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Private right of way and the building work nightmare neighbor!?

(41 Posts)
yumiami Fri 02-May-14 15:51:15

Hi, we are trying to build a house on a plot of land which our neighbor has a right a way to their back garden.

It is not a public right of way, it is "private right of way" and it is clearly specified in their deeds and it is for vehicle and foot access. some parts of the right of way about 3m and some parts 2.5m wide.
We are building a house avoiding a right of way area.

The neighbors house is topical Victorian terrace, and the garden is about 4.5m wide 6m long. We believe they are not using the right of way access at all. But the neighbor claims they need to use it to move their garden equipment and bikes etc.

The neighbor claims we cannot temporarily block or obstruct the right of way, even for very short intervals in order to carry out our building work.

Is this correct in the legal sense ?

And they say once our builder put wheelbarrow on the right of way their solicitor would be writing us a letter!

If anyone knows any court case similar to this, please let me know.

We are sure this neighbor will try everything they could to stop our building, but we would like to know how much our building work would be interrupted with this right of way....... and how possible is it to build a house....

I would be grateful for any help on this issue.

Thanks very much.

Rosa Fri 02-May-14 15:56:06

So you own the right of way over their land - to access the building plot ?

Well surely all this should be clarified when you put your plans in? What have the council/building regs said?

If it's his right of way then it's irrelevant whether he actually uses it or not. I cannot imagine you are not allowed to put any equipment on it though as it is your plot of land, he just has the right to use it for access - it is not HIS land.

Sounds like it will be a nightmare though with him trying to stop you every step of the way - make the builders aware and make him aware you have done everything legally and have the appropriate permission so he would just be wasting his time.

Rosa Fri 02-May-14 15:56:56

Or its your land and the neighbours have a right of way over it ?

LIZS Fri 02-May-14 16:02:39

sorry but I think your neighbour is correct , you have to maintain the clear access whether they use it regularly or not. Did Planning put any conditions on the permission ?

Will be watching with interest as our ndn plan an extension but only access to the the rear of their property is via access over our land and their ndn on other side has right of access across their garden from it.

BookABooSue Fri 02-May-14 16:03:49

If your neighbour has a right of way then you can't block it unless they were amenable to it and agreed that you could do so for short periods during the building works.
Take your title deeds and go to a solicitor or a CAB.Really it all depends on the detail of your deeds. His right of way may cover the entire access or only part of it. The plan attached to your deeds should clearly show your access and his, and from there you'll be able to plan how to manage your building work.
Perhaps he's angling for you to offer to make a payment for sole use of the right of way for the duration of the building works? Or perhaps he is really resistant to you building there. You'll know which is most likely.

Pheonixisrising Fri 02-May-14 17:06:48

i think the clue is in title private right of way

you can't block it

StarGazeyPond Fri 02-May-14 17:11:07

You cannot block it if it is a right of way.

StarGazeyPond Fri 02-May-14 17:13:10

Quite frankly, I think you are setting yourselves up for years of problems. ANY right of way is a right pain in the arse! Why on EARTH, didn't you get this sorted before you started building?

wowfudge Fri 02-May-14 17:15:51

You can't block but you can use the land yourselves e.g. To temporarily put a wheelbarrow there as long as you are not blocking it. You'd have to move it if the neighbour needed access though.

Get a solicitor to look into it.

Quoteunquote Fri 02-May-14 17:37:02

Have a really good read on here, and post your query it will save you a lot of time, stress and money. (you will get some really informed advice.)

When you sat down and chatted to the neighbours before you applied for planning did you not discuss the right of way?

I only ask, as when we have this issue, it is one of the first things on the list, it can end up costly to a build if you don't work with the neighbours.

I would sit down with them and have a chat, find out what their concerns are, and find solutions, because if you don't you will be significantly add to the cost of the build.

ChelsyHandy Fri 02-May-14 17:44:25

Of course you cant block someone else's right of way! I don't really see what the problem is, just work round it.

