An MPs’ report has called on the Law Commission to consider axing manorial rights. Compensation could be offered if these “Lord of the Manor” titles were scrapped. These rights, which date back to the Middle Ages, can give holders the power to dig for minerals, shoot, hunt or fish over other people’s land.
A law introduced in 2002 required holders of manorial rights to register their claims before October 2013, or loose them. Around 90,000 claims were registered in the year before the deadline. Prior to the Land Registration Act it was possible to buy Lordship titles.
Following the registration some home owners were astonished to find manorial rights registered on their properties and alarmed that this would affect them when trying to sell the house, or obtain a mortgage on it, and there were even worries about bulldozers digging up gardens for minerals.
Around 700 homeowners living in the historical area of Dewisland, around Solva in Pembrokeshire, received letters from the Land Registry following the registration. The letters were sent to detail the claims of Doreen Bowie, who bought the title Lord of the Manor of Dewisland in 1987.
The advice given to homeowners who received the letters at the time, by the partner of a local firm of solicitors, was “not be over concerned as by filing the appropriate UN4 form with Land Registry, you will lodge your dispute to the claim and protect your property and land”.
In Welwyn Garden City, around 500 households in the Handside area were told Lord Salisbury had registered claims to manorial rights over their properties.
The householders had been reassured there was “no intention for the rights to be exercised”, the committee heard.
On Anglesey, a Cheshire businessman, Stephen Hayes, who bought the title of Lord of the Manor of Treffos in 1992, registered claims on around 4,000 properties in 2013.
After protests from residents and “considerable local public pressure”, Mr Hayes agreed to drop all his original rights claims, the committee’s report said.
Some manorial rights were “impossible to exercise and of no practical significance”, the MPs said.
The committee said the Law Commission, the body which scrutinises existing legislation, should assess whether some or all of the rights should be abolished and consider whether compensation could be offered to title holders.
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