Converted barns, divided country houses, and farmyard developments often involve shared driveways or amenities. These can include vegetable gardens, office space, septic tanks and parking areas but they also extend to rules governing noise, animals, walls and hedge height.
Bill Spreckley of Stacks Property Search & Acquisition says shared amenities should by no means put prospective buyers off a property at all but a degree of caution should be taken. ‘When considering buying a property with communal land and facilities I would suggest that purchasers investigate the implications,’ recommends Mr Spreckly. ‘Make these investigations at an early stage – don’t wait until you are so far down the road that it is too late to change your mind – your findings may affect your decision to buy. In addition to restrictions and rules, there are likely to be financial issues relating to the upkeep and maintenance of communal areas.
The local planning department should have records which determine how the conversion was originally arranged. ‘This will give you a clear picture of what areas are communal, which are exclusive to the property in which you are interested, and whether there are any areas owned by other parties that you will need access to. You should also be able to discover whether there are any shared services.’
Finally, it’s a good idea to extract as much information as possible from the estate agent and vendor. Establish who has responsibility for boundaries, and how the maintenance of shared land is organised (for example: for a shared drive, who is responsible for buying and laying the gravel) and find out if these arrangements are official.