Sallyingforth Fri 02-May-14 18:02:29

If it's your land, but they have a right of way then you can't block it but of course you can use it yourself.
I suggest you get your solicitor to write a letter explaining exactly what their and your rights are. It won't cost a fortune and could save you all sorts of grief. Give the neighbour a copy and your builders too.

Nomama Fri 02-May-14 18:09:30

You can use it and temporary blockages like a wheelbarrow are absolutely fine.

You cannot deprive them of its usage.

We have a right of way across our garden, for a neighbour to put out their bins. The previous owners built a little seating area that makes a little step for them to negotiate... they didn't mind, but should a future owner object we will have to remove it. It reduces their free access to the right of way.

However, if I am gardening and leave a rake or barrow over the right of way then they are entitled to ask me to remove it, in practice to step over, round it or to move it, but not to tell me I cannot use my land in a normal manner.

Check with your solicitor and maybe write them a letter telling them that they have right of way across your land not a right of restricting your usage of your land!

Good luck!

yumiami Fri 02-May-14 21:29:10

hello,thank you for all the reply. we will talk to our architect how it is possible not to block the right of way with the building materials etc.

unfortunately it is quite large part [about 1/3] of the land is "right of way" and we are trying to build right next to it. . . so let's see how possible to do it.

also we will ask on the gardenlaw website too, thank you for the tips.

pontypridd Sat 03-May-14 21:37:27

So, to clarify, you've bought the land but haven't discussed the ROW with your neighbours, the planning department, a solicitor or the architect? shock

I hope you're rich because this could cost you a lot of £££s.

We were in a similar position 3 years ago when we found a piece of land that we thought was perfect. It was situated between end-of-terrace houses and had been used for lock up garages.

We discovered that the two houses had a ROW, and not just a passage but a road wide enough to allow lorry access and all the way round the back of the houses. We should have walked away there and then, but we were naive and thought a cup of tea and a chat could sort it out. Well, 2 years later and a six figure sum poorer we learned some valuable lessons.

The first problem was the neighbours not wanting to give up the ROW. We persisted with the plans, believing we could win them round. The only place we could build was against the house, a party wall, but then we discovered the home owners had filed an injunction against any building until a full survey had been carried out on their wall and the effect our build would have on their foundations and house structure. This cost us a lot of money, and we would have had to pay even more to structurally secure THEIR wall before we even got near to building ours.

The next problem we ran in to was the planning department. The neighbour's house had a kitchen window at the back that prevented us building more than 1 story high. This meant plans had to be redesigned, and again, more money going to the architect.

The final problem we encountered was with the garages on the land. They all had asbestos roofing and had to be removed under licence by a specialist firm. And that wasn't cheap. More money down the drain!!!!!

I really, truly hope that you haven't bought the land already without doing all the necessary checks and end up like us – skint and distressed with a marriage under strain.

I wish someone had advised us of all this earlier, and I wish I'd never set eyes on Kevin Mcloud and Grand Designs.

And no, we don't live in our dream home on the land. After all the above, building took forever because the ROW had to be accessible at certain times in the day so the builders would just down tools and go to another job. A total nightmare – we ran out of money and will, sold the land at a huge loss and now rent because we're broke.

Good luck, but anything involving a ROW needs to be sorted long before any money changes hands sad

Andrewofgg Sat 03-May-14 21:59:40

And remember that planning permission and building regs have nothing to do with the matter. You can have p.p.and building regs approval but if there is a ROW or a restrictive covenant and your neighbours stand on their rights you can be very expensively fucked (see pontypridd's post) all the same. With respect BettySwollocks you are leading the OP astray if you think that planning permission trumps the ROW issue - it does not.

tiggytape Sat 03-May-14 22:04:59

It probably helps to put yourself in your neighbour's shoes on these issues a bit.

pony - your situation sounds awful and very upsetting but in truth, if someone decided to build a new house actually attached to one wall of my house, I'd want them to pay to make sure my house wouldn't be damaged at the very least. I'd probably be quite worried about it in fact especially if the survey showed it would need making more secure.

