Taking ownership of access road - anything to watch out for?

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PolarityManPolarityMan Frets: 5897
We live in an in-fill developemtn of 7 houses built by a small local builder. When we bought the house 7 years ago the builder suggested that he would setup a company to own the access road then transfer this company to the owners taking a 1/7th share each. 

Well after 7 years it looks like he has finally got round to it and we got a letter from a solictor asking if we wanted to do it and if so it would cost approx £100 per household for the solicitors to setup the company, transfer the land deeds and whatnot. 

Now when we bought the property we agreed that we were jointly responsible for upkeep /  maintenance costs on the access road along with the other houses and we've done this informally so far.

So my question is whether we should be concerned that we are becoming liable for anything major that we weren't liable before. 
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  • sev112sev112 Frets: 1059
    Just wondering why it’s not being adopted by the local authority?
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  • PolarityManPolarityMan Frets: 5897
    sev112 said:
    Just wondering why it’s not being adopted by the local authority?
    Dont know..maybe no one has ever tried?
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  • sev112sev112 Frets: 1059
    Wondering if you have obligations to maintain - for example if you have potholes and a cyclist comes off, do you not incur that liability etc, also damaged cars.  Personally I wouldn’t want the liability for no obvious benefit.
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  • RedlesterRedlester Frets: 518
    Hopefully a solicitor or two frequent these pages. 

    Has the gov.uk site or your local council planning dept got any web pages that could give you basic info? 

    I think you’re right to want to explore further  and get trusted third party advice. 

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  • munckeemunckee Frets: 7284
    sev112 said:
    Wondering if you have obligations to maintain - for example if you have potholes and a cyclist comes off, do you not incur that liability etc, also damaged cars.  Personally I wouldn’t want the liability for no obvious benefit.
    In theory you would be liable for any accidents, postman tripping etc. You would need to form a residents group and arrange Public Liability insurance. 
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  • bloodandtearsbloodandtears Frets: 1076
    Travellers
    My trading feedback

    is it crazy how saying sentences backwards creates backwards sentences saying how crazy it is?

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  • TheBigDipperTheBigDipper Frets: 2401
    I live in an infill of 6 houses built in 2010 on the plots of two small bungalows that originally had huge garden areas at the back. We have a small area of common land (access road and pavement) that we look after via a management company that we own and run for our own benefit. The original developers set it up and transferred it to the householders when the final house was sold.  I'm one of the unpaid directors and each house has a 1/6th share in the company and one vote at the AGM. The houses are all freehold. We stopped using a managing agent as our needs were simple and we had a vested interest in doing things properly - unlike our experiences with him, sadly. 

    We also used to have responsibility for the sewage and groundwater systems onsite, plus the two pumps that sent it to the mains, but Wessex Water took that over in 2015 thanks to EU legislation that wouldn't let it stay in our own hands. If we'd been negligent, it might have affected the public sewers, or something similar. We're happy, as the cost of servicing and the cost of saving up to replace the pumps every 10 years or so was high.

    Now all we pay for is insurance against people having accidents on the common parts, the fee for filing our accounts and any repairs to the roadway or pavement required to fix trip hazards, etc. 

    The council won't adopt our little road because they have no need to take on extra responsibilities if we're doing it ourselves. Our official address is still the old house address on the public road. 

    We all have a Covenant with the management company and jointly with each of the other houses which restricts us from doing certain things and we've agreed to do other things. Nothing odd. For example, we can't keep caravans or mobile homes or boats on our (small) drives. We can't keep chickens (!). We must keep garden areas as gardens (no bricking them up and parking extra cars at the front). If you want to sell, you won't be able to if you haven't followed it. New owners won't get the land registered in their name by the Land Registry if they don't sign the covenant and agree to abide by it.

