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The issue of parking when buying property

“Rented Parking Available”, “Designated”, “Allocated”, “On Street”, “Parking for 4+ Cars”, “Residents Parking”, “Permit Parking”, “Ample Free Parking Nearby”, “Plus Visitor Parking”

This heading is made up of the various descriptions taken from estate agents’ websites to describe parking arrangements on properties for sale. Sometimes the same property is advertised by different estate agents using different descriptions. It is always worth doing a comparison as this may indicate a grey area.

As a conveyancer acting for a prospective buyer of a property, I only become involved in a transaction once an offer has been made and accepted. By the time I meet my client purchasers, they already have many preconceptions about the property they have agreed to buy and very often those conclusions are misplaced.

In my opinion, the various descriptions shown above are rather baffling. To understand why this is we must remind ourselves of the role of an estate agent in the sale process. His or her job is to secure the best price from a ready, willing and able purchaser best placed to buy quickly, whilst presenting the least hassle for their client; the seller.

Look again at the heading above, these terms can be cleverly ambiguous. As a prospective buyer it is important to remember that all property is sold as seen under the legal maxim, may the buyer beware. It is for this reason that buyers engage lawyers and surveyors, and these advisors provide reliable information and legal guidance.

From a legal perspective there are only two types of parking space:

  1. Those which are on the property i.e. where you own the land upon which you park; and
  2. Those which are on other people’s land (or sometimes on land owned by you in-common with your neighbours) for which an exclusive and “in perpetuity” right to park has been granted to you in your deeds.

Never assume anything

In both cases it is common to find restrictions on what the parking spaces can be used for. Commercial vehicles, boats and jetskis, caravans and lorries are often forbidden in residential developments. It is also common for restrictions to be placed on the number of vehicles which can be parked on a particular space. Don’t assume that a space big enough to squeeze two cars onto can actually be used in that way.

Parking spaces are also commonly subject to restrictions preventing them from being used by anyone who does not reside at the property. Don’t assume that a parking space can be rented out for extra income.

I regularly meet prospective purchasers who have assumed, that they are permitted to convert existing garden to create parking. It is important to remember that not every piece of land which can accommodate a car can become a parking space. Rules apply, for example:

  1. The land must be approved by the authorities for use as parking: there are various policies and guidelines which will dictate suitability for parking including whether or not it is safe to enter and exit with a car from a public road. This may be less likely if the property in question is listed for its heritage value.
  2. If the land in question is accessed via a private road or neighbouring property, it must have the benefit of a vehicular right of way (some gardens are only served by pedestrian access).
  3. The land must not be subject to restrictions preventing it from being used for parking, or subject to neighbour’s rights which will be prejudiced by that use.

The above may sound complicated, but you don’t need to worry. If you are thinking of buying a property where a material change is a prerequisite for you, such as the creation of further parking, pick up the phone and speak to your conveyancing law firm. They will quickly clarify the legal position or provide direction on what you would need to do to achieve that.

I have commonly seen property advertised with parking on adjacent private roads (and in one memorable case on a public road, although this was obviously quickly found to be a mistake). Unless you have parking rights granted to you in your deeds for this purpose, roads are generally subject to rights of way, meaning that if your car is in the way of or causes irritation or inconvenience to a neighbour, that neighbour could stop you from parking there.

In summary, as a buyer of a property you are best advised to check anything you are unsure of or sounds unlikely with your legal advisors before you proceed too far with the transaction.

Any other type of parking; be it Parish residents schemes, private rental arrangements, historic private arrangements with friendly neighbours or even a free public car park nearby cannot be relied upon. Do not be tempted to pay more for a property because it is advertised with such things.

Viberts has an experienced conveyancing team who will investigate all property deeds and identify any ambiguous or problematic clauses. When it comes to parking arrangements for property, if you’re not sure what the property advert means, ask your property lawyer who will give you the legal position and red flag any causes for concern. 

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