Rural properties

While the basic process remains the same, country properties require additional searches and questions need to be raised. Lewes Smith have years of experience and will help you buy or sell your rural property.

Selling rural property

When selling, it is important to instruct your solicitor/conveyancer at the same time as you place the property on the market with agents. They will need to check the title and help the agents ensure that there is no misdescription of the property, its title and the extent of the property for sale. Your solicitor will provide a property information questionnaire for you to complete. This will form part of a package to go to the buyers solicitor when the contract is issued.

Any arrangements over emptying of septic tanks, cesspits, and water supplies should be provided plus copies of any planning permissions and building regulations and guarantees for alterations to the property. Copies of grazing licences or other documents involving arrangements over the land or with neighbours should be disclosed as well.

All of the information will form part of an information pack to accompany the contract which we can prepare or help your chosen agent prepare.

With rural property it is essential to consult us at an early stage

Buying rural property

When you are buying it is important to choose a solicitor who is familiar with country properties and if possible has local knowledge of the area. This is desirable but not essential. Solicitors in England and Wales can deal with properties in these countries but cannot act for properties in Scotland, Northern Ireland or the Channel Islands unless they have an associate office in that location.

Property law is different in Scotland, with the exchange of "missives" (equivalent to exchange of contracts) taking place much earlier. It helps to have a solicitor who is familiar with the Scottish system and can liaise with the Scottish lawyers.

Once you have selected a property to buy, terms are agreed with the seller and lawyers instructed it is important to check with your solicitor directly to ensure that the plan of the property is correct and the boundaries on the ground agree with the plan. Most lenders require a valuation for mortgage purposes. However, if you opt for the basic valuation - that is all it is - it is not a structural survey. It is sensible to arrange for a full structural survey and your solicitor will generally be happy to suggest a surveyor.

When your solicitor receives the contract package, he will go through this making amendments to the contract where he feels clauses are not reasonable or in your best interests. He will also send a list of additional questions regarding the property to the sellers solicitors. These usually relate to the title, covenants, restrictions affecting it. A local search is also made. This is a list of questions sent to the local authority, with a copy of the plan of the property.

Additional rural searches

There are standard additional questions which it is important to ask on country properties these include

  • pipelines affecting the land
  • footpaths and bridleways
  • countryside protection

Searches of other organisations may be needed as well, for example -

  • is there water on the land?  - questions regarding rivers, streams and ponds should be sent to the Environment Agency (questions regarding shoring the banks of the river and other plans which might involve a landowner in additional cost)
  • for some areas, where coal mining might take place or have taken place in the past, coal mining searches need to be made. This discloses information regarding past, present and future underground workings
  • in Cheshire, brine searches have to be done
  • in Cornwall, tin mining searches reveal underground workings

Properties in forest areas demand special treatment and enquiries need to be made of the forest custodians.

Most local searches will have limited information on drainage so additional water searches may need to be made with the local water authority to obtain details of the nearest public sewers.