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Author Topic: Using somebody else's land  (Read 1056 times)


  • Joined Oct 2020
Using somebody else's land
« on: October 11, 2020, 10:20:21 am »
Hi Everyone. 
I'm new to this forum so apologies if I'm asking this question in the wrong section.  My wife and I are considering buying a house with 20 acres of wooded valley.  The land is split about 35 wood and 65 pasture.  I have absolutely no experience owning anything more than a large garden but the property fits our requirements very well, so despite being out of our depth we are considering buying it. 

At present a neighbouring farmer uses the pasture to make hay and graze sheep.  No money changes hands either way and the farmer does no boundary maintenance.  This remains the responsibility of the current owner.  I don't know if a formal agreement exists the two. 

My question is firstly does this sound like a fair deal on all sides? And secondly could anyone advise about any areas we might need to get ironed out between us and the farmer, if we were to buy the property. 

Thanks in advance


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Using somebody else's land
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2020, 08:18:25 pm »
You need to know what arrangement does exist, and if nothing on paper you need a lawyer to advise you as to whether the farmer already has tenancy rights; which from what you say, he may well do.  That would affect the value of the land, and hence what you should pay for the property.

Lots of arrangements between neighbours in the country are made by word of mouth and a handshake, and work absolutely fine, but you do need to know the pitfalls and make sure you avoid them.  Giving 365 day access is probably the biggest one.  A grazing license would not be for 365 days a year, specifically to not create a de facto tenancy.

The farmer having grazing and hay, and doing no fencing whatsoever, does not sound a very equitable arrangement to me.  Yes, the pasture is kept in good order by this regime, which saves you finding people to mow it or whatever, but the market rate for rented grazing is probably around 100/acre/year, so a total of 1300 per annum in your case.  You could pay for a lot of mowing / topping for that....

Any genuine farmer would not baulk at having a simple grazing agreement with new and inexperienced owners, (although most farmers do prefer to do as little paperwork as possible), so as you are new to all this, I would advise you to go for that.  If he's not keen, that might be alarm bells.  There will almost certainly be other sheepkeepers locally who would take the grazing.

Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Using somebody else's land
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2020, 12:33:21 am »
I'm a bit out of my depth because I live in Scotland where the whole sale is handled by a solicitor, so they would be dealing direct with the seller's solicitor and would learn all the details from source.  The situation is different in England - I assume that is where you are
I think that if the status quo carries on unchallenged from one owner to the next then it may simply become fact, with no-one to gainsay the neighbour, and you have effectively lost 65% of the land you have bought.  Can you make it a condition of purchase that either the land is sold to the farmer and you renegotiate the purchase price, or that the current agreement ceases with the purchase?  You could then renegotiate an agreement, a legal agreement made up by a lawyer who understands land purchases if you so wished, or use the land yourself, or offer it for tenancy to someone else on your terms.  If you do the latter, then you can make sure that everything is set down legally, with a time limit and details of who looks after the fencing, who limes the land, who owns the crops, how often their livestock is wormed, that the land must be kept in good heart and so on.  If this cannot be sorted before you buy, then don't buy - you would be landing yourself with a big stick to beat you.

I agree with Sally that you need to know and to understand the situation. At the moment you seem rather fuzzy about it, but land ownership and court cases over just who owns what, have been the bread and butter for lawyers since long before King Alfred was burning cakes. Land ownership squabbles have also made families penniless - sort it out before you buy, or choose another property if it's not quickly resolved.
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

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  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Using somebody else's land
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2020, 08:12:12 am »
Absolutely one to sort out before you purchase. If you are serious about wanting the property insist on vacant possession of the land before any sale.  It will be up to the vendor to remove the tenant and if they can't because a tenancy has been established, even without a formal agreement, you can steer clear.


  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Using somebody else's land
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2020, 12:34:28 pm »
I would buy it on the understanding that it is vacant and that the tenant has no rights. If you have no interest in the land then the simplest thing to do would be to separate it from the house and sell it. The agent your buying through will probably advise you of its value.


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