Bona Vacantia Division and CPO

An empty property was owned by someone who died in 2004. Land Reg shows that a caution from the DVD Bona Vacantia Division of Government)

The Council Tax is being paid by someone who, we are informed, is the daughter of the late owner but has not applied for probate and does not respond to my letters. She is not the owner of the property, but may become an owner in the future.

We don't know how to proceed with bringing it back into occupation. If we leave it as it is, many more years could go by until the BVD take ownership. 

 

We could prepare a compulsory purchase order, but this would seem a strange thing to do against another public body.

 

Helen - Selby DC

Forums: 
CPOs

Helen

I am assuming that the land is registered with land registry, the registered owner is deceased, there is no grant of probate and the property is unemcumbered (no mortgage)

Generally, Bona Vacantia includes:

  • The estate of a person who dies intestate and has no relatives to inherit the estate.

  • Assets that were beneficially owned by a company that has been dissolved.

  • In certain circumstances, assets that were the subject of a failed trust (for example, on the dissolution of a club).

Assets that are bona vacantia pass to the Crown, except in Lancaster and Cornwall, where they vest in the Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall respectively. The Treasury Solicitor deals with bona vacantia that pass to the Crown. Bona vacantia in the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall are dealt with by Farrer & Co solicitors.

If there is a daughter, then usually Bona Vacantia will not get involved.

However, someone must have made a referral to them in the first instance.

I would need to have a look at the land registry title  (caution or restriction) to be sure what the implications are.

However, Bona vacantia will often put a restriction on title to prevent the fraudlent disposal of the property. A typical example would be

"Restriction: No disposition of the registered estate is to be completed by registration without the written consent signed by the treasury Solicitor (Bona Vacantia)

In a previous case, it was our intention to serve HA 2004 Improvment Notices and undertake some of the works in default, create a charge and enforce the sale.

We referred the matter to them and they placed such a restriction on the title.

We explained the approach and they had no objections to the course of action we were proposing. We proceeded on that basis and sold the property.

Reading between the lines they would prefer to deal with monies from the sale rather than dealing with the property. The whole BV process can take a considerable period of time.

So I would suggest that in the first instance you try and discuss the matter with the daughter. Try and visit her rather than just send a letter, if it reasonable to do so.

Do fresh land regs, death certificate and check for grant of probate - so you have the upto position. You may want to ask a tracing agent to do a family tree to see if there are any other family members that may be entitled to the estate and would be prepared to apply for probate. 

Have a chat with BV and confirm that there is a daughter in the frame. Assuming that the property is in poor condition and you can serve an appropriate enforcement notice and create a suitable debt, dicuss the option of an enforced sale.

Ensure the notices are served correctly - see previous post

An important aspect is whether the property has actually vested in BV rather than just referred. If the property has vested in the Treasury Solicitor, then they have crown immunity and therefore any notices will not be enforceable.

This would be the same position, if the property belonged to a dissolved company as it automatically vests  in the Treasury Solictor (Company Act 1985 / 2006).

If that is the case, then you will just have to let it go through the process.

If there is a mortgage, the mortgagee would still retain their rights -  where the mortgage conditions have been breached ie non payment. They could sell the property for market value, but would have to account to the TS for the excess.

Hope that helps 

Regards

Andrew Lavender

Housing Training and Consultancy

Hi Andrew,

 

Thank you that is really helpful

The wording of the Caution is below

1.(23.12.2016) Caution against first registration of the freehold estate

in land relating to the land shown edged with red on the caution plan

of the above title filed at the Registry and being {address}.

2 (23.12.2016) The statement of truth accompanying the caution states the

cautioner claims the following interest in the estate:

"The Solicitor for the Affairs of Her Majesty's Treasury ("the Treasury

Solicitor) is appointed by Warrant under the Royal Warrant dated 21st

August 1984 as nominee of the Crown for the purpose of collecting

amongst other things assets which pass to the Crown in relation to all

property rights situated in England and Wales and Northern Ireland to

which the Crown is or may be or become entitled.

In pursuance of the Land Registry GOLD 1.2.4.3.1

The Treasury Solicitor claims that he is entitled to an interest

affecting a qualifying estate.

 

Does that make it any clearer as to whether it is vested or referred?

The person we think is the daughter (pays the double council tax) is several hundred miles away and although I know she has recieved at least one letter (signed for), she does not respond.

I have emailed the BVD last month, but only had a holding email. I will see how they respond.

Enforced sale would be a better route if we are able to do it.

Kind regards

Helen