Permitted rights of way - anyone know a bit about the rules??

(13 Posts)
DorsetLass Thu 10-Oct-13 23:20:26

We own a house that has a permitted right of access to the sea 50 metres from us. It is a right of access that we share with 28 other houses where we live - its got a locked gate that we are all key holders to. The land is actually owned by a very large expensive house next to it - which has recently been sold. The new owners want to replace the gates, get new keys for everyone, and have very adamantly expressed the view that for anyone to use the path they will need to pay for the new key, and contribute to the public liability policy they feel us necessary to use the path.. Are they allowed to do this? They also want to close the path for repairs this winter (it doesn't need any). I think I will need to get some legal advice with our over nighbours - but any advice very welcome!

mineofuselessinformation Thu 10-Oct-13 23:30:08

I don't think they can withhold access. Could you and your neighbours get together and get some legal advice? For a tenner each you could probably pay for a solicitors consultation and a letter to be sent. In your shoes, I would suspect that the closure for maintenance is actually an attempt to close the access permanently.

mineofuselessinformation Thu 10-Oct-13 23:31:16

And as it's their land, the only people liable for public insurance are them.

DorsetLass Thu 10-Oct-13 23:36:19

I agree completely with you - I thi k I need to knock on a few doors tomorrow and see what we can do. It's such a shame as its the main reason we bought our house - and adds a fair a punt of value. DH away so I will have to deal with!!

Beamur Thu 10-Oct-13 23:39:13

Check your deeds. You can check theirs too as they will be registered with the Land Registry if the property has recently sold.
I very much doubt they can put these new restrictions in quite so easily, but you may need a solicitor to put the right words back to them.

DorsetLass Thu 10-Oct-13 23:45:38

Thanks Beamur - do you know if you have to pay for copies if other properties? Good advice.

DorsetLass Thu 10-Oct-13 23:46:25

Sorry of other properties - thumbs too big for iPhone!

IrisWildthyme Thu 10-Oct-13 23:47:30

The permitted right of way is exactly that - you have the right to use that path at all times. It is their choice to put a gate on it (and if they do so, they have to provide keys to everyone who has a right of way) but they are not obliged to do so so you should not be obliged to contribute the cost of a new key. Likewise it is they, as owners of the land, who have liability and can protect themselves with insurance, so no you shouldn't be asked to contribute to this either. As mine says I think you may need to club together with neighbours for a solicitor, but be wary of doing this immediately - remember that if this escalates into a dispute then when you come to sell your house you will have to declare a dispute, which could affect the sale.

HansieMom Thu 10-Oct-13 23:55:15

They knew all this when they bought the house, that 28 neighbors had right of way, that liability insurance over their land is their problem.

Word of caution. Just spoke to DH (who is involved in issues like this in a professionl capacity) and he said that it will depend on your/the big house's deeds. He said if the deeds pre-date the 'invention' of gated access and public liability insurances, then it will be a matter for the courts to decide, and in this day and age it might not be seen as an unreasonable condition.

It seems unlikely they would have made such an aggressive move withiut having taken any legal advice...

IrisWildthyme Fri 11-Oct-13 07:15:04

How necessary is this gate by the way? I was on holiday by the sea recently and regularly walked along a path between some posh large houses and a stretch of private beach in order to get to the public beach beyond. The private beach had one entry which didn't have any physical barrier, just a notice saying "private beach" and another which had a simple front-garden-gate type thing with no lock, just up to waist-height. Given that presumably (depending on geography) anyone could access the beach beyond the gate simply by swimming there from the next bit of public beach along, or even walking there at low tide, is the gate actually adding value to anything other than the landowner's vanity?

Beamur Fri 11-Oct-13 19:22:40

I think you can search online for Land Registry information, I'd expect to pay a modest charge.

DorsetLass Fri 11-Oct-13 22:49:20

Thank you all for your advice. The cause has now been taken up by several of the neighbours - one of whom thankfully is a solicitor. The owner of the new house has managed to upset everyone he has spoken to - quite a good effort! As its stands we do not have to pay any public liability just as some of you advised - and he has no right to block any access - if repairs are required he has to write to all people concerned first. an annoyance that has to be dealt with I think is the best way to view it. Thanks again for all your advice - will see how we get on!

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