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Deeply unpleasant neighbour with right of way over our land.

(139 Posts)
05884124807521689064216a Tue 30-Jun-20 23:09:02

Sorry this is in the wrong topic. Couldn't find a legal section. Any lawyers about, I would appreciate some guidance. Having difficulty finding the right person as it involves mild harassment and a right of way. I've tried to condense but it's clearly not my strong point.

We recently moved into a home accessed by a lane belonging to a farmer. We have access over the farmer's part of the lane and he has right of way over the part of the lane on our land. It's the only way he can access the fields at the end of the lane. The lane ends on our land, with a field. The farmer ceremoniously drives up the lane every Sunday afternoon and reverses slowly back, without acknowledging us. Strange but fine. Beside our home is a cottage belonging to the farmer. It's occupied by a tenant of the farmer who is 'warden'. Technically he also has access over our land because he 'cares' for the land. (He doesn't care for the land, didn't care for the horses there over the winter and never needed to go down this lane until the weather got nice enough for walks, but that's beside the point). This warden seemed over-involved from the start and he's clearly lonely. He generated drama by encouraging us to go into one of the farmer's fields for a walk, then making out we were in trouble because we had done this. There were variations on this theme and we realised it was just drama being generated by someone who likes drama. Eventually we told him we would communicate directly with the farmer in future and we backed off. Then the trouble began.

We have to walk/ drive past his home to get to the road. He allows his dog to intimidate my children (who love dogs so this was quite difficult to achieve), rushes out with weedkiller if we walk down the lane, stands waiting for me at the top if I'm out on my own, throws our wheelie bins over the hedge and eventually blocked the lane completely with his car one night to rant at my partner. Much swearing, vague threats and apparently he has a side we don't want to see and we should feel warned. We haven't dealt with this before in our lives and yes, we felt threatened and worried.

He walks into the trajectory of my car when I drive past and then uses his outrage (because I don't slam the brakes on - why would I when he's not on the path?) to come and rage at us in front of the children as we're getting out of the car. He will 'accidently' swerve his wheelbarrow into our path as I'm walking the children up the lane. It seems mostly a cry for attention. He will now go and stand in our lane to have a smoke, just because he can. It doesn't sound like much and we've established that there's not enough here for police or civil action. Someone has mentioned a 'binding over of the peace' - does that sound like a possibility? We have horses, small children, dogs that could easily be harmed. I'm concerned he'll do something to my children's ponies and break their hearts. We found an elastic band around the neck of our dog the other day that had to be cut off by the vet and while it was probably our own fault, I hadn't seen that elastic band before. It's reached the point where we're quite happy for him to vandalise the wheelie bins if it keeps him occupied but obviously it's escalating because we continue to be a happy family going for walks and not bowing to him as monarch of the lane. I feel extremely stressed knowing he can pop up anywhere on our land and he doesn't stick to the lane, either. There's no point putting up a gate because he can just walk through it, as warden. He has also announced that if we meet his car when we're driving up the lane, we must reverse out onto the main road again if he's more than halfway up it. Sounds fair enough but the opening is on a blind corner that needs a mirror to get out with, even going the right way. I will not be reversing out of it but I'm concerned he'll scare the children and force us to abandon the car in the lane if we do meet him (it hasn't happened yet because he never goes anywhere).

So we're spending a fortune on CCTV, as the police advised, and keeping a harassment diary. We'd like to build a stone wall around the front of our property. It would be around 8 foot high and would border the part of the lane we own (which we're happy to write off for the sake of peace). It would cut off a great view but at this point, the only view we have is this man striding around anyway. I just want it all to stop. We spoke to the farmer to try and resolve this without a result. My partner has a condition that makes him vulnerable to COVID-19 if he's experiencing a flare-up and as these are related to stress, we'd like to move on from this issue as quickly as we can.

My questions:
* If you have right of way over a property for the purposes of caring for the land beyond, can you go there just to loiter and have a smoke?
* Is there a legal process whereby a judge could order that the lane be used for the purposes of accessing the land beyond only and not for going back and forth over our land (as he is currently doing)?
* Is there any legal reason why we wouldn't be able to build an 8 ft stone wall bordering the land on our own land? There would be no dwelling near it except our own home (and the warden's cottage, which is link detached to our farmhouse).
* Minor side issue - is the farmer within his rights to drive a half wild stallion up? He clearly can't get a headcollar on it and just drives it in front of him, at a gallop, from his quadbike. Without a heads up. Did I mention we have young children.

