Harbour Rights: a major factor in the value of your home

The increased value of any harbour side property means that commensurate attention now has to be paid in all transactions to securing the entitlement to the use and enjoyment of the adjoining harbour, in circumstances where other competing organisations or authorities are increasingly looking to exercise sole control.

In Medieval times, the rights and entitlements to land below the mean high water mark were traditionally enjoyed by the Crown (save only where the Crown had previously specifically granted those rights to a local Lord to enjoy as part of the rights of the local Manor).  The Crown is now essentially represented by the Crown Commissioners, and as such the Commissioners continue to exercise ownership and control over large areas of the coastal belt.  That does not however mean that properties adjoining the high water mark do not enjoy specific common-law rights in respect of the foreshore, which rights were created and enjoyed many hundreds of years before the first Law of Property Statutes came into play, to some extent rolling back those common-law rights.

Notwithstanding this, those rights still endure for the benefit of adjoining properties, and include (where appropriate) the right to place or retain moorings, jetties and mud berths, all of which are now of increasing commercial value given the relatively recent explosion in the popularity of sailing as a leisure activity, and the consequent and hitherto only upward pressures this has placed upon the charges for moorings and other such facilities in those areas.

The purchase of any waterside property therefore needs to reflect the value and importance of these rights, and all too often this is simply overlooked or disregarded by conveyancing firms with little insight or understanding of such matters.

With property prices on the South Coast ever increasing, professional valuation evidence suggests that the availability as of right of a deep-water mooring or even a relatively humble mud mooring, will add anything up to 25% to the value of the property. Lose such a mooring or other entitlement through clumsy conveyancing practices, or simply neglecting to exercise such rights for the requisite periods, will proportionately reduce the value of the property. As they say, use it or lose it!

If you are therefore involved in any form of marine development, whether simply extending your own property or creating a new harbour side development, ensure that you get expert advice from people who know what is involved, and that way you will not run the risk.


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