Manorial Rights Hon. Solicitor's response

A large number of land owners across the Fylde coast have received a B133 Notice from Land Registry recently. This effectively puts land owners on notice that the owner of manorial rights reserved over the various properties and land has made an application to protect such rights by way of a Unilateral Notice registered on the land owners title.

Below we set out the background to these notices and what should be done in order to deal with them.

Background:-

The Land Registry publish a number of Practice Guides which give a background to particular situations and the law surrounding them. In respect of the above, Practice Guide 25 is the reference point.

If you own a piece of land or a property which is registered with Land Registry, you can see what you own and what burdens your property may be subject to from viewing a copy of your registered title which is held by Land Registry. However, before the Land Registration Act 2002, there were some matters that could affect (bind) your property, but were very difficult to find out about as they were not visible on the register. We refer to these matters as ‘overriding interests’ and this includes manorial rights and chancel repairs.
Although these are often described as ‘relics from past times’, owners of these rights or interests often have a duty or responsibility to protect them. The 2002 Act says these rights could be lost if they are not protected by registration before the October deadline in 2013.
Whether or not you own the mines and minerals under your property or are subject to these liabilities depends on the history of the land in question. For example, it was very common for large landowners to retain ownership of the mines and minerals when they sold the land. Examination of the old deeds which can sometimes be hundreds of years old, may determine the position.
Mines and minerals
In many parts of England and Wales it is fairly common that one person will own the surface of the land but someone else will own the land below the surface. This land below the surface is usually called ‘mines and minerals’. There are varying types of rights and ownership relating to mines and minerals. These can range from owning the mines and minerals outright and being able to take them away, whether or not the owner of the surface agrees, to having some rights to them that can be exercised with the agreement of the surface owner. Where someone owns the land comprising the mines and minerals below your property they will continue to own it indefinitely. They can apply to register it if they wish but they do not have to and this will not affect their ownership.
Chancel repairs
A chancel repair liability is the requirement for an owner of land to pay for the repair of the chancel (the part of the church containing the altar and the choir) of an Anglican parish church. This mainly stems from the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII.
Where previously the local rector owned land in the parish, he was responsible for repairing the chancel of the church out of the money the land produced. Monasteries often acquired this land together with the responsibility for paying for the repair of the chancel. When Henry Vlll sold the monasteries’ land, the liability to pay for the repair of the chancel remained with the land sold.
Various diocesan board websites provide a history of chancel repair liabilities. If you have received a Land Registry notice about chancel repairs, it will be because a parochial church council (PCC) in England, or the Representative Body of the Church in Wales, claims to have the right to collect this money to pay for the repair of the chancel of the church and has applied for the registration of a notice to that effect on your registered title.
Manorial rights
These are rights that were retained by the lord of the manor when the land became freehold. These can include rights relating to mines and minerals. Other examples are rights to hunt, shoot or fish.
In respect of the recent notices these would appear to relate to Manorial rights. It may be that the Manorial rights in question relate mainly to mines and minerals given the recent Fracking work that has been undertaken in the local area but we are not able to comment further on this as we do not at this stage have any further documentation from the applicant. Strange as though it may seem, it may not have been necessary for evidence to have been presented by the applicant in order to register these rights under the Notice.

As a land owner you can now submit a form UN4 to cancel the said notice. This form can be downloaded from the Land Registry web site www.landregistry.gov.uk . The applicant/beneficiary of the Manorial rights will then be informed of your intention to cancel the notice and he will then have to provide a statement of the grounds on which his claim is based, possibly supported by documentary evidence. If the documents then supplied fail to convince you that the rights should stand and the dispute cannot be resolved by negotiation then it will be referred to the Land Registration division of the Property Chamber, First-tier Tribunal. The Tribunel, which is independent of Land Registry will either then make a decision or will refer the parties to court.

We understand that these notices affect a large number of properties across the Fylde coast and indeed across the UK. Initially we would suggest the UN4 form is completed and returned to Land Registry immediately and then you await hearing from Land Registry should the applicant furnish them with any further statement/evidence they may wish to put forward if the application is to continue. Once further information and evidence is to hand your position can then be re-evaluated based on the information provided at that time by the applicant. Should invididuals then wish to obtain legal advice on their own position moving forward including any specific rights revealed by ancinet documents in favour of the Lord of the Manor or specific rights asserted by the Lord of the Manor which they may wish to challenge we are happy to deal with this on the usual terms of a private client retainer.


Note:

If your property has an unregistered title (ie is not registered at Land Registry, usually due it not having changed hands for a significant period of time) then Land Registry will not be able to put a Unilateral Notice on your property. They can however be requested to put a Caution Against First Registration against the land in question and this would then need to be dealt with at the time the property was sold, transferred etc.

The Lord of the Manor may also consider noting his rights over the land with the Land Charges Department although Manorial Rights do not appear to sit within the usual framework that is capable of registration via the Land Charges Act.

The only definate way to see if either of the above have been carried out against your unregistered property is to have a Search of the Index Map carried out at the same time as doing a Land Charges Search against the property and the current owner.

You may visit LR offices yourself in order to carry this out providing you have a plan of the land in question and details of the current owners and their period of ownership. The usual LR fees for dealing with these types of applications are fairly minimal.


If a Caution Against First Registration has indeed been lodged then LR form CCT should be completed in order for it to be cancelled and this would then put the Lord of Manor to evidence proof of his entitlement prior to any further application being made. If a Land Charges entry has been made then an appropriate application to the Land Charges Department would need to be made, usually via form K11.




Matthew Scott
Solicitor
Coupe Bradbury Solicitors

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