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Purchasing a Property with an Unadopted Road

Purchasing a Property with an Unadopted Road

When buying a property, one of the aspects you should be wary of is whether the main road to which the property fronts is adopted by the Local Authority.

What is an unadopted road?

Unadopted roads refer to roads which do not have to be maintained by the Highway Authority under the Highways Act 1980. A legal duty to maintain these roads still exists, but it falls to the owners of the road to do so.

This usually consists of the owners of any properties fronting that road, but may also include those where the side or length of their property fronts the unadopted road.

What's the difference between an unadopted road and a private road?

The public usually has the right to freely pass along any unadopted road, which differs from private roads, where only the owner and those with permission can use them.

In addition, those responsible for its maintenance do not get any enhanced rights over the road on account of their financial contribution. For example, they cannot erect a gate at the road’s entrance.

How to find out whether a road is unadopted

Whether a highway is adopted or not will be revealed in a Local Authority Search which would usually be obtained during the course of the purchase transaction.

There is also the option of obtaining a Highways Search from the Local Authority, in addition to the Local Authority Search, which provides more detail in respect of the highway.

Is it worth buying a property on an unadopted road?

Unadopted roads will vary from highway to highway depending on how well maintained they are. The worst highways may have poor drainage, countless pot holes and no street lighting.

This can leave the owners having to spend large amounts to collectively fund the rectifying of any such issues. As a result, consideration should be taken when purchasing a property on an unadopted road, not only because of the purchasers’ potential future expense, but also the potential arguments it could cause with neighbours over expected contributions.

Why would a council not adopt a road?

It is possible to request the Local Authority adopt a highway, but this is purely their decision and they will usually expect the road’s current condition to be such that they will not have to immediately spend money repairing it.

Any expense for bringing an unadopted road up to a suitable standard has to be met by the owners of the properties fronting the road. Alternatively, the Council could potentially carry out the work on the road themselves and then invoice the property owners for the cost.

A Conveyancing Solicitors' View

"As a potential purchaser you should therefore be very aware of the potential issues that could arise when purchasing a property which fronts an unadopted road," comments Conveyancing Solicitor Clare Hallett.

Conveyancing solicitors in Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole and the New Forest

Our Conveyancing Team, based in Christchurch, also cover Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and Clare or a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.

The content of this article, blog or video is not intended as specific legal advice. For tailored assistance, please contact a member of our team.