The difficulties with shared accessways
Shared accessways can take on many forms and can result in disputes between neighbours if the rights are not clear.
Many houses in the UK have unconventional accessways either by the design of a new property or the sub-division of an older, larger property.
Types of accessways
- One property having no driveway or accessway of their own from the main residential road, having instead a right of way over the neighbouring property’s land either on foot or by vehicle in order to reach their property.
- New build developments which have an open space at the front of houses and are not intended to be used for parking but invariably are by the residents.
- An accessway running along the back of the properties which enters one owners garden and forms part of their land.
What are your rights?
You will need to establish what legal rights you and your neighbour have over the land. For example, if an accessway runs along the back of 3 or 4 properties on the road and one neighbour would like to extend their garden out onto the accessway and put up fences, You will need to look at the title deeds and plans to ensure you are not encroaching on anybody else’s land.
There are three common rights:
- Express rights which are written into the property title deeds. These will pass down through the new owners of the property if they change over the years.
- Prescriptive rights can be created by exercising a right of way over someone else’s land continuously for a period of at least 20 years. These rights can be created with or without the landowners consent. If you can evidence the continuous use, you can apply to have the right registered against both titles.
- Granting a licence. This can be done by the landowner giving you permission to use the land by way of a licence. The landowner can terminate this at any time, and this cannot be passed onto a new owner of your property should you sell.
If you become aware that a neighbour is using land which you have a right of way over and is causing interference so you cannot use and enjoy the land you may be able to claim against your neighbour. We would suggest speaking with your neighbour and asking them to remove any encroachments they have on your land. If this is not successful, the Court can order your neighbour to stop interfering with your right of way by granting an injunction to prevent the interference from continuing.
Callie Nimki, a Trainee Solicitor in our Dispute Resolution team, said:
“You should always try to resolve neighbour disputes in a friendly way to begin with, if you are unsuccessful or if you have a bad relationship with your neighbour, Mullis and Peake are able to help with disputes of accessways.”