I bought a car space in a MUD, however the OMC  had been handed over this area

July 2013

Question

In July 2009, I bought an additional car space in a multi-unit development from the developer. It now transpires this space, among others, was handed over to the owners’ management company effective from 2006 as part of the common-area transfer obligation, but it was not registered to the management company until 2010. My solicitor, as a result, could not have been aware of this potential double ownership.

I believe the developer had no right to sell the car space in 2009, and is it possible a fault attaches to the developer’s solicitor who handled the sale? I have raised a complaint with the Law Society but it won’t handle the matter unless it is done through a solicitor.

Have you any advice please?

Answer

When a developer transfers the ‘common areas’ of a multi-unit development to the owners’ management company they are usually transferring the entire freehold with the benefit of the long leases granted to each apartment owner.

The title for each apartment is created only when it is sold for the first time and registered. Car-parking spaces can be treated in different ways in order to grant an exclusive right to park and can often be by way of licence agreement or lease.

In a development where car spaces are designated to owners and they have a specific and exclusive right to park in a particular space, it is unusual that the owners’ management company obtains the benefit of any spaces as part of the transfer, unless such spaces were identified as visitor spaces in planning permissions or other documentation. However, it is not unusual in circumstances where there are surplus spaces with little demand for them. A developer may transfer them with the freehold rather than create separate title for them possibly attracting a service-charge liability.

In your situation, it may be that there was a genuine mistake in the original transfer from the developer and that the inclusion of the car space was not intentional and that its beneficial ownership should have been reserved by the developer.

Presumably you have enjoyed the use of the space since 2009 and that the question over title has only just arisen. I would recommend that you engage a solicitor and liaise with the solicitor for the owners’ management company to resolve the matter, examining the title in both transfers before pursuing the matter further.

Paul Mooney is a chartered surveyor and member of the Property & Facilities Management Group of the MediKids