How to buy land near your property

If there is unused land near or adjacent to your property, you might want to purchase it. We take a look at how to identify who owns it so that you can make them an offer to buy.

Where a piece of land adjoins a property and is not used, it is often the case that the property owners would like to buy it so that they can manage it and also have the use of it, for example as a larger garden or to add a garage. It can also prevent an area becoming unkempt if no-one is looking after it.

The first step in acquiring a piece of adjoining land is to find out who owns it. The Land Registry has records of all of the land and property that has been registered, which amounts to around 80% of property in England and Wales.

You can carry out a search of the Property Register and, if the property is registered, you will be able to obtain a plan showing the boundaries of the land as well as a copy of the title showing who owns it so that you can approach them.

Unregistered land

Registration of property is now compulsory when it changes hands, however, if property has not changed hands for a long time, then it could still be unregistered.

If the land is not registered, it will be harder to find out whom it belongs to. The Land Registry may have records and if there is no specific address you can use their aerial land locator to identify it and check whether or not it is registered.

You can also try the following to see if you can identify the owner:

  • Contact the neighbours and owners of adjoining land to see if they know who the owner is;
  • Ask local people, to include shop owners, publicans or post office staff if they have knowledge of who might own it;
  • If there is a church nearby, ask the church if they own it. Much church land is unregistered as it will not have changed hands for many years;
  • Look at the title to neighbouring land to see if any reference is made to adjoining land. If so, you may be able to trace the owner by looking at how the ownership of the neighbouring land has been passed on;
  • Search local country records by asking your local authority what information they hold;
  • Check local authority planning records to see if any planning applications have been made in respect of the land
  • Look at the local electoral roll

Taking possession of land

There is a way to claim unused land if you have been in possession of it for twelve years, or ten years for registered land. It is recommended that you speak to an expert property lawyer before doing this to avoid the risk of an action for trespass.

Taking adverse possession requires someone to have dealt with the land in the way that an owner-occupier would be expected to. This could include fencing the land and maintaining it.

After someone has been in possession for the required period of time, there is still a lengthy process to go through before any type of legal title can be obtained.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert property lawyers, ring us on 0345 241 3100 or email us at

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