I'll continue to hunt for the right solicitor to help with this but everyone seems to have experience of either right of way or harassment, but not both.

Thanks so much if you have read this far.

OP’s posts: |
Honeyroar Tue 30-Jun-20 23:24:28

Oh you poor things, he sounds a weird nightmare. I assume you’ve already spoken to the police from your harassment diary etc. I think your CCTV is a good idea (id put lots of cctv warnings up to put him off too, and try and have some pointing towards your ponies). I’d also speak to a solicitor. We had a problem with my mum’s neighbour. While we spoke to the police a few times (the neighbour called them) nothing much was done, however when we sent a letter to the neighbour from a solicitor telling them to cease the harassment it did seem to work. In your case I’d send a copy to the farmer too.

I think they probably are allowed to loiter on the access lane. I can’t see why you can’t build a big wall in your own land. As for the stallion, does he at least warn you when he’s going to move it?

Bloody weird some country folk. Think they enjoy being cantankerous old nutters. (and I’ve lived in the country all my life).

MrsMcCarthysFamousScones Tue 30-Jun-20 23:27:41

We found an elastic band around the neck of our dog the other day that had to be cut off by the vet and while it was probably our own fault

It was not-how could you be expected to notice something you would never expect to be there?
I have no advice, I’m just horrified that you have to put up with all that. What a nasty man.
I hope someone comes along who can help soon.

Cherrysoup Tue 30-Jun-20 23:28:22

You dedo need a solicitor specialising in land issues. He’s just being a twat and I gather the farmer is no help. Log everything and yes, you do have enough to go to the police, please do!

Binkalater Tue 30-Jun-20 23:29:26

Crikey. I'm sure someone will be along with some legal advice soon but that sounds like a total nightmare. It annoys me when people say 'just move' because it's hardly like that's an easy option, but in this case I think I would seriously consider it. He sounds utterly unhinged. The stress of worrying about the safety and well-being of animals and children would be too much for me and I imagine any legal action would be long and drawn out.

Vodkacranberryplease Tue 30-Jun-20 23:33:21

If you do not own this house move. Now. These people ruin lives and do not stop. Absolutely nothing you do will help. He will take cctv of you, make complaints about you and the police will just be left wondering what the hell is happening. He's absolutely insane.

BillBaileysBum Tue 30-Jun-20 23:33:37

As well as CCTV I would do a dash cam in your car and wear a body camera when out and about.

Would the farmer help at all?

dontdillydallytoolong Tue 30-Jun-20 23:38:07

I would be speaking to a countryside lawyer, who specialises in rural affairs. You may decide at the present time not to go any further with what you find out, but you would find out the options available to you in the future and it may ease your stress.

Honeyroar Tue 30-Jun-20 23:38:09

Yes dash cam is a good idea. Is the lane on your land or theirs? Is there anywhere for a passing place?

Are there any other neighbours around? They probably have similar issues and might be a source of support.

Would it be worth joining the BHS or Countryside alliance. You can quite often get legal helplines through them (definitely through the BHS) who would be more clued up on country issues.

Everything1sFine Tue 30-Jun-20 23:38:51

Having been in a similar if nothing worse situation myself, my advice is move. Or kill him.

He’s not going to stop because he’s not thinking like you and I. It took me a year to realise I was never going to change our neighbours behaviour. The police were pathetically hopeless. And useless. Our neighbour repeatedly broke the law in quite spectacular fashion but apparently it was not in the public interest to prosecute.

So then we used the ignoring them method. The more we didn’t take any notice of his behaviour the more outrageous he became. For example he bought a dog and called it a racial slur so he could stand outside our window or in his garden and shout it at our children.

You can’t ‘win’ if the other party is off their rocker and it’s no way to live.

Seeingadistance Tue 30-Jun-20 23:48:28

Sorry, OP, but I agree with others that it would be better to move away. Issues like this are not easily resolved, and are much more likely to get worse rather than better. It’s no way to live.

My advice is to cut your losses, and get out before this escalates.

PolPotNoodle Tue 30-Jun-20 23:54:11

Not a lawyer, only studied it - @collaborate and @prh47bridge might be of more help.

