Order a Commons Registration Search
Are you buying in a rural area, or accessed over open land? Get a Commons Registration Search today at a cost of £89 INC VAT.

This report will reveal whether the property is built on common land, or if any part of the grounds are affected by public right of way.

Do I Need A Commons Registration Search?

(Last Updated: 19/06/2023)
5 min read
Key Takeaways
  • If any part of your property is classed as 'common land', you cannot stop public access to it, as it's protected under the Commons Registration Act.
  • If the entire property is built on common land, the council can order its removal.
  • The Commons Registration Search costs £89 INC VAT and the turnaround time is 24 hours. Read the example report below.

What is a commons registration search?

This search is carried out to check whether any part of the land you are purchasing is registered as 'common land'. In the unlikely event that the property itself was built on common land, then its construction was illegal and the council could order its removal.

More commonly, parts of the land belonging to the property are revealed to be common land. This land will be open to public access. You cannot build on it or obstruct access by fencing it in. Fortunately, you do not have to allow vehicle access.

The local community can use common land for common purposes, such as village fetes or grazing animals.

The search will cover:

  • Whether the land or part of it is listed on the register.
  • Details of the extent, rights and ownership.
  • Unit number where land or property is registered.

Commons Registration Search

Do I need a commons registration search?

You need a commons registration search on rural land, as well as any property which is accessed via open land. It is also prudent to get a commons registration search on properties, even in rural areas, which border public greens, parks or squares, or which share common access.

What does a commons registration search cost?

Get a Commons Registration Search today at a cost of £89 INC VAT.
Report emailed within 24 hours*.

What is the history of common land & where did these rights come from?
Goose grazing on common land, public access can be discovered by a Commons Registration Search with SAM Conveyancing Before the enclosure acts (thousands of acts over 300 years) much of land in the UK was 'common'. This meant roughly what it means today: that the common people of the area shared usage of the land and held rights to do so.

Under medieval feudalism, the common land was held by the lord of a manor under feudal grant from the Crown (who owned everything). Some parts of the manor were looked after by tenants, who had appurtenant rights over that land. Some parts of the manor were looked after by the common people.

'Enclosure', meaning literally 'to fence in', was the practise of parcelling off chunks of common land into deeded or titled ownership. Sometimes, this was achieved by simply buying the land and its rights. This increased the value of the land as it meant that you didn't have to share it with the commoners.

Parliament carried out many enforced enclosures, where the common people were not paid in exchange for losing their rights to previously common land, or their livelihoods. Instead, they were (sometimes) given rights to poorer quality land with limited extent.

With farmland being enclosed, whether forced or voluntary, many small-scale farmers were without grazing and unable to get work on the larger enclosed farms which were run for efficiency, requiring fewer hands. As a result, civil resistance grew and Parliament resorted to force, which became bloody.

Enforced enclosure remains one of the most controversial areas of political history. It may be held as a major contributing factor to rural poverty at the time, driving a desperate labour force toward the growing cities to fuel the industrial revolution and widening class divides.

By the early 19th Century most of the remaining common land was either village greens, residual parcels which hadn't been gobbled up yet, or rough pasture which made poor grazing.

This excerpt from a 17th Century folk poem demonstrates the feeling of the common people at the time:

"The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from the goose."

Can I stop public access to common land on my property?

If it is registered, common land cannot be de-registered. It is protected by law, in the Commons Registration Act.

Frequently Asked Questions
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
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Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
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Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands-on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
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