Unadopted Road 2

When you are thinking of purchasing a property, one of the things that you might consider is the road that it is situated on and whether it has been adopted by the Local Authority. Any property buyer should be made fully aware of all the legal complications that come with purchasing property along or near an unadopted road.

What is an Unadopted Road?

Unadopted roads are roads which may offer the public access but do not actually belong to the public road network. Unadopted roads are not maintained by a highway authority as defined by Highways Act 1980 and so as the Local Highway Authority has not agreed to maintain the road at the public expense, the road remains “unadopted”. There are approximately 40,000 unadopted roads in the UK.

How to Find Out If a Road is Unadopted

During the course of purchasing a property, a local authority search should be obtained as they are an essential part of the buying process. It is the second part of this search, known as the CON29, that will supply any information relating to public highways or planning decisions that could affect the property.

You can also obtain something called a “Highways Search” from the Local Authority, this provides further information on the road according to the local Council’s records, including if it is unadopted.

Who Is Responsible for Maintaining Unadopted Roads?

The condition of an unadopted road will vary depending on how well-maintained it is and the legal duty of this falls on the owner or owners of the highway. Responsibility for the cost of maintaining an unadopted road usually rests with the owners of properties which front onto such roads.

Some of the worst unadopted roads are filled with potholes, are unevenly unsurfaced, offer no drainage and have no street lighting. The Local Authority is under no obligation to pay the cost for the maintenance of an unadopted road. This can leave the owners facing a financial obligation to rectifying any issues. So, if you are thinking of purchasing a property on an unadopted road, you will need to consider any potential future financial contributions.

You can request that the Local Authority “adopt” the road, but their decision will depend on the condition of the road and any cost of bringing the road up to a suitable standard must be met by owners.

This has become an increasing issue for local authorities as they have faced cuts to their budgets and so have to ensure that they are not taking on new liabilities. It is also something which has become increasingly important with property developers failing to build new roads on housing developments to the required standard.

Who Can Use an Unadopted Road?

An unadopted road typically allows the public a right to pass, but it may also be a private street over which only some people, usually the owners, have a private right of access. Waiting to use the road to pass may be permitted, but long-term parking may be considered a “trespass” against the owner, or owners, of the road.

Residents of properties fronting an unadopted road often think, that as they own the road and pay for the maintenance, that they have some right to obstruct access. However, this is an offence, just as it would be on a public highway.

Unadopted Road Insurance

If you are thinking about purchasing a property on an unadopted road you should fully inform yourself of all the potential costs and issues that could arise. Though Unadopted Road Insurance is not a legal requirement, if your unadopted road is open for public access then it should be seriously considered as a way to financially protect yourself should the worst come to the worst. If there are multiple residents on the road, it is common for the residents to share the Unadopted Road Insurance policy.

You can call Ashburnham Insurance FREE ON 0800 1696137 and one of our helpful staff will be able to give you an instant quote for Unadopted Road Insurance over the phone.

6 Responses to Purchasing a Property on an Unadopted Road
  1. How can I have an indemnity policy to cover repairs on an unadopted road I have property on,but the road is still the property of the original landowner, should he fail to repair the road

    • You are unable to take out a policy in respect of a road that you do not own. It is solely the landowner’s responsibility to ensure their road is well maintained and if they fail to do so they could be liable for third party injury or damage costs.

  2. Hi, would it be appropriate to put a policy in place to cover repairs to the road given the failure of a builder to apply for a S.38 agreement? The builder went into liquidation late 2021 and there are 30 homes on on the one road in question. The lack of a S.38 agreement is hindering the sale of a property although other properties have sold on this road seemingly without any issue.

    • Ashburnham Insurance specialises in third party liability in respect of privately owned or unadopted roads. This would be for any injury or damage occurring to a third party in relation to the road where the owners would be responsible. There would be no cover for the road itself under such a policy and I’m not sure there is such a policy that would cover repairs to a road.

  3. Can a ltd company owning a unadopted road charge the residents that own property on the unadopted road maintenance fees. The company that own the road I live on have recently bought the road and now demanding maintenance payments?

    • It seems fair that if you are using the road for access to your property, that you pay a fair percentage towards the maintenance of the road. I would not expect this payment to be enforceable unless there is a written agreement between you and the road owners, however, the road owner could seek to legally remove your right of access if you refused to contribute. These are just personal opinions so please seek professional legal advice on this matter before making any decision.


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