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Need access to the outside of house for essential work via neighbours garden

(27 Posts)
ClaireH26 Sat 01-Apr-17 14:28:24

We are about to begin renovating a house, no work been done since 70's, needs new roof, new windows, plumbing, electrics, whole shebang. Our house is strange, old municipal building made into 3 properties. Our property is right angles to next door like an L shape, our windows look onto their private garden. To access the outside of a whole side of our house we need to enter their garden.

The work is due to begin next week and we will need to put scaffolding up the week after. The tenant in the adjacent property is refusing to give access for the scaffolding. The owner lives overseas and we only have an email address for him, we have emailed but not heard anything back. We will be contacting solicitors on Monday but I am wondering if there is any legal minds who know whether we have the right to access our house to do essential works even if it means using someone else's land to do so?

We actually should have access to the light well into our basement which we cannot access as the neighbours garden is fenced off. The next door tenant is refusing to now respond to calls, texts or requests to meet in person to discuss. All I have had is one arsy text to refuse access and no further contact. What should we do?

titchy Sat 01-Apr-17 15:16:44

Is there anything in your deeds giving you occasional right of way to their garden for maintenance purposes? I'd have thought there was. In which case can't you just access it anyway give him 48 hours notice formally. And he can take it to court if he wants.

If you haven't got anything in your deeds I'm not sure...

Collaborate Sat 01-Apr-17 15:21:09

You have a right of access for essential works of maintenance and repair under the Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992. If the tenant won't agree you can apply to court. Perhaps it was a bit premature you booking the builders without the tenant's consent.

The works must be:

On an application under this section, the court shall make an access order if, and only if, it is satisfied—
(a)that the works are reasonably necessary for the preservation of the whole or any part of the dominant land; and
(b)that they cannot be carried out, or would be substantially more difficult to carry out, without entry upon the servient land;

See here

user1491049702 Sat 01-Apr-17 15:28:08

Essential works is the key word, if you are just doing up your house you have no rights, if you have a servey showing the the work is essential, they you can tell them to hire their own surveyor as your expense to confirm.

I stopped my asshole neighbour doing renovations that way as they always looked down on us for being renters so when they wanted to do up their house to sell I am sure to block access.

glorious Sat 01-Apr-17 15:29:01

Depending on what you are doing, have you checked whether you need party wall consent?

ClaireH26 Sat 01-Apr-17 15:44:39

Thank you for your replies. We don't have a party walk with that neighbour as the properties are separated with roof terraces.

We have been trying to contact this tenant and the owner for some time. The works have been in the planning for some time and have gained all necessary planning permission etc. We have party walls and shared areas with the property on the other side who we have been working closely with and who have been very amenable. Most of the work is internal and can be done without using his garden, except the roof and windows on that side. The roof is definitely essential repair and the windows in very poor condition although the main thing there is putting in secondary glazing which is maybe not essential.

We are finding the deeds to the house- it is annoying as we have allowed him to fence off his garden including this strip of land which is adjacent to our house, contains the light well to our basement and is rightfully ours, not expecting that he would try and prevent access at a future point. Also this is the tenant that is being difficult and not the owner so wouldn't the refusal of access need to come from the landlord?

PossumInAPearTree Sat 01-Apr-17 15:49:57

So they're actually preventing you accessing land you own? Have you pointed that out? Landlord may have changed email address? Is it ,managed via an agency?

ClaireH26 Sat 01-Apr-17 15:53:41

Well yes they are Possum, although we would need to access it through their land and set up the scaffolding on their land too as the strip we own is t big enough. I did point this out to the tenant, but heard nothing back. It is not managed through an agency. I'm guessing the tenant has contact details for the owner but he's being unhelpful.

ClaireH26 Sat 01-Apr-17 15:55:33

I should add the tenant is away a lot so we've been sending letters etc but only just got hold of a mobile number for him. Communication has been a big issue

PossumInAPearTree Sat 01-Apr-17 16:19:58

I'd be tempted to tell the tennant if he doesn't allow it you plan to spend the summer sunbathing naked on your strip of land in his garden so it might be better if he stops being a silly bugger.

