Buying property and land? Look at the deeds. Then look at them again.


A very story about an easement, a traction engine and 12 newly-built houses.

Many years ago, a friend of mine was contacted by a developer. The developer had bought a piece of land next to my friend’s house, which had been a farmhouse. The piece of land had an easement clause on it, which the developer hadn’t spotted. The easement stated that my friend could drive a traction engine across the developer’s land whenever he wished. The developer had just built 12 houses on the land.

What is an easement?

An easement is a right that allows one party (the easement-holder) to use another party’s land for a particular purpose. The most common form of easements are those for access which permits passage through another’s land to reach another location.

A very fair solution

Whilst the temptation for my friend to hire a traction engine was quite high just for the comedic value, common sense broke out. The developer admitted his mistake to my friend. My friend was very fair. He said that he did not need the easement, and in fact it would be difficult to use, given the work he’d done on his own garden. He was willing to give up the easement, if the developer was willing to pay for all legal expenses.

A deed of release was completed and the easement right removed from my friend’s and the developer’s title documents at the Land Registry.

This is an example of people working together to rectify a problem. Many people do not act in such a fair-minded way. My friend could have requested a substantial payment in return for releasing the easement.

The moral of the story?

Check deeds thoroughly, check your neighbour’s deeds and use a good conveyancer to complete comprehensive searches, before your grand plans start to take shape.

For advice on Commercial Property, contact Thomas Connell on 01756 692876 or

On Residential Property, contact Declan Hayes on 01756 692888 or

Or if you have a problem contact our Property Litigation specialist, Christopher Cooper on 01535 613678 or

5 February 2024

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Useful links

Land Registry