1. Instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf for the purchase
Ellisons have lots of experience in woodland transactions and would be more than happy to guide you through the transaction.
As solicitors, we work with the other party’s land agent and solicitor to deal with the transaction efficiently on behalf of our clients.
2. Contract pack and searches
The seller’s solicitor will send us a draft contract, title documents and a plan which shows the boundaries of the woodland you would like to purchase.
We will then ask if you would like to order any searches, you will be provided with an information document on the different searches.
We would usually recommend a local authority search which confirms whether the property is affected by any public rights of way or highways statements, restrictions on the use of land and whether the woodland is likely to be affected by compulsory purchase, any planning consents, environmental and pollution notices. We would also recommend that we include optional queries to confirm whether any part of the woodland is registered as common land or as a town or village green.
If woodland is registered as common land, this means that the public will usually have the right to roam on it without having to use public rights of way and can use the land for activities, such as, walking, running and climbing.
The woodland may be affected by rights of way. This could be a public right of way, for example, a footpath or bridleway, which means the public have a legal right across the land along a specific route. The owner of land with a public right of way has responsibilities, for example, to avoid putting obstructions across the route and to make sure vegetation does not encroach on the route.
The woodland may also be affected by private rights of way which enable neighbouring land owners to pass over the land by foot and/or in a vehicle. We would investigate this on your behalf as part of our title review.
It is important that we confirm whether the woodland directly abuts a public highway. If it does not, we will check that you have the necessary rights of way over third party land in order to access the woodland from a public highway.
We will raise pre-contract enquiries with the seller’s solicitor. Enquiries are questions about the woodland which will vary in each and every matter and will depend on the documents provided by the seller’s solicitor and results of the searches.
4. Purchase report
We will prepare a report on title which will highlight matters on the title that may affect your use and enjoyment of it. This will include the rights of way mentioned above, for example, together with any covenants that affect the land. For example, restrictive covenants are agreements that a party imposes that will restrict the use of the land in some way for the benefit of another’s land.
We will discuss with you what your proposed use of the woodland is and whether any restrictive covenants on the woodland could prevent your enjoyment of the woodland. As an example, restrictive covenants could prevent you from using the land for the racing of cars and motorcycles or using the land as a commercial campsite.
We will negotiate the terms of the sale contract and transfer with the seller’s solicitor. When the documents are in an agreed form, you will be asked to sign them in readiness for exchange of contracts and completion.
6. Exchange of contracts
When both parties are ready, the solicitors will exchange contracts. A completion date is agreed at exchange and the contract becomes legally binding on the parties.
A buyer cannot now withdraw from the transaction without financial penalty, the seller will be entitled to keep your deposit and sue you for associated costs e.g. their legal fees.
7. Completion day
On the date of completion, we will complete the formalities on your behalf and the woodland is yours!
8. After completion
Your solicitor will deal with the post-completion formalities which includes payment of any stamp duty land tax due to HMRC and will make an application to the Land Registry to register the property in your name.
If you have any questions about purchasing a woodland or would like a fee estimate, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Rural Affairs Team.