Council sale forces resident to trespass

Mark Durant outside his homeWhat would happen if the land that you walk on to get to your front door was sold to someone else?

That's the question that Essex homeowner Mark Durant, 41, is being forced to ask after the local council sold the front garden he had been renting for 25 years.

According to the Daily Mail, Durant and three of his neighbours are locked in an "anxious waiting game" as a result of the sale of the strips of land, which forces Durant to trespass just to get to the front door of his property.

The four strips of land in Marine Parade, Beck Road and Zider Pass in Canvey, Essex, were sold at a London auction in February for £4,800 to a private bidder after Essex County Council put them up for sale.

And at this point, the four families affected, who were outbid at the auction despite clubbing together to buy the land, have no idea who the new owner is or what he or she plans to do with their gardens.

"What if the owner refused to let me access my own home?" Durant said. "What would I do?"

His neighbours, all of whom had also been renting the strips of land sold as a single lot, are equally worried.

Mike Bering, 61, of Marine Parade, told local newspaper the Echo: "Since the auction we have heard nothing from the council and are still none the wiser about who owns it. It's just a waiting game to see who turns up and what they decide to do. We have no control over it."

However, Essex County Council argues that the homeowners knew their gardens belonged to the council and could therefore be sold at any time when they bought their homes.

An Essex County Council spokesman said: "While we appreciate the residents' situation, the land concerned is Essex County Council land, and this would have been made clear when the houses were bought. Once the sale is complete the owner's details will be a matter of public record at the Land Registry."

To prevent a similar situation arising at your home, the lesson here is therefore to check that you own, or have first refusal on, and land that accesses a property before agreeing to buy it.

You can also find out more about trespassing laws by visiting the Crown Prosecution Service website.

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