    It's not too onerous and works. But we're only 6 houses. Prior to that I lived on the Isle of Dogs with 25 freehold houses and 300 leasehold flats in blocks. The management company for that had a terrible time and was an expensive nightmare. 7 houses should be OK. PM me if you want to know more.
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  • jonnyburgojonnyburgo Frets: 8793
    Get on to the council for advice
    "OUR TOSSPOT"
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  • PolarityManPolarityMan Frets: 5897
    I live in an infill of 6 houses built in 2010 on the plots of two small bungalows that originally had huge garden areas at the back. We have a small area of common land (access road and pavement) that we look after via a management company that we own and run for our own benefit. The original developers set it up and transferred it to the householders when the final house was sold.  I'm one of the unpaid directors and each house has a 1/6th share in the company and one vote at the AGM. The houses are all freehold. We stopped using a managing agent as our needs were simple and we had a vested interest in doing things properly - unlike our experiences with him, sadly. 

    We also used to have responsibility for the sewage and groundwater systems onsite, plus the two pumps that sent it to the mains, but Wessex Water took that over in 2015 thanks to EU legislation that wouldn't let it stay in our own hands. If we'd been negligent, it might have affected the public sewers, or something similar. We're happy, as the cost of servicing and the cost of saving up to replace the pumps every 10 years or so was high.

    Now all we pay for is insurance against people having accidents on the common parts, the fee for filing our accounts and any repairs to the roadway or pavement required to fix trip hazards, etc. 

    The council won't adopt our little road because they have no need to take on extra responsibilities if we're doing it ourselves. Our official address is still the old house address on the public road. 

    We all have a Covenant with the management company and jointly with each of the other houses which restricts us from doing certain things and we've agreed to do other things. Nothing odd. For example, we can't keep caravans or mobile homes or boats on our (small) drives. We can't keep chickens (!). We must keep garden areas as gardens (no bricking them up and parking extra cars at the front). If you want to sell, you won't be able to if you haven't followed it. New owners won't get the land registered in their name by the Land Registry if they don't sign the covenant and agree to abide by it.

    It's not too onerous and works. But we're only 6 houses. Prior to that I lived on the Isle of Dogs with 25 freehold houses and 300 leasehold flats in blocks. The management company for that had a terrible time and was an expensive nightmare. 7 houses should be OK. PM me if you want to know more.
    That's very helpful, it sounds like a similar arrangement to what is being proposed here. I'm not sure what the status is of the sewage and groundwater systems.  Do you know if there is any way to check this?

    We are already jointly liable for maintenance jointly as part for the property deeds for the actual  houses so sounds like we will end up in a similar position just needing insurance and nominal fees for administration. 
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  • JalapenoJalapeno Frets: 5406
    edited March 4
    Is the road made up ? If so, potholes shouldn't be too onerous. 

    If not - form a working party as it'll be a annual task as frost & rain do their thing.

    I live in a group of houses with a shared (unmade) driveway (across our front gardens), it's unmade, and we've had various collective goes with partial success of improving durability, but the potholes keep coming back - I've found the best remedy is a Wickes bagged tarmac base (really stinky, sticky stuff), then a layer of Type 1 aggregate, topped off with pea shingle - without the tarmac to stick the type 1 & shingle in place it all comes out again eventually. Got hint this from another home owner who lived on an unmade road - they didn't care about aesthetics and just used bagged tarmac.
    Imagine something sharp and witty here ......

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  • strtdvstrtdv Frets: 2085
    I'd seek sensible legal advice before I signed anything. In an ideal situation the council should adopt the road and the local water company should take over sewage works (assuming mains sewers rather than septic tanks).
    You can get caught out with certain things if you don't sort it out properly (for instance friends of ours can't get gas or fibre-optic broadband because the road hasn't been adopted by the council).
    Robot Lords of Tokyo, SMILE TASTE KITTENS!
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  • JalapenoJalapeno Frets: 5406
    strtdv said:
    I'd seek sensible legal advice before I signed anything. In an ideal situation the council should adopt the road and the local water company should take over sewage works (assuming mains sewers rather than septic tanks).
    You can get caught out with certain things if you don't sort it out properly (for instance friends of ours can't get gas or fibre-optic broadband because the road hasn't been adopted by the council).
    And the mains water supply - the original builder here put in 3/4" Iron pipe, which is now falling to bits - Water company foolishly adopted it by default as we have stop cocks per house. It does mean we have the communal driveway up every year or so while they replace another metre of rusty pipe with blue plastic.  IMHO they'd be better doing the job for all 6 houses once and for all, but not really listened to us so far. 

