of unique features. These attributes make it more likely that the property will be a Listed Building. The buyer’s solicitor will establish whether or not this is the case, and if it is then whether any works have been carried out which might have required not only planning consent but also listed building consent. A purchaser will need to consider whether any changes they want to make will require permission.
A buyer might be attracted to a property because of the open views or tranquil location, and assume that nothing will change. Unfortunately, there is always the possibility that an application will be made to change the use of adjoining land. A buyer concerned about this should ask their solicitor to carry out additional searches, these should at least establish whether there are any proposals in the pipeline or if the Local Plan admits the possibility of development in the future.