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  • Writer's pictureDean Pattison

Property Investment Tips.....Wayleaves & Easements

Wayleaves & Easements

Are you aware that the requirement for a wayleave or easement on a utility installation can cause delays to your project?

A wayleave is a right of way which is granted by a private landowner and an easement is a legal right to occupy or use another person’s land for specific purposes. In this case, a wayleave or easement may be required when laying pipe or cable through private land.

Such rights are requested to enable the 24-hour maintenance of utility infrastructure should there ever be an instance of a leak or cable fault.

Why is this a factor on lead times?

  • In many cases, a utility installer will not even begin to plan an installation until they have been notified that the legal process has been completed.

  • There is no statutory lead time for the completion of a legal process and the documentation will only clear as quickly as the legal representatives operate.

Our experience suggests that three months is a common timescale for the completion of an easement however we have also experienced cases where we have been quoted that the process may take up to a year.

Last year, one statutory provider confirmed to us that most of their legal representatives had been subject to furlough during the pandemic phase and that they had a significant backlog of paperwork to catch up on. This made the process even longer than what we would normally experience and unfortunately generated delays for the investor. As the easement had to pass through a third party’s land, they insisted that a twelve-month timescale would be likely. On completion of the easement, there was the traditional 6-8 week lead time for mobilisation.

Our advice to an investor would be as follows:

  • Check your utility quotations carefully. Take time to understand if a new main is being installed rather than just a service. If a main has to be installed and it is being adopted by the incumbent network or an independent network, then a legal agreement is likely.

  • If in doubt, ask if the infrastructure will need a legal agreement.

  • Always consider the impact of an easement when you are speaking to funders about timescales and completion.

Sometimes, this may result in you making utility related payments earlier than you had planned but remember that by understanding such timescales, you are ahead of the game and will mitigate costly delays at the back end of your project.

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