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'I was sold some land. Apparently, multiple other people were sold it as well.' MAJOR UPDATE

'I was sold some land. Apparently, multiple other people were sold it as well.' MAJOR UPDATE

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There are scammers everywhere, even the most vigilante among us can fall prey to them.

In a popular post on the Legal Advice UK subreddit, a man shared his shady experience of being sold land that was sold to others as well. He wrote:

"I was sold some land. Apparently, multiple other people were sold it as well."

This won't be a very long post but it seems to be a complex issue and I'm way in over my head here. To explain, I live at the end of a street with my garden backing onto an alleyway (that connects my neighbour's gardens and mine, my garden is slightly bigger than theirs) and a large plot of land behind me.

There used to be an old hospital here that has since been torn down and replaced with a new build that's going to be flats. During the construction I was approached by the developer who offered to sell me a large portion of the "garden" area of the land at a discounted rate because it was useless to him.

I agreed and paid up and have since been progressively turning it into a sort of "secret garden" space for my family and neighbours. But a few weeks ago, the fences partitioning it from the building at the back were pulled down and destroyed with a pond and fountain I was having installed filled in. Thousands of pounds just gone up in smoke :)

I spoke to the builders who tbf were very helpful and explained they were hired by one of the building's tenants and decided it wasn't worth the trouble so left. Got a phone number and spoke to the tenant who claims the land is their's and refuses to budge. They've since involved a solicitor who has produced the receipts and money paid showing they were sold the land, not good :(

Since then, a couple other people at the complex have come out the woodwork and it's become something of a five way legal battle with multiple tenants claiming they were sold the land for various amounts of money (far, far, far more than I paid!) and were all told this would be their own "private" garden.

No one is going to concede and everyone has come forward with different legal claims (paid the most, bought it "first", bought it last, etc.) to why it's their's. I don't have a solicitor and I've generally been left out of this because apparently "I have nothing to do with the property" so all their solicitors refuse to speak with me :|

Is there anything I can do here to get the ball rolling on getting my garden back? So far it's becoming a horrible muddy waste land because of separate builders and gardeners rocking up and then me having to explain the situation and them leaving. I'm not bothered about the financial compensation for the damages caused even that'd be nice, I just want my garden back.

EDIT: It would appear that I may have been "digitally scammed" though I've yet to look on the land registry. I've just realised that it seems the other claimers paid in cash whereas I paid digitally. Has my luck ran out? :(

The internet had a lot of questions and advice for OP.

Accurate-One4451 wrote:

Who owns the land according to the land registry? Do you have any legal cover on your home/car insurance or bank account?

OP responded:

I've no idea, no one's mentioned the land registry yet though I assume it's me as I did the purchase some years ago.

I have legal cover on my home insurance (thank you dad) would that be able to help in this circumstance?

Accurate-One4451 responded:

Buy a copy of the title from the land registry and see if it's you that owns it. Speak to the legal cover team as any legal challenges can become very expensive very quickly. Worst case, your cover doesn't help, but you should find out before incurring your own costs.

OP responded:

Is there an office I have to go to or someone I have to speak too? I'm so sorry, it's just all very new to me. Though surely if I'm on the title it'll revert to me, right? Or is it true that if you pay more then you "get it" so to speak as one of the claimers is arguing. I'm a bit concerned as I paid very little in comparison and all digitally as opposed to cash like the others :(

Accurate-One4451 responded:

Whoever is named at the land registry legally owns it. There are cases where the LR hadn't updated or is wrong but cross that bridge if you get there.

You can buy it online for £3. Check here for a map search.

OP responded:

Oh that's brilliant, thank you so much!

forestisgnals wrote:

This sounds very unusual and potentially fraudulent on the seller’s part. But difficult to advise without further details:

Did you use a solicitor in the purchase, and did you see/sign a TP1 (Transfer) deed? If so, did it come with a plan showing the area you’ve bought in red? And is your solicitor currently trying to register your new land at Land Registry, and what has LR said about the competing registration applications?

Did the seller use a solicitor? If so, have the other buyers who used a solicitor said what their lawyers have found out from the seller’s solicitor?

Is the developer (the seller) still involved with the nearby new build block? If so, have you contact them?

Given that some of the buyers appear to have used solicitors, I’m struggling to believe this could have been someone fraudulently impersonating the developer and pocketing everyone’s money. But it’s not impossible.

If the seller used a solicitor, it’s unlikely that solicitor would have opened themselves up to fraud charges by transferring land to multiple people simultaneously. Is it possible you’ve all instead bought portions of the land for sale, not the entire land itself?

Edited: Just saw your responses to other posters, so my points above may not be relevant any more. So I’ll just say: It sounds possible that your solicitor friend may not have got round to registering your land purchase at the Land Registry (or maybe the application got bogged down before he passed) and the registration didn’t complete.

That means you still own the land, but the central registry that shows land ownership wasn’t updated.

