Access to your neighbour's land
Posted on 4th September 2023 at 17:02
Do you a have a right to enter your neighbours land?
I get more calls about this subject than I care to remember and so hopefully this will set out the mechanisms when you have a right of access/entry to your neighbours land, and vice versa.
There are essentially four ways to gain access/entry to your neighbours land to carry out work on your property.
1. Right of access in the title deeds
The title deeds may include a right of access on neighbouring land to allow you to do certain things, such as maintenance to you property. If there is no such right that runs with the property you will need to rely on one of the other three methods. You really need to check the first conveyancing documents of your property but sometimes the land registry title may state if there are any appurtenant rights.
2. Work carried out under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
If you are proposing to carry out any work pursuant to the above Act, you have a right of entry under section 8 of the Act, subject to serving a valid notice under section 8. This will typically allow you for example, to access the adjoining owner's roof so you can raise the party wall, access to the garden if you are building a wall on the line of junction, or as the Act states, "to remove any furniture or fittings or take any other action necessary..." . Your surveyor should be able to advise you on your specific access/entry rights under the Act but the short of it is, if you not carrying out notifiable work set out in the 1996 Act, you have no right of entry under section 8 of the Act.
3. Express permission by neighbour.
So now you have read your title deeds to find out there is no right of access on the neighbours land, and you have established that pointing the gable end of your property is not work pursuant to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, so you ask him politely if you can enter his land to put up a scaffold or ladder so you can work on your gable end or paint the fence for example. Your neighbour declines to let you on his land. That is that, no permission, no access to clean your gutter or paint the barge boards. If you decide to ignore your neighbours refusal to enter his land and you decide to do it anyway when he goes out, your neighbour could bring an action for trespass against you even if they have not sustained any actual physical damage. I cannot emphasise this enough, you cannot just walk on your neighbours land unless you have permission one way or another.
4. Access order under the Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992
Your gable end is in serious need of repair work and all other avenues to gain access have failed. You last remaining option is to apply to the court for an Access Order. Courts only grant Access Orders for maintenance and repair or to cut back a dying tree for example. If you think you can successfully apply for an Access Order so that you can build your new extension, think again. An Access Order may come with strict conditions and payment of compensation to your neighbour for interference or disturbance in the use or enjoyment of their land. Before attempting to go down this route, you should take advice from a lawyer who has experience in this matter.
So, there you have it. If you call me up to ask about access/entry to your neighbours land, I can only repeat what I have stated above, no exceptions.
If you want to build your extension wall 200mm from the boundary line, bear in mind that you may never see the face of that wall again or access the 200mm gap, unless your neighbour gives you permission to go on his land.
Tagged as: Access Order, Access to Neighbouring Land Act, Rights of access, section 8 rights, Trespass
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