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Buying a house with a public footpath

Interested in buying a property that’s crossed by a public footpath? Here’s the key information you need to know.

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By Pete Mugleston  | Mortgage Advisor Pete has been a mortgage advisor for over 10 years, and is regularly cited in both trade and national press.

Updated: 28th March 2019* | Published: 28th March 2019

Public rights of way are often unwanted add-ons to landed estates, and can raise many concerns with potential buyers.

Some customers approach us to find out what the risks and implications are when taking out a mortgage on a property that is crossed by a public footpath or other right of way, so we’ve put together this handy guide addressing all of the questions we hear

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What is a right of way?

There are many things you’ll need to know when buying a house that’s crossed by a public right of way, but we’ll start with the basics - what is a public right of way?

As defined by Ramblers.org, a right of way is “a path that anyone has the legal right to use on foot, and sometimes using other modes of transport.”

By law, members of the public have a right to “pass and repass along the way” of a public footpath or other right of way. They may also spend time in the area, provided they stay on the path without causing any obstruction.

Pushchairs, wheelchairs and mobility scooters are also permitted on public rights of way, as are dogs provided they are under close control.

Implications when buying a house with a public right of way

Now that we’ve covered the definition of a public right of way, it’s time to outline the implications it will have on your mortgage application if there’s one crossing your property...

Deposit requirements for a public right of way property

As discussed, properties with public footpaths can be regarded with concern by potential buyers, therefore making them higher risk investments to lenders. You may therefore be required to put forward a larger deposit so than you would first imagine, so as to instill confidence in your lender.

Under normal circumstances, the majority of residential providers offer up to 85% loan to value (LTV), whereas others will extend to 90%. A handful will accept 95% LTV. With this sort of property you may find fewer willing lenders, especially at higher LTVs, which may impact the rates you’re offered.

Your other circumstances will also dictate retrospectively how much deposit you will need to put down. Generally speaking, if you can exceed this sum you are likely to be subject to better rates and a wider variety of lenders.

Contact us if you have queries surrounding how much deposit will be required if you’re consider buying a house with a public footpath.

How a public right of way can affect property value

As a general rule of thumb, the more inconvenience a public right of way causes, the more it will affect a property’s value. Some of the most damaging ones could reduce the market value by as much as 25%.

On the plus side, this could be a benefit to prospective buyers as it means they can get “better value for money” when purchasing a home. However, it’s important to consider the other side of the coin...

Reselling a home with a public right of way

If you decide to sell your property later down the line, it stands to reason that you may not be able to resell for as much as you might hope. It may also take longer to sell as potential buyers could be put off by a public right of way.

Depending on how damaging the right of way has been on the surrounding area throughout the period, and whether or not the amount of disruption caused has increased over time, there could be a risk that you’ll end up selling the property for less than you paid for it.

Other risks associated when buying a house with a public right of way

There are of course other implications to consider before deciding to buy a house with a public footpath or right of way. Depending on the location, the type of right of way and other variables, these factors may have a great bearing on your privacy and day-to-day life.

Limitations and responsibilities

Anyone who owns land that is crossed by a public right of way faces limitations as to what they can use the surrounding land for, and has other associated responsibilities.

For one, it is illegal to prevent the public using a right of way, and owners are required to keep it free from obstruction. They are also prohibited from putting up misleading signs that might discourage access from the public.

What’s more, you are forbidden to put anything that can be classified as a hazard in a field crossed by a public right of way. This includes, but is not limited to, which animals may be kept in a field which has a public footpath running through it.

If you’re planning to increase the size of property by way of an extension or conservatory for example, it could be more difficult to obtain planning permission.

Trespassing

Prospective buyers of a property with a public footpath running through it should be open to the possibility that they may encounter trespassers on their land - whether it be intentional or not.

Trespass is deemed a civil offence. A landowner may use “reasonable force” to make a trespasser leave their property, but no more than is warranted. It is unlikely that criminal prosecution will arise unless a trespasser causes damage.

If it’s hard to distinguish between a public footpath and the owned land, homeowners are within their rights to fence off the area and put up signs to notify the public, provided no obstruction is caused to the right of way.

Noise nuisance

Before getting a mortgage on a property with a public footpath, potential buyers must also consider the fact that noise pollution could be an issue, particularly in more urban areas or if, for example, near a school.

As people are legally permitted to spend recreational time on a public right of way, there is a chance that groups may congregate in the area and cause unwanted noise near your property.

Ultimately, whether or not you decide to buy a house with a public footpath comes down to individual sensitivities. If you feel as though it will cause you distress or impact your peace of mind in any way, it may be best to dismiss it.

Why you should speak to a whole of market mortgage broker

We’ve helped over 88,000 people find the right mortgage, even those who may have been declined a mortgage or had bad credit history.

In fact, our customers consistently rate us 5 stars on Feefo, mainly due to our high levels of service, but also because we offer offers a 5-star service with access to expert brokers who are:

  • Whole of market.
  • Have a working relationship with all lenders, not just a select few.
  • Already know the lenders to go to for properties with a public right of way as they successfully arrange these already.
  • OMA Accredited advisors.
  • Have completed a 12 module LIBF accredited training course.

Talk to a mortgage expert today

If you like what you’re reading or require more information, call Online Mortgage Advisor on 0800 304 7880 or make an enquiry here.

Then sit back and let us do all the hard work in finding the broker with the right expertise for your circumstances. We don’t charge a fee, and there’s no obligation or marks on your credit rating.

Updated: 28th March 2019
OnlineMortgageAdvisor 2019 ©

FCA disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The info on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs. Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.

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