escape-to-the-country

Piers Baylis, a lawyer in our Residential Property Team, asks if the tech revolution stimulated by this year’s lockdown will act as a catalyst for many to make an escape to the countryside.

A brief recap

The working environment has changed dramatically throughout this year with a move to remote or flexible working being the reality for many. Whilst the industrial revolution saw the mass movement of population into the cities, might the tech revolution have the opposite impact with this year’s lockdown acting as a catalyst for change?

It is too early to be certain, but I suspect many will be planning an escape to the countryside over the coming winter months. In the meantime, here is some timely guidance on what to consider from a legal perspective.

Boundaries

Establishing the boundaries of any property is essential. In rural areas, boundaries can be defined in many forms such as fencing (in “stockproof” condition or otherwise), rivers, hedges and if you are lucky, something obvious like, a wall. Sometimes boundaries are vague or are not defined at all, and so a good plan must be relied upon.

A good plan will allow you to identify the boundaries when on location, and when comparing with satellite mapping. Today, the legal title to a property in Scotland is most commonly identified by reference to a plan, however, in some older properties a verbal description is still the only way of identifying the property.

When viewing the property, consider walking the boundaries with the seller to help clarify any ambiguous areas and to ensure you both understand what is being sold. When you receive the plan check this against your recollection.

Access

For a residential property you are looking to establish clear pedestrian and vehicular access to and from the property from a public road. In urban areas most roads are adopted by the local authority, however, private access is much more prevalent in rural areas.

Take note when viewing the property if access is taken via an unmarked road or track. This suggests private access and you should enquire as to your right to use such access, together with any responsibilities for upkeep. Maintenance is not something to ignore, even if the access appears in good order at present. You can be granted access with no maintenance rights leading to difficulties when maintenance is due and the owner of the track is disagreeable, or worse, cannot be located.

Services

Basic services such as water and sewerage are expected with any property. In rural areas, however, you can sometimes find alternative ways of providing these essential services.

Private Water Supply

A private water supply can be considered desirable and can certainly cut down on your Council Tax bill. What you need to ensure is that the quality meets regulations and is considered safe to drink. Rights to the supply and access for maintenance of the pipe system are also crucial, together with information on any historical issues such as drought or neighbourhood disputes.

Septic Tank

Septic Tanks can often be found for rural properties not connected to the mains sewerage. You will want to establish rights for use and for maintenance. You should also discover the number of users, together with the cost of emptying, if required. Finally, you will want to see registration with The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, (SEPA).

Internet Access

Finally, internet access is an essential service if you plan on working from home. Check data coverage in the area, together with options such as installing fibre-optic internet. You do not want to find your home office is at the top of the closest hill, due to poor coverage.

We act for purchasers and sellers throughout Scotland, so if you are looking to make a move, get in touch early and we can plan your escape together.

Contact

Piers Baylis, Senior Solicitor E: pba@bto.co.uk T: 031 222 2939

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