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Buying homes in Private Estates

There are a number of attractions to buying a home on a private estate, such as privacy, exclusivity and the appearance of the area. These can be very welcoming. However, there are matters to be considered, from our experience.

We set out below some factors to consider:-

1. Are there rights of access and services over the estate roads to your property?

The estate roads are usually private roads. This means that you do not automatically have rights over the estate. An experienced property solicitor will check that you would have the necessary rights to access the property and to use the services of the property. If there are no such rights, then there is a risk access could be prevented.

2. Is the estate well managed and maintained?This can depend on the motivations of the owner of the

common areas on the estate, such as the roads and grounds. If the owner of the estate is a company of which residents are shareholders, it is more likely the company will actively maintain the estate. If the estate owner is not also an owner of one of the houses on the estate, but has a liability to maintain the communal areas, then the owner may be less proactive in managing the estate.

The best maintained estates tend to have a good level of funds in a reserve account, to cover major works like road resurfacing, and collect annual contributions from all the residents. This then reduces the risk of large one-off payments being required from residents to cover major work.

An experienced property solicitor will check to ensure that adequate arrangements are in place with regard to the management of the estate and the funding of its repair and maintenance.

3. Will you be required to become a member of a company that owns the estate?

Some estates require that any new owner replaces the previous owner as a member of the estate  owning company. This can bring benefits such as having an input into how the estate is maintained but may mean onerous obligations. For example, you could be required to become a company officer like a director. This can be a significant administrative burden involving the collection of the maintenance contributions from the owners of the other properties on the estate or filing returns with Companies House.

As a company member, if there was, for example, an accident on the estate road, the company could potentially be liable for any damage that arose. It is therefore important to ensure that public liability insurance is in place to protect against this risk.

4. Will there be any restrictions on structural or other works that you propose for your property?

It may be intended that the estate be preserved in a specific manner. With that in mind, obligations known as restrictive covenants may have been placed on the Land Registry title for the property restricting what work is permitted.

For example, it may be that you cannot extend the property without the estate owner’s consent. The owner may make it a condition of their consent that you make a financial contribution to the maintenance of the estate, perhaps due to damage to the roads on the estate caused by your heavy goods vehicles. The estate owner may impose other conditions or alternatively refuse consent.

5. Are significant development works planned on the private estate?

Key attractions in buying a house on a private estate are the privacy and the appearance of the area. However, this can be infringed by neighbouring owners developing their property, which results in your home being overlooked. Checks can be made to see whether planning consent has been obtained for work in the area which may impact on your property. Also, restrictive covenants could limit the ability of others on the estate to redevelop their property.

The above is only a summary of some of the points to consider when buying a home on a private estate. We would be happy to help you with your purchase. Please contact us and we can discuss your requirements.