1) right of access I believe is usually the right to "pass and repass", which by and large means you walk across the servient land (your land in this case) to your property and back again. No stopping, no fannying about. You will need to check your deeds for exact wording however.

2) that generally is what a right of access is anyway (as above)

3 & 4 couldn't confidently tell you.

Bear in mind that you probably won't find a solicitor that deals with both as they are different areas of the law, you would be better off finding a firm that deals with both land and crime issues but may have different colleagues dealing with the matters.

Flyingagainstreason Tue 30-Jun-20 23:56:01

Move
I can’t see any other option, before it escalates and you can’t sell because of the crazy neighbour
Or kill him - but that’s hard work

NewtonPulsifer Tue 30-Jun-20 23:58:49

Did the previous people move to get away from neighbour from hell? If so, and they had lodged police and council complaints about him but failed to tell you you may have some redress. Try and find out and mention when you find the right lawyer.
Report your own post and ask MNHQ to move to Legal Matters
www.mumsnet.com/Talk/legal_matters

Puzzledandpissedoff Tue 30-Jun-20 23:59:47

If you do not own this house move. Now. These people ruin lives and do not stop. Absolutely nothing you do will help. He will take cctv of you, make complaints about you and the police will just be left wondering what the hell is happening. He's absolutely insane

This in a nutshell ^^

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow1 Wed 01-Jul-20 00:00:05

The elastic band around your dogs head sounds really frightening. How do you think that band got there?

Agree with the others though, just move. Hope it's rented.

Vodkacranberryplease Wed 01-Jul-20 00:01:28

@Everything1sFine Having been in a similar if nothing worse situation myself, my advice is move. Or kill him.

Ha I so nearly said this. A bit of digitalis in his coffee and no one roils suspect a thing 😉

Flyingagainstreason Wed 01-Jul-20 00:01:40

Yeah dogs don’t put elastic bands round their own heads. They just don’t.
This kind of psycho has too much time on his hands.

Haretodaygonetomorrow Wed 01-Jul-20 00:07:00

Another vote to move if you can. People like him aren’t rational and they won’t stop.

Summer8900 Wed 01-Jul-20 00:14:25

This is terrible. I am so sorry for you.
I have a great litigation solicitor who specializes in land disputes. We hired him last week to help us with easement/awful neighbors/land disputes/right of ways. I don’t know how to PM here but get in touch if you need his details.

CaffeineInfusion Wed 01-Jul-20 00:14:44

If you are renting... Move.

If you are mortgaged, consider moving. But it's costly.

Or ignore him. Smile and wave. Nod and keep walking.

Ignore the smoking, don't cut off the view with a wall. Come winter he might decide to just stay indoors anyway. But do speak to someone about relieving him of the role of warden.

In my experience, cctv is a waste of money. The police will be sympathetic, but ultimately useless. Court orders are expensive and short lived.

Its no fun living next door to a knob. I'd move if I could. But as I can't afford it, I just leave some pots and bits in my front garden. We call them the toys. He thinks he's being clever moving them or knocking them over. We call it containment, for now.

SynchroSwimmer Wed 01-Jul-20 00:15:19

Could you contact the local PCSO - and get them to pop round to your property? Just the presence and sight of a police vehicle on your land might get the perpetrators to re-think what they are doing?

cabbageking Wed 01-Jul-20 00:20:12

You need to check the deeds. They usually say to right pass and repass.

Check your council 're the wall and distance from the road. You may find there are limits of 6ft height for fences and walls but not for hedges.

Vodkacranberryplease Wed 01-Jul-20 00:26:01

Another thought here - and I could be wrong - is that if you bought and there's been disputed with him the previous owners could have been obliged to disclose that. So you could be entitled to the cost of your move back out again.

I wouldn't want children, pets and horses anywhere near this maniac. And the farmer is not going to help.

If you think the law will stop him you are wrong. There must have been previous complaints do find out what you can - he may be known to police etc.

NellieEllie Wed 01-Jul-20 00:28:32

This sort of stuff is a nightmare. At some point it sounds like this will amount to criminal offence of harassment - wheelbarrows, yelling abuse etc. No doubt that’s why the police have advised keeping a diary.
A “right of way” is generally just that. You’re not entitled to loiter, just move from one place to another (eg www.carruthers-law.co.uk/news/right-of-way-only-used-for-the-purpose-it-is-granted/)
But taking civil action for that would be very costly.

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