Adopted and Unadopted Roads – Highways

adopted and unadopted roads

When you purchase a property, your solicitor will carry out a number of searches. The Local Authority search will indicate whether the road that fronts your property is adopted by the Local Authority. You should be cautious of this when you purchase your property, especially with recently built homes as often the roads serving those properties will be unadopted.

The difference between adopted and unadopted roads:

| Adopted Road

What does it mean if the Local Authority Search indicates that the road fronting your property is adopted? This means that the road is a publicly maintained highway. It is the responsibility of the authority to maintain and repair the road. You will automatically have a right of way over the road.

| Unadopted Road

So what happens if the Local Authority Search indicates that the road fronting the property is unadopted? This means that the road is not a publicly maintained highway. Therefore, the local authority is under no obligation to maintain and repair the road. The owners of the properties fronting the road bear responsibility for the costs of maintaining and repairing the road.

Therefore, before purchasing a property you should check the condition of the road. Are there many potholes and does the road have poor drainage? If you do not carry out these checks, you could end up spending unexpected large amounts of money to rectify issues with the road. You would need to make enquiries with the neighbours to find out what the maintenance arrangements are and whether the current owners of the property had ever been called upon to contribute towards the upkeep. In addition, the local authority may in some instances repair the road. However they will send the bill to the properties fronting the unadopted road.

The other important point to note is that with unadopted roads there is no automatic right of way. Your solicitor will need to carefully check the seller’s title deeds and possibly make enquiries with the local authority to ascertain that adequate rights are in place.

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