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Well, well, well

(104 Posts)
redbunnyfruitcake Fri 28-Jun-13 14:25:01

I've just bought a house with shared access. This is not a problem as such as the neighbour and I have equal access through each others gardens and providing the gate is closed it shouldn't affect my children's safety.

However, our utility room opens out into their garden and we will obviously use this door most of the time for convenience when bringing a pram through. The big problem is that to the side of their house they have a well. It is surrounded by a low wall but I don't yet know if it is covered. For my own sanity I will need to ask them to cover it but I do not know if I have any rights to. And knowing children as I do there will be an inbuilt fascination regarding the well so just telling them not to go near it will not be enough.

This has already given me a few sleepless nights and I have already unwittingly upset the neighbour by accidently blocking her right of way (long story) so I do not want to get into any further strife but for the sake of my children I need to address this well situation. I am a little concerned that the neighbour is a bit difficult and may refuse to cover the well hence my worry.

How do I find out about my rights regarding the well? And AIBU to ask them to cover the well? Any pointers would be helpful.

ICantRememberWhatSheSaid Sat 29-Jun-13 00:23:38

I think your best bet would be to work out how you can ensure your DC can't access the nieghbours garden unsupervised. Perhaps a self-closer on the utility door and a buzzer or alarm that operates when the door is opened.

There could be any manner of hazards in someone else's garden - dogs, poisonous plants, chemicals, hot coals from BBQ's. An uncovered well is an obvious hazard but its never going to be a good idea for your DC to be able to get into someone else's property.

I can't find any legislation but I would guess (yes it's a GUESS! ie I DON'T actually KNOW) that there is legislation to cover open wells even those on private land.????

quoteunquote Sat 29-Jun-13 00:56:38

It never a good idea to totally cover a well,

It is the old type of septic tank systems that people fall in a lot, especially the ones at the bottom of gardens that are covered with a concrete slab and have a soak away tank,

Often adults, I know quite a few people who have fallen into their own tanks, it best to have a permeant ladder, or do what the environment agency want and replace with a klargester.

drowning in your own shit, not fun.

other people property is, is exactly that,

I have a stream at the bottom of my garden, low in summer big in winter, neighbour below is next to a fast river, lots of my friends live next to beaches, but wells are hard to get out of,

most wells if you look closely below the top few feet, are an oval shape, because they had to be dug, if you think of the smallest space a man and a shovel needs to dig, the white heart in Modbury recently found a round one ,middle of the pub, now with a glass top, which means it was dug by a child/children with buckets.

wells are one of the hardest, along with septic tanks to get out of.

redbunnyfruitcake Sat 29-Jun-13 06:57:03

Oh dear Saucy Jack you really are a piece of work. If all you can do is insult people then I suggest you find someone in real life as doing it over the Internet is just a bit sad. I am glad you are such a perfect parent and thank you for reminding me of a fat, lazy, crap parent I am. As for my rights, your reaction to my question is exactly the reason I asked it. If my neighbour turns out to be anything like you then I wil need to know my legal position because despite my attempts to be a civil, polite person in life it seems that other people find that more of a struggle.

And as for my rights the Occupiers Liability Law seems to state that my neighbour does have a responsibility to keep the property safe for visitors which I guess would include my child!

Yes I could have chosen a better house but I am not worried by shared access etc I am worried about the well which I knew nothing about. The house is a bit of a nightmare but we bought it because we liked it, could afford it and once again DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT THE BLOODY WELL!!!!!

THANK YOU for all the sane people who have come on and offered constructive, polite advice. You give me faith in humanity.

formicadinosaur Sat 29-Jun-13 07:03:21

I don't think you have rights to do that. Maybe you could offer to put one on for her. It's your kids that are the issue.

Coconutty Sat 29-Jun-13 07:16:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ExcuseTypos Sat 29-Jun-13 07:17:04

I wish people would actually READ the thread or failing that the OPs posts.

Ignore the idiots OP.

colleysmill Sat 29-Jun-13 07:25:37

We dont have a well but we do have a stream that runs through on the border of our garden (about 25-30m). We moved here pre-dc and I can remember having similar worries when I was pregnant.

I appreciate wells are much deeper than our stream although it does rise and fall a fair bit (less so since the parish council changed the bridge further down stream) but it hasn't yet been an issue with ds (nearly 4) We have to have access down to it to maintain our wall and keep it clear from debris and there is a lower beach like area where you can get in it. Ds likes to fish from there but actually so far he isn't that interested in it. He is not allowed anywhere near it without an adult and so far he hasn't got down there unaccompanied and that bit is gated off.

I don't let him or another children play out unsupervised though (other children are more interested - ds is more interested in chasing ducks than feeding them) and we always keep the back door locked (keys removed as he can open doors)

LizTerrine Sat 29-Jun-13 07:45:45

I've reported SaucyJack. Unnecessarily rude.

BabyMakesMyEyesGoSleepy Sat 29-Jun-13 07:52:21

I would back out of the house. If you fall out with your neighbours it could escalate into a miserable situation. And of course your children will need to be supervised in the garden,I'm sure your neighbours won't want them trespassing. This house starting to sound like more hassle than its worth.

birdmomma Sat 29-Jun-13 07:54:55

A few years ago, a neighbour's child wandered into our garden (unsupervised and uninvited) and had an accident. She was quite badly injured. It was completely our liability, and our insurance had to pay considerable compensation, and I will probably never completely get over it. The law states that you have to make your property safe for both invited and uninvited guests, including trespassers. Well loved and well supervised children often die in neighbour's ponds and it actually is the liability of the person who owns the pond. They would be fools not to get it covered. You can take all the precautions you like, but children like to explore and take risks.

