Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life: Melissa Kite

Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life: Melissa Kite

Article excerpt

The problem holding up my house move turns out to be a wiggle. Have you ever had a wiggle? It sounds jolly enough but, believe me, you don't want to go there. If you have a wiggle in your garden, you had better be prepared for the worst.

I had no idea about this wiggle, because when I bought the flat I only had my lawyer scrutinise the Land Registry documents to a normal degree, which is to say I asked him if everything was broadly all right, and when he confirmed that it was I told him to proceed.

I have lived in the flat quite happily since 2002 and I have never had any trouble at all with the boundary lines.

I fix the garden fencing one side, the neighbour takes care of the other. The fence to the right, which is my neighbours', does rather bend and groan under the strain of the creeping ivy and it needs redoing, in truth. But as it's still standing and perfectly functional I really can't be bothered to make a song and dance about it. Halfway down, where I keep a barbecue, the fence line sort of juts slightly into his garden. It wiggles. Then it goes straight again.

The wiggle gives me an extra few square feet of garden. I have never noticed the wiggle very much or thought that deeply about it. As the wiggle favours me, it has never occurred to me to scrutinise the Land Registry documents to verify the wiggle's official status. What could possibly be gained by this?

During the time I have lived in the flat, two owners have owned the next-door property and neither of them has ever questioned the wiggle either, despite the fact that the wiggle deprives them of a few square feet of garden.

They seemed, and still do seem, oblivious to the wiggle. But not so the purchaser of my flat. She has instructed her lawyers, apparently, to subject every detail of this transaction to the sort of conveyancing rigour you would expect during a multibillion pound property deal involving a mansion block on Knightsbridge. As such she is asking me some pretty searching questions about the wiggle. Am I aware, her lawyers ask my lawyers, that the wiggle in the fence line is not reflected in the drawings of the property at the Land Registry? That's right. There is no wiggle where the coloured marker pen depicts the boundary. …

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