Protests are gaining momentum across the country in response to thousands of letters from landowners asserting rights retained by lords of the manor when land became freehold.
The letters were triggered by last October’s deadline to register ancient rights under the Land Registration Act 2002. The Land Registry said this week that more than 73,000 claims have been made, asserting rights such as hunting, shooting, fishing and mining.
Many of those affected have sought legal advice to check on their rights, while others have lobbied MPs and local representatives for a change in the law.
Rhun ap Iorwerth, Welsh assembly member for Angelsey, said 4,000 of his constituents have received letters about manorial rights.
‘This is having a knock-on effect,’ he said. ‘We have clear evidence from numerous people who have been told they cannot get a mortgage or remortgage because the notice has been registered. People’s lives are on hold while this is sorted out.’
Residents in Welwyn and Hatfield created a website (manorialrights.org) after receiving letters from the Land Registry saying the Marquess of Salisbury had registered a claim.
A spokesman for the group said: ‘It is grossly unfair for ‘surface owners’ who bought property with due diligence, performing the various searches to find out exactly what they are buying, to then suddenly be told that the land you bought isn’t entirely what it was sold as.’
Business minister Michael Fallon told the Commons last week that the Land Registry had done what it can to explain people’s rights.
‘The fact that a notice has been entered in the register does not necessarily mean that the right claimed actually exists,’ said Fallon. ‘It is a positive development for property owners in general that such rights have to be recorded on the register.’