The law on selling your land in the UK

Selling your land has the potential to be a stressful and confusing transaction.

Whilst most landowners rely on the direction of solicitors and conveyancers when it comes to selling land, it’s worth understanding the basic laws involved. But first…

Is the land yours to sell?

It might seem obvious, but before you start the process to sell your land, confirm it’s yours to sell.

To check you are the freeholder, visit Land Registry who hold all recorded land-holding details in the UK.

If your land isn’t registered, you can do it yourself or get a solicitor or conveyancer to do it for you. You’ll find more information right here.

How do you sell your land?

Depending on your circumstances, you might choose to sell your land privately or by instructing an agent.

If you do appoint a third party to sell your land, take the time to undergo any background checks and always read the terms and conditions before signing anything.

Despite common belief, you can sell your land without planning permission, though it’s unlikely to fetch a higher selling price. We talk more about selling your land here.

What’s the law for selling your land?

As with all enforced law in the UK, the sale of your land must be stipulated in writing with clearly detailed terms for both parties.

Section 2 of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989 states: “A contract for the sale or other disposition of an interest in land can only be made in writing and only be incorporating all the terms which the parties have expressly agreed in one document, or where contracts are exchanged, in each.”

The Act then goes on to clarify: “the terms may be incorporated in a document either by being set out in it or by reference to some other document. The document incorporating the terms or, where contracts are exchanged, one of the documents incorporating them (but not necessarily the same one) must be signed by or on behalf of each party to the contract.”

The contract referred to in the Act will be prepared by your conveyancer or solicitor. And once signed by both parties, the following legalities are put in place:

  • The seller becomes trustee for purchaser (pending completion)
  • The purchaser owns beneficial interest in the land
  • The purchaser may protect interest in land by registering their interest.

As you’ll know, contracts will vary from one seller to the next, so always take your time to check every detail – and never sign anything you don’t fully understand.

Title deeds to sell your land

Title deeds is the chain of paperwork showing ownership of your land. They include conveyances, contracts for sales, wills, mortgages and leases.

If you don’t have your deeds, they’re likely to be with the solicitor who acted for you when you purchased or inherited the land, or possibly with your mortgage company (if you have a mortgage).

If your land is registered with HM Land Registry, you may not need any deeds to continue with the sale. However, for your peace of mind, it’s always a good idea to retrieve any original records.

Selling land with a restrictive covenant

Selling your land with restrictive covenants means there are legal restrictions on the property’s title that prevents or limits construction.

Typical covenants may include limiting the use of the land, restricting the number of buildings to be erected, restricting the height of the buildings or preventing trades to be carried out.

If you’re selling your land to a developer, it’s likely the restricted covenants will incur a lower offer or, in worst case, prohibit a possible sale from taking place.

What happens once your sale is completed?

Should your sale complete, the purchaser must apply to HM Land Registry to change the registered owner.

It’s often the case a solicitor will act on behalf of the purchaser to begin the registration transfer as part of the purchase.

What’s a Section 106 agreement?

Otherwise known as planning obligations, a Section 106 Agreement outlines the concessions and contributions a developer will take to reduce impact on the community.

The viability of the agreement will cover any relevant issue, which might include:

  • The developer will transfer an area of land to Local Planning Authority (LPA) and agree to cover maintenance costs
  • LPA may restrict certain types of operations or developments to take place on the land
  • The developer will plant a predetermined amount of trees to help offset carbon footprint
  • The developer will make financial contributions from profits towards the provision of local amenities.

Section 106 agreement will stipulate varied terms depending on the proposed development.

Here are several examples of how Blackthorn Homes have met provisions to improve local amenities close to previous developments.

If you have any questions about selling your land or want to discuss the options available to you, feel free to get in touch for free advice.

Responsive site designed and developed by