SoupDragon Sat 29-Jun-13 07:56:11

Whilst phrased badly and in an excessively rude manner, SaucyJack has a point. The simple and effective suggestion of keeping the door locked was rejected as it would be "impractical".

I want to do everything I possibly can to stop my 4 year old falling down a well and drowning

Except the simple and immediate method of keeping the door locked and putting a combination lock on the gate.

SmellsLikeWeenSpirits Sat 29-Jun-13 07:57:23

I bet it's already covered or filled in. We've lived in a couple of places with old wells. They've always been capped. It's likely this one will be too, for all sorts of reasons most people wouldn't want a 30ft deep hole exposed in their gardens

cruxible Sat 29-Jun-13 08:06:28

My friends acquired an open water butt in their garden. They often have children of all ages round but didn't consider if one peered in and slipped it woulld drown so quickly. It left me so anxious.

In the end i mentioned how dangerous and they covered it.

ExcuseTypos Sat 29-Jun-13 08:09:18

Soup keeping the back door locked is not a permanent solution.

As bird says accidents do happen.
You unfortunaltey read of children drowning in gardens every single summer. The only safe water for children is inaccessible water.

EATmum Sat 29-Jun-13 08:19:12

OP I'd find it hard to believe that any reasonable person, being asked about a potential risk in their garden, wouldn't want to do everything they could to minimise it. As birdmamma said, you are liable for your own property, and case law specifically recognises that children are curious and ingenious, so there's a higher burden where children may have access (Admittedly I'm dredging this up from law study some years back and don't remember the name of the case, but it involved a lion's enclosure at a circus.)
I really hope you get a positive response from your new neighbours - especially if you're willing to contribute to the cost. What issue could there be to not welcome it?

lachrymavitis Sat 29-Jun-13 08:23:58

You can keep the door locked when you are inside your property which means your child cannot get out without supervision. My children went through a phase of opening the front door by themselves and I had to then keep it locked whenever we were indoors.

I understand your anxiety but I do also think it is your responsibility to supervise your children and to safe-proof your property as much as possible. It does seem like the only option you are considering involves the other property.

birdmomma Sat 29-Jun-13 08:35:37

Children keep having accidents well past the age that they can open locked doors. When her child is 7 or 8, and maybe has some friends round for a play date - that's when it will seem like a really good time to stand on the well and chuck things down it.

birdmomma Sat 29-Jun-13 08:36:59

I used to be quite flippant about child safety (I now realise), but having a child nearly die in front of you really does sharpen up your health and safety responses.

Dorange Sat 29-Jun-13 08:39:05

My dd nearly drowned at her swimming lessons and the teacher didn't notice it, luckily dh was there to save her. It is a renowned swimming school. OP, you like the house and is the one you can afford, don't get discouraged. Visit your neighbour, go without children if you can, be lovely, tale them homemade biscuits, and have a nice chat. Even if they cover the well you are going to have to be very strict and consistent with your DC regarding them not trespassing their property however lovely your neighbours turn out to be. And obviously taking safe measures at your on door. Children can respect boundaries. Good luck and keep us posted.

BriefcaseOfFacts Sat 29-Jun-13 08:39:54

I can't see why any reasonable person would say no to your request! If you offer to pay, make it a grill that you can't see unless peering into the well, they'd be mad to say no. Personally if I had the choice of having the option of having a child potentially drown on my property or the offer a free solution to the problem I know what I would choose!

Have faith OP, having access blocked is very irritating, it may just have been an old wound you poked by accidentally blocking it (I have lived in a property where my neighbour frequently blocked me in and it drove me absolutely insane), your neighbours are probably perfectly reasonable otherwise!

Hope it all works out smile

Sunnysummer Sat 29-Jun-13 08:41:01

As pointed out up thread.. I dimly remember from law lectures that you are required to make your land safe for even unasked visitors (something to do with a trespasser getting hit by a collapsing chimney and the landowner still being liable). It is definitely worth contacting your local citizens advice bureau or even a local solicitor with land law experience, just so you have an idea of where the law stands, before you start further discussions.

Your offer to pay for a cover sounds very reasonable, I hope that it goes well!

learnasyougo Sat 29-Jun-13 08:45:14

locks and supervision are no replacement for making that well safe, imo. One single momentary lapse (or a visitor leaving the door open, or deliveries being made, or a dodgey closing mechanism, or this or that or something else, all could lead to the avoidable death of a child. yet there is one very simple solution (it's not as if the well us in use ffs) of covering the well.

Ti those who think resolving on better supervision or locks are the answer, just look at the drowning stats in australia before and after it was made law to have pools fenced and child-proof gates fitted.

I think most neighbours would agree to your paying for a nice cover for their well if small children are around.

Llareggub Sat 29-Jun-13 08:51:38

My 4 year old can unlock doors. There's nothing as inquisitive as a 4 year old. They have no sense.

Triumphoveradversity Sat 29-Jun-13 08:53:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LIZS Sat 29-Jun-13 08:53:36

yabu, shared access is not free access and to allow your dc to freely go in and out over neighbours property is likely to be intrusive, regardless of the well issue. What if they left the gate onto the road open , would you expect them to stop them escaping if you had let them out to play? If you have any other doors accessing directly into the garden use those unless you are accompanying them out. Otherwise keep it and the adjoining gate locked with the bolts , locks etc well out of reach.

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