Key considerations when purchasing rural property

Buying rural property can bring with it some unique challenges and opportunities. Property solicitor Julia Routledge from Greene & Greene solicitors looks at the main points to consider

Posted: September 11, 2019

rural property

1. Are the planning consents for the property acceptable?

It is not uncommon for modern houses in rural areas to have occupancy restrictions attached to them, meaning that the property can only be occupied by an individual who is employed in local rural businesses (such as farming) or their dependents, children or the widow, widower of such individuals. These conditions have been used by councils to ensure that development in rural areas was only carried out if there was a genuine need for housing for people employed locally. Occupying a property in breach of such a condition can result in enforcement action from the local authority. It is possible to apply to the council to have such a condition removed, however this can be a lengthy and expensive process.

In addition, with older rural properties it is especially important to check if the property is listed, and ensure that all works which have been carried out to the property have been undertaken with the appropriate consents. A listed building surveyor should be able to assist with this.

2. Are the boundaries correct?

When purchasing rural land you should carefully check that the boundaries on the deeds or title plan for the property accurately match the boundaries on the ground. Field boundaries can change and so it is important to check these are correct to assess the full extent of the land you are purchasing. It is important to do this early on in your purchase as any discrepancies will need to be raised with the seller’s advisors as soon as possible so they can be rectified.

3. Are there any rights of way?

Much of rural Britain is connected through a complex network of footpaths, so it is important to check whether the land you are purchasing has any footpaths or other public rights of way crossing it. Local highways authorities will hold a ’definitive map‘ which will show the route of all public rights of way in that particular county. It is also important to check the routes on the definitive map against the route on the ground as any discrepancy could result in further rights of way being created. If there are public rights of way recorded across the property you are purchasing it is important that a declaration is submitted to the local authority every 20 years in order to protect your land from any new public rights of way being created without your knowledge.

4. How will you access the property?

It is important to check that the boundary of the public road and the boundary of the land which you are purchasing are adjacent to each other and that there is no gap between the two. If there is a gap between the land you are purchasing and the recorded public road, it may be possible to purchase an indemnity policy for access purposes, which can often be purchased at the seller’s cost. Your solicitor will be able to advise you as to whether one is required prior to your purchase of the property.

5.Check for pipelines and cables

Rural land may be subject to further rights in favour of utility companies for the transport of water, gas and electricity via cables and pipelines which cross over or under the land. Often, the deeds which permit the utility companies to lay these cables and pipelines may also provide access rights to repair, maintain and replace any pipelines or cables. You should inform the utility company of the change of ownership, as you may be entitled to a small annual fee for permitting your land to be used in this way.

If you would like further information on this article or a no-obligation quote for the purchase of rural property please contact Julia Routledge on 01284 717590 or at For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.