Buying and Selling Country Property – Curtilage Issues

One of the many issues faced by both buyer and seller of country properties is that of what constitutes the ‘domestic curtilage’ of the property. In planning terms, domestic curtilage is outdoor space which is incidental to the enjoyment of the house.

In many cases, this might be easily determined by the presence of a clearly defined garden, surrounded by a perimeter hedge or wall. However, with many older and/or larger properties, the judgement of what area is your domestic curtilage is less than clear cut.

Why is this important?

Difficulties arise when then extent and boundary of a domestic curtilage is not readily identifiable. This is often the case with Country property. The domestic boundaries may have evolved over time, as owners adapt their land to suit their needs and have not realised the need for planning permission.

This causes problems when selling the property and also has implications for certain tax reliefs from HMRC.

When prospective purchasers want to realise their dream county home, by making use of permitted development rights or by seeking planning permission for additional buildings in the grounds of a house (e.g. home office or gym), understanding the extent of the curtilage is vital to understanding what is, and more importantly what is not, possible without engaging with the planning process.

We are advising a number of parties about the extent of domestic curtilage and the planning opportunities it presents from both a buying and selling perspective and would be happy to discuss this in more detail with you.