Mark Hodgson, of Midland law firm, George Green, warns of a possible threat to flat owners' parking rights.


Owners and prospective purchasers of leasehold flats across the region are being advised the check the legal status of any car parking spaces which come with their flat, as they could lose them if ownership of the flat, or of the apartment block changes, according to aleading Midlands' residential property lawyer.

The problem occurs when an exclusive parking space is granted to an owner of a leasehold flat, rather than as part of the apartment's lease.

Car parking spaces can significantly boost the value of a flat, but because of the nature of the law on parking rights, the right to park could be lost if the landlord sells the freehold, or its interest in the ground forming the parking space.

This is because at law, parking rights have not necessarily been regarded as easements, which are established as third party rights over someone else's land.

Parking rights exist only as a personal licence, that is, apersonal permission which lasts only for as long as the contract between the relevant parties exists, that is between the landlord and the tenant who originally took out the lease.

There should not be a problem if the parking space is included in the grant of the lease as part of the flat, even if this is maintained by the landlord as part of the common parts, or if the landlord has granted a right to park in ageneral, rather than an exclusive area.

The problem with parking rights granted by personal licence was highlighted by a recent Law Lords' ruling on a Scottish case, which implied that the right to park could become an easement.

This judgment was not clear cut and does not affect the law in England, but it does give some hope that the English Law Lords may amend the status of parking rights sometime in the future.

However, until then, it should be a reminder to all flat owners and those thinking of purchasing a flat, and their legal advisers, to check the status of their car parking spaces.