Access over pathway.

30 Dec 2012
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United Kingdom
We have bought a semi detached house. Along the side of ours is a path with a gate this goes down the side of house and along rear of our garden. It would appear to allow access to our attached neighbours garden.

However when we bought the property the solicitor could not find ownership of the land and the neighbours deeds do not show that they own it or have acces over it. Our deeds. Say we have a right of access over it. The solicitor said this is most probably a left over access for bin men, coal man etc as the land dates from 1908. And appears to be common in the area.

Another neighbour who is not attached to us has mentioned to me in passing about it being an access route to the attached neighbours garden, and that our property ends on our house wall. I didn't say much as I wondered if he was trying it on with me. I.e trying to show he new more.

My thoughts are a) it's nothing to Do with him as his deeds don't allow him access over it. As I checked. B) the attached neighbour also has no access rights over it. C) the land registry did not show ownership of the strip of land. Can I look at taking ownership?

I don't want to cause any issues at the mo, but am willing to go the legal route to gain ownership. It would appear to be a legacy from decades ago. I don't believe the neighbours have access as their deeds do not show this.

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There are quite a few of these private accesses around my way.

So this access is for a private land-only (not public) and appears to have been unused for many years.

On the basis that you are sure that you "do own the land" that appears to have a lapsed private right of way then you could block the access and see if anyone steps forward to complain?

Going on the similar problems that have occurred in my area - There is no point proactively taking a legal process toward ownership- you can and leave it to anyone that has retained a defensible interest in maintaining the private right of way to challenge you to restore the access (far cheaper for you)

If nobody challenges you within say 2 years (?) you can be comfortable that you are OK. If someone does challenge you you can choose to hold your position and see how much money they are willing to put on the table to defend their "right". Or just restore the access.

My mum has a similar access to hers and neighbors pathway see owns but it is written in one of the convents to allow access for the neighbor to there garden
Thanks for the replies. The issue is the deeds say it is not our land but the solicitor could not find any evidence of who does own it.

My issue is not so much the attached neighbour using it. But the fact that it is not theirs. And they do not seem to have a right of access over it. They may think they do, but don't have a have a bit of paper saying they do. I just want to make sure I have all the info
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Even if you own the land there could be a prescriptive easement that allows your attached neighbour access to their garden. This would prevent you from blocking or hindering access.

This is a guide ( but difficult to read )
The dominant is your neighbour as they can benefit from the access and you are the serviant as you have the burden of people having access over your land.

If you do not own the land then you may be the dominant as you benefit from access to the rear of your property

A small company hear here had a Fire Escape door that opened onto land owned by the house next door. When the house was sold about 20 years ago the new owner objected to company staff using the door and standing on the land for a smoke. The house owner had every right to object to the smoking. But the house owner decide to stop it by blocking the filling the pathway with plants in large pots and preventing the door from opening. The house owner claimed this was legal as there was no mention of right of way or easement or any other permission for the company to have access over the land. The company recently applied to the Land Registry for a Prescriptive Easement and that was granted. A court case requesting the house owner removes all obstructions within 14 days is in progress.

EDIT the fact that the door is also a Fire Escape does not affect the situation. It is use of the door for any lawful purpose that forms the basis for the granting of a Prescriptive Easement
Your property may end at your wall, but you appear to have a right of way over the path. As does everyone else who can prove they've been using it for donkeys years. Its very common and nothing to worry about unless someone tries to remove it or needs to repair it. In which case you would probably be liable for some of the cost.
My issue is not so much the attached neighbour using it. But the fact that it is not theirs.

It seems that your issue is the neighbour using it.

Its not your land either, so everyone as the same right to use it as you do. Just because your right is in writing, does not mean that it is the only right, or that it takes precedent.

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