Investigating Title: Rights and Restrictions

The article below follows on from our series of seminars for Junior Land Buyers.

Investigating a property’s title is vital for a land buyer. Areas of land forming part of a proposed development may be subject to a number of third party rights, covenants or restrictions on use. These could prevent you purchasing a site or there might be items which you would need to take into account in planning your development.  

When a property is registered at the Land Registry, the majority of these interests are recorded within the title documents. When checking for rights and restrictions on title, the following are some of the key items to look out for on the title:

Rights Benefitting

The property may benefit from certain rights but it will depend on what basis these were granted as to whether you can rely on them for your development. Where you are intensifying the right you should check with your legal advisers as to whether you would still be able to rely on them.

Rights Burdening

The property may be subject to rights in favour of third parties. If these are for service apparatus, sometimes the right will include lift and shift provisions enabling you to alter the location of the apparatus. If there are no lift and shift rights, you will need to ensure your development does not interfere with the apparatus.

If your development will interfere with the rights and you can not alter the location of them then you should speak to your legal advisers before approaching the person who benefits from the rights. Once you have spoken to the person benefitting from the rights you may not be able to obtain defective title indemnity insurance.

Restrictive Covenants

These restrict the use of the land. The way in which the covenants restrict the use will depend on the wording of the covenant itself. It is important to be aware that a restrictive covenant preventing you from causing a nuisance to your neighbours could be breached in undertaking development works.


The title may contain restrictions on title preventing the property being disposed of without the consent of a third party. You would need to ensure that you were able to register your purchase and deal with any onward disposals. Normally you would be looking for these to be removed on completion of your purchase.  


The property may be subject to financial charges. You would want these removed on completion of your purchase to ensure you do not take on any financial liability under them and are also able to sell your property.

Option Agreements and Promotion Agreements

There may be Option or Promotion Agreements noted against the title. Ordinarily these would be protected by a unilateral notice or restriction on title. This gives you an indication that another party may have the ability to buy the land or control the sale of it. It is best to find this out early on before too much money has been spent on looking at a site.

For more information on the article above please contact Hannah McGown.

Ashfords run a series of seminars for anyone involved in the world of real estate development who would like to learn more about the legal process behind the deals. The seminars are led and organised by our team of residential development solicitors, providing an opportunity to share knowledge and build lasting connections in an informal and friendly environment. Here are a list of future seminars for Junior Land Buyers, please let us know if you would like to receive notification of these events

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