By 13th October 2013, all landowners who have manorial rights must have registered them with the Land Registry if they wish them to continue as legally binding rights, or lose them entirely.
Alistair Millar, agricultural lawyer at Tallents in Southwell, explains how this deadline might affect rural landowners.
It’s quite possible that a landowner does not know he has manorial rights as there isn’t a definitive list of what they are, their extent and to whom they belong.
There can be a lot of confusion surrounding manorial rights, for example, tenants who have purchased a freehold of land may have acquired the manorial rights from the previous owner, or if open land has since been enclosed, then the manorial rights might have been forfeited.
But why should a landowner be bothered about protecting such a historic right, surely it’s not relevant today? Alistair explains:
Although the title ‘Lord of the Manor’ seems outdated to most people, the manorial rights it entails could prove very lucrative, especially if they include mineral or sporting rights. Additionally, the manorial rights might also prevent future surface development on a piece of land, including the placement of new buildings or the erection of wind turbines.
It is important for any landowner to establish if they have manorial rights and we at Tallents can help with clarifying the ownership and the extent of the land over which the rights prevail by reviewing old title deeds, documents and family archives.
If there is a possibility that the manorial rights could exist and might be valuable in the future, then it’s a vital exercise to conduct to enable registration of the rights to take place before the Land Registry deadline of 13th October 2013.
If you’re a Trustee or a Life Tenant of a Settled Land Act Trust, then we would urge you to investigate the ownership of any possible manorial rights as soon as possible as you have a legal obligation to protect the assets of the Trust.
By not considering manorial rights, you could put yourselves at risk of a future claim by beneficiaries of the Trust for not protecting and preserving the manorial rights.
Although the registration deadline of October seems a long way off, the investigation and registration process can take a long time, so we would recommend that landowners or Trustees, who may have manorial rights to contact us as quickly as possible.