    Imagine something sharp and witty here ......

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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 14500
    Try to get the LA to adopt it.

    All you need is for a big accident to be caused by a pothole and you'll need massive levels of public liability cover.

    And absolutely guaranteed - one of the 7 will refuse to pay their bit for premiums / maintenance etc etc. Maybe not the current 7, but the next person to move it.



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  • TheBigDipperTheBigDipper Frets: 2401
    Try to get the LA to adopt it.

    All you need is for a big accident to be caused by a pothole and you'll need massive levels of public liability cover.

    And absolutely guaranteed - one of the 7 will refuse to pay their bit for premiums / maintenance etc etc. Maybe not the current 7, but the next person to move it.
    Getting the council to adopt you would easily be the best solution. 

    Sewers and groundwater systems should already have been taken over by the local sewage provider - is it Wessex Water in Southampton too? Whoever sends your house a bill for waste water should be able to tell you - it's them or no-one. 

    Our shared roadway and pavements are brick blocks and no drains. Rainwater drains through the cracks between the blocks. We don't get potholes. In 2019, we did a small (£1K) repair to several trip hazards and a couple of sunken areas. The company we hired lifted, filled, replaced and levelled them. That was the first repair since construction in 2010.

    Our insurance renewal last October cost £490 (shared between us all) and that has £5M in public liability insurance. 

    The point about non-payers is good. We've been OK here, but at our previous East London estate, there were lots of non-payers in dispute with the management company about the level of repair and decoration (or lack of it) and used that as an excuse not to pay. They were all leaseholders in flats complaining about the common areas and roofs in their blocks, though. Freeholders in their houses dealt with their own maintenance and only paid a share of the costs for the common parts. Like where I am now. 

    The Ts & Cs for that estate were written in 1987. In this one, written in 2010, everyone is obliged to pay first and dispute later. Failure to pay win a reasonable timeframe (40 days, I think, from memory), for whatever reason could even result in the management company locking someone out of their house until they've paid what they owe. The management company could even sublet the property to someone else. That, apparently, is written in law. Which was a surprise when I found out....
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  • JohnS37JohnS37 Frets: 201
    We live in a private Road with 33 houses.  We have a management company that maintains the fabric of the tarmacced road surface, the avenue of trees on either side and the grass verges.  We ask the residents to contribute an annual subscription (currently £125) that we accumulate against future maintenance costs.  We carry insurance against third-party liabilities.
    We have a board with unpaid volunteer directors, and it is not onerous.  The directors occasionally get a working party together for minor seasonal tasks.  All but one of our residents cheerfully stumps up each year, but the contribution is of course voluntary.
    Having said all that, if you can get your local council to adopt the road it will save you the hassle.
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  • TheBigDipperTheBigDipper Frets: 2401
    One more point regarding getting your estate adopted by the council. It was before my time, but I've been looking at old documentation for another reason. When we approached Christchurch Council (as it was then) regarding adoption, they said "no" because the area was not up to the standard required. We have a brick block road, no drains, no streetlights. There are other slightly larger estates elsewhere in our village that have tarmac roads, drains, slab pavements and streetlights. They have been adopted. 

    But our space is far, far cuter! :-) 
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  • boogiemanboogieman Frets: 8072
    One more point regarding getting your estate adopted by the council. It was before my time, but I've been looking at old documentation for another reason. When we approached Christchurch Council (as it was then) regarding adoption, they said "no" because the area was not up to the standard required. We have a brick block road, no drains, no streetlights. There are other slightly larger estates elsewhere in our village that have tarmac roads, drains, slab pavements and streetlights. They have been adopted. 

    But our space is far, far cuter! :-) 
    So if the council do adopt are they under some obligation to put in a minimum standard of lighting? Just curious. 

    We live in an adopted close but for some reason are responsible for the pavement between us, ( just four houses). We’ve got a family friend who runs a small tarmacing and paving business and he’s already done the few repairs that were needed. Cost us a bottle of scotch. 
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