ClaireH26 Sat 01-Apr-17 16:51:13


ClaireH26 Sat 01-Apr-17 16:52:17

I guess we've been naive but it didn't occur to us that we would need a court order to gain access to our property! Although we don't know this guy well, relations have always been friendly.

mycavitiesareempty Sat 01-Apr-17 16:56:11

When you bought this property did your solicitor not point out that you owned a strip of land that you had no access to???

ClaireH26 Sat 01-Apr-17 17:01:29

Well we should have access to that strip, there is a fence between our patio and their garden but were that fence not there we could access it. We've been nice about it until now as we've got no reason to access it most of the time. I think if we could just meet face to face we could smooth this over but he's ignoring my calls.

ClaireH26 Sat 01-Apr-17 17:02:22

It's a complex property, lots of shared aspects etc.

ClaireH26 Sat 01-Apr-17 17:11:33

Hopefully this makes it clearer. Basically they shouldn't have put a fence between our patio and their garden as the light well is part of our property.

PossumInAPearTree Sat 01-Apr-17 17:12:08

Is the fence between your patio and their garden your fence? Do the panels slide out? If so I would start removing panels!

PossumInAPearTree Sat 01-Apr-17 17:13:03

X post. Tell him to take his fence down if he wants to be an arse. Sounds like a land grab.

HmmOkay Sat 01-Apr-17 17:42:15

You say that you have planning permission. What for? Are you extending the house? The Access to Neighbouring Land Act allows you to access neighbouring land in order to carry out repairs on your house but not to build an extension.

You'd need to go to court and get a court order and only then could you go onto the land to repair your house. Of course it would be much easier if your neighbour would simply agree to it.

Check the deeds of both properties (you can view them online with the Land Registry for a small fee). Of course they may not tell you much in terms of where the boundary is. The Title Register will tell you the name of the registered owner. And a bit of googling might track them down to their current whereabouts if they don't have too common a name.

Can you access the back of your house via your other neighbours? You'd have to ask of course. That might enable you to just remove a couple of panels of his fence in order to do the work that you want.

You say "they". Does this man have a partner that you could talk to instead?

The other thing is that you could offer him in return for access is frosted glass on that side so that you can't see into his garden. Or offer to put an even higher fence up so that he has more privacy.

ClaireH26 Sat 01-Apr-17 18:02:38

No we are not extending the house, it is Grade 2 listed, we are rearranging some of the rooms, rebuilding the staircase etc

ClaireH26 Sat 01-Apr-17 18:05:09

We will be putting scaffolding on other side too, Neighbours on that side fine with it. I think we are totally in the right legally but of course it would take time to enforce. Sigh

ClaireH26 Sat 01-Apr-17 18:11:15

We know the landlords name, the country he lives in and have an email address for him but no other contact information. He isn't responding to email. He's retired so no business address.

HmmOkay Sat 01-Apr-17 18:42:21

Oh, I see. Send one last email to the owner in the vein of "If we do not hear back from you within 5 days we will go ahead with the works as planned".

Yes, you have done everything by the book. Given that the owner is out of the country, I wonder that if you even could get a court order whether you'd be able to enforce it.

In your situation I might just start the works inside and see how it goes this week. If Neighbour is away a lot then he won't even see what you are doing. Put the scaffolding up on a Monday morning and then be as unavailable as he has been when he tries to track you down to complain about it. You can always tell him at that point that the owner has agreed to it.

By the time he has huffed and puffed a bit, and tried to contact the owner about it, the scaffolding will be down anyway. There won't be much he can do about it. The fact that the owner is overseas works in your favour this time.

ClaireH26 Sat 01-Apr-17 20:54:40

Yeah i mean the fence is broken and really more of a psychological barrier than anything else! We don't want to run roughshod over our neighbors but I'm wondering what would happen if we just do exactly as you suggest and start the work anyway without his consent....

RamblinRosie Sat 01-Apr-17 23:15:35

Have you tried the Garden Law forum, they're usually pretty good on this kind of thing?

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