So it’s possible someone else at the developer thought it was still theirs to portion up and sell to others. If this is the case, you need a solicitor to iron this out and prove to the developer, and everyone else, that you own the land and their purchases weren’t valid. Did your solicitor send you a copy of the completed TP1 transfer before he passed? That will be the best proof.

OP responded:

Hi there so bit to unpack here. I'd warn that this all happened many years ago and my memories not perfect.

Yes I did, a family friend but he has since departed us. I do remember a signing deed-like document and I was shown a map of the area I was purchasing. My solicitor Herbert handled all the rest.

The seller did though I only met him once. I'm not sure in regards to the other sellers as they've all point blank refused to speak to me. Only one in an initial chat (before he cut me off) let on that he had not handled the original sale and asked to speak to my one but I told him this was all years ago.

The developer has since moved on, the phone number no longer works. I'm not sure what happened to them.

I can confirm I wasn't told I was buying portions of the land, it was always sold to me as the full garden area. As everyone else has been told.

EDIT: Admittedly I'm now a bit worried I may have been scammed because one of the claimers (not their solicitor) said to me I've probably been scammed because they paid cash whereas I paid via by bank. Will this affect my chances at all? What with all this talk about digital crime and online scams :(

IpromithiusI wrote:

Did you have a solicitor deal with the initial purchase? What does the land registry say?

OP responded:

Yes, a family friend, though he has since passed on as this was some years ago. I've no idea what the land registry says I'm afraid, I've never been privy to it and no one has mentioned it in the proceedings so far. The focus has always been on about how much money was paid/when it was paid etc.

The next day, OP shared an update.

Hello everyone! I would like to thank you for all your assistance yesterday in helping me put to bed this little saga :) The good news is that, after going on the land registry it has been confirmed the land is in fact mine and everything was done properly with everything transferred. Thankfully Herbert did his due diligence after all and everything appears above board.

I do apologise I couldn't respond to you all last night, I called my son round to help me look through my old documents in the loft to see if we could find the originals and thankfully they were there. We've made a bit of a mess but now have all the original invoices, legal documents as such as well as a bank statement from the time.

I suppose cleaning that up is my next project haha. We did nip round to the block of flats to let the people know though only two were in. The first lady seemed very upset but we gave her the contact details I was given at the time and she said she would try to pursue the company.

I can only wish her the best of luck. The second family were not very happy at all and have informed me they intend to dispute this in the courts as they still feel that as they paid the most money they're entitled to the land. I hope they see reason before they waste even more money on this :(

Oh! One thing that might be of interest to you all, I spoke to another tenant who said everyone in the building was offered the land in an "auction" and she stumped up a few thousand pounds but then the developer informed her that all the other buyers had pulled out.

She said it felt very fishy when he said it had to be done in cash and he could handle it all "in-house" so to speak to cut down on "land tax". So I suppose no solicitors or property agents involved. She said she pulled out then but assumes he pulled the same con on the others. It's very sad but I suppose you can only live and learn.

My son wants me to pursue the tenants for criminal damage but I think these people have suffered enough financial misfortune so I'd rather just let everyone move on. Nothing that a new fence and some evergrow can't fix :) Once again thank you all and I hope you all have a good week.

People kept the comments coming.

dan_gleebals wrote:

You can set up a property alert with the Land Registry for free to let you know if there is any activity on the register for the land. Possibly worth while to give you some warning if anyone is trying anything.

RNLImThalassophobic wrote:

First of all, thanks for the update - the first post was wild and my curiosity was itching. Legal advice - tell your home insurance. If you've got one neighbour who might still sue you, then that could be costly.

The last thing you want is to make a claim on your home legal cover in a few weeks if they do sue, only for your insurer to say "well technically you knew about this weeks ago and didn't tell us, so you can't claim."

purple_pumpkin007 wrote:

Congratulations. On another note, found it very alarming that the solicitors from all the other tenants has chose to keep you out of the loop and tried to tell you that you have been scammed because you paid digitally. Surely that is a bit fishy and it's not the correctly legal advice coming from a real legal person! Is there a way to report this person?

domjeff wrote:

Glad it's all sorted mate! Just like to add on top of it you seem like a really nice person, I'm sure plenty of others would go after the tenants (not wrongfully) - but big up you for thinking about their position too.

OP responded:

Thank you! And I suppose I've been around long enough to realise sometimes it's better to just move on. Everyone's already lost enough money over this.

OK-Inflation4310 wrote:

Years ago we bought a flat in a small development, some had exclusive parking in the deeds and some had shared. Except the developers had sold the same exclusive space to more than one household. As you can imagine it caused a lot of bad feelings.

We managed to get ours sorted by the fact we were the first ones to be registered. I happened to be round the same place years after we moved and ‘our’ space had a sign up with a different house number on it so heaven knows what happened there.

OP responded:

Surprised but not pleasantly to see this has happened elsewhere. I wonder how common it is? Well at least you got your parking space in the end :)

Despite all the chaos, it looks like things worked out for OP in the end.

Sources: Reddit
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