Are you ‘fine’ with your rights to park at your commercial property?
The purchase of a freehold or leasehold commercial property is a busy and exciting time. Parking is one aspect of a purchase which can be easily overlooked, but is extremely important to the use of a property. It is key to understand the rights to park that you have in connection with your property, and in this article we look at some recent issues we have come across when advising our clients on their properties.
We see a number of commercial leases which give a tenant a ‘right to park’ on land owned by the Landlord, rather than including parking spaces within the property demised to the tenant under the Lease. Tenants need to carefully consider the basis on which they are given this right in their lease – is it an ‘exclusive right’, or on a ‘first come first served basis’? If there are visitors’ parking spaces, on which basis are they allocated?Tenants also need to consider their repairing obligations and payments they may have to make towards the upkeep of the parking spaces, lighting and security apparatus.
Neighbouring owners of freehold commercial properties may be given rights (easements) to park on the other person’s land. The wording of the right granted needs to be carefully considered, but there are a number of cases which inform how these rights will be interpreted, especially if the wording used was unclear. In Copeland v Greenhalf, for example, a right to park was so expansive that it resulted in an ‘exclusive right to possession’ so was no longer an easement and was void. Similarly, in Batchelor v Marlow a parking easement was found not to be enforceable as the ‘entire grant of beneficial use of the land is given’. It is important therefore that if a right to park is granted, a certain number of spaces to be used is specified, which does not prevent the owner of the land being parked on, from making use of their land as they would expect to.
Those purchasing new-build commercial (and residential) properties should look out for any restrictive covenants (a clause within the transfer which restricts the use of a property) prohibiting the parking of commercial vehicles, boats or caravans, especially outside offices and homes. Depending on how the covenants were worded, they can be enforced by neighbours but also by any management company set up for the estate.
A common misconception is that when purchasing a property any grassed or soft landscaped areas can be turned into parking spaces with no permission being needed. If you are looking to create new parking areas by laying paving over a surface area of garden larger than 5 square meters and you will not be using a permeable surface material, you may need to make an application for planning permission.
When purchasing a property, a local authority search will help to identify planning permission that is already in place and therefore if additional permission is required. It will also highlight whether the local authority is implementing any traffic or parking restrictions in the local area.
If you have any questions or queries regarding parking at a commercial property, or a property that you are looking to purchase or take a lease of, please do not hesitate to contact our commercial property team today on 01283 526 200.