In OP's case, they've bought land where nextdoor probably want reassurance that the ROW is going to be maintained. It would be petty to moan about a wheelbarrow but perhaps they are worried you are trying to edge them out or will build over the bit they have rights to? Have you spoken with them and reassured them that you will minimise any problems and definitely not interfere with the ROW overall?

You seem to have hinted that if they don't use it much, you don't think it counts and they might be worried by that attitude about what might happen.

BorisJohnsonsHair Sat 03-May-14 22:05:54

It's neighboUr.

PeppermintPasty Sat 03-May-14 22:06:41

Oh god, go and see a solicitor specialising in land and property. This sounds muddled (sorry) and a potential nightmare. I'm a conveyancing solicitor and I see people for half an hour (in reality sometimes longer) free legal advice on this sort of thing. A decent solicitor local to you should do the same.

BookABooSue Sun 04-May-14 10:31:28

Peppermint is right. A solicitor is the best person to advise you not your architect. My family have a property company. We have lots of experience with these issues. You can't ignore them. You need legal advice, and as pontypridd has shown, you also need to decide at which point it becomes unviable for you.
Pontypridd flowers that sounds a complete nightmare.

yumiami Sun 04-May-14 16:56:31

pontypridd, and everyone, thank you for the message, amazingly, the land we are buying is totally similar to pontypridd's site. [yes, we have not bought it yet . .. ]

and sorry to hear your experience, sounds nightmare!

we have spoken to the solicitor/ lawyer quoted.

Yes, they'd apply for an injunction and the court will consider it without you having any say at that stage. However, the court will now give greater thought to whether or not damages would be more appropriate than an injunction. In this case, I'd say they would think they are. If the neighbours take this action, you would need to defend the claim, and ideally you need a solicitor and a barrister. However, I think you could probably appear at court yourself, to explain that the interference is immaterial.

so it sounds like its probably they can not stop the building work, but we will have to pay small amount for the damages [for not being able to use the right of way] and our solicitor/lawer fee.

We did not know if they can get injunction for the building survey. can we ask how much it did cost? [sorry to dig into your bad memory. . .]

pontypridd Sun 04-May-14 22:11:18

The total extra costs including the asbestos removal, the structural work to the neighbour's wall, the constant payments to the architects as each plan got rejected by planning and the legal fees, came to over £150,000 in the end. That's what tipped us over the edge.

If the land you are buying is similar to ours and you haven't bought it yet - I'd walk away now – seriously.

I don't see how the solicitor you've spoken to can say that the interference will be immaterial. Has he seen your 'neighbour's' deeds? How can it be immaterial if, as you said before, the right of way should be accessible at all times for a vehicle? How are they going to get access if you are building on their ROW? What if they don't accept the fee for damages?

Re-reading your OP the ROW is 3m and 2.5m wide? This isn't just a passage to take the bins out, it's a proper road. shock

This will have to remain concreted and accessible at all times when you're living there as it will still be their right of way. They'll be driving back and forth past your house every day. confused

Judging by the size of the ROW, how much land will you actually have left to use for yourself once the house is built because it sounds like there isn't much room left? Will you have any space left for a garden?

This is what lead to us selling at a loss in the end. No one wanted to buy land with a right of way through it.

Sorry to be so doom and gloom, but it sounds like a nightmare before its even started, never mind the neighbours who probably won't be your best friends if you've been to court against each other. hmm

yumiami Mon 05-May-14 14:04:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Voodoobooboo Mon 05-May-14 15:32:54

I actually have some sympathy with the neighbour having been in a similar situation. I am in a row of 4 terraces with rights of access across the back. An ongoing row between another two over dogs and (very reasonable) building works by the other means that my right of access is constantly blocked. I now have to move my bins, remove the garden rubbish, move the mower, etc through my house. The dog row also turned up in a search which meant my house sale fell through last year. If I had a tardis I would go back and apply for every injunction I could lay my hands on rather than shrugging and letting them get on with it. And it hasn't crossed any of their minds that I am in the slightest bit impacted by everything. Frankly, there are days when I would quite cheerfully sue over a builders wheelbarrow.

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