LAND LAW HELP examWatch
Any information on easements will be so helpful, with registered land.
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Seen question for an exam next month. Really stuck. Any ideas please...
1) Brian Belvon (BB) owned Belvon Estate, which is registered land. It comprises a large mansion (the Mansion), a small cottage (the Cottage), and the surrounding garden ground.In 2016, title to Belvon Estate was transferred to Samuel Swift (SS) by a deed in his favour. SS was duly registered as the proprietor of Belvon Estate. In March 2017, SS advertised to sell the property. In April 2017, Paul Paton (PP) visited the property a few times before concluding a contract to purchase it from SS. The sale was completed on 3rd May 2017. PP paid the price of £900,000 to SS, received the deed of conveyance from SS, and moved in to the Mansion on that day. PP was duly registered as the proprietor on 10th May 2017. SS was seen boarding a flight to Aruba around that time, unlikely to return to the UK again.
2) Tina Thomson (TT) had been living in the Cottage since 2012. She was on extended holiday in the Caribbean from March to May in 2017. When PP visited Belvon Estate, SS said that the Cottage was only used when his niece visited him during her summer break from university. PP and his instructed surveyor were let into the Cottage. They discovered some photographs and other personal belongings of TT, which SS claimed to have been left by his niece from an earlier visit. However, what SS did not reveal to PP was the fact that TT had a lease granted by BB in 2012 for ten years. In addition, TT was also granted the option to purchase Belvon Estate for £600,000 (then market value of the property in 2012 after the financial crisis) within ten years. TT has now returned from her holiday. She wants to go back to live in the Cottage as a tenant, and may even consider exercising the option to purchase.
3) On 15 May 2017, Eric Entwa (EE), a farmer from neighbouring land, arrived at Belvon Estate driving a tractor. He claimed to have a right of way over Belvon Estate. BB granted this by deed in 2008. EE explained that it was necessary because part of his farm was difficult for tractors to access otherwise, although he only needed access to that part very sparingly. He last used this right in 2015 when BB allowed him to drive the tractor over the ground to get to the other side. PP furiously refused it. EE is now threatening legal action.
4) Just when PP thought matters could not get any worse, on 1 June 2017 he was visited by BB. BB claimed that he had never sold Belvon Estate. It turned out that SS apparently forged the deed of conveyance from BB to himself in 2016. BB had been posted abroad “at a classified location” by his employer for more than a year by then and could not return due to the nature of his work. SS, a “friend” of BB, must have noticed this and decided to take advantage of his prolonged absence. BB has just finished his work and returned to this country. He wants Belvon Estate back.
Advise PP, as to whether TT, EE and BB will be successful in enforcing their claims against him.
The 10 year legal (I assume) lease is a registrable estate and will not be binding if it has not been registered as such. If it has (you are not told) then it's binding. If not; it is equitable and is then dealt with in the same way as the option to purchase.
The option to purchase should have been protected by an entry on the register (i.e. it is a minor interest). If it has been, then it's binding. If not, it is a proprietary right which can override the register under LRA 2002 schedule 3, para 2. Issues to explore are: was TT in occupation? Applying the relevant cases (you will probably have been provided with some key cases as part of your course. If not, look them up - they will be easy to find e.g. Boland, and more recent cases - see Bogusz, B. ‘Defining the scope of actual occupation under the Land Registration Act 2002: Some recent judicial clarification’ (2011) Conveyancer and Property Lawyer 268-284.)
When you have done this you will conclude that, despite her temporary absence, TT was in occupation. The next issue is whether her occupation was obvious on a reasonably careful inspection of the land? If no - then the option (and lease, if not registered) overrides the register and is binding. You need to use the facts to argue this point.
EE has an expressly granted legal easement which has to be completed by registration under LRA 2002, s.27(2)(d). If it hasn't then perhaps you could consider if it is a legal easement acquired by necessity in which case it may be overriding under schedule 3, para 3. However, note the exception where the easement has not been exercised in the previous 12 months and the purchaser had no actual knowledge of it at the time of purchase.
As the question is for an assessment I can only give you some ideas (which is what you asked for) so the above is not a 'complete' or suggested answer. However, hopefully, it has set you on the right track.
Look at your seminar notes and re-read the chapters in your textbook on registered title. You have probably considered all these points in class.
Amanda Grant a.k.a. Bitesizlaw (private tutor Leicester)
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