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New neighbour wants to own the entry?

(365 Posts)
danilyon Thu 28-Apr-11 11:46:17


A new neighbour bought the house next to us about 3 weeks ago. She knocked and introduced herself and said she wanted to pop around the following week to talk about the back gardens. She came round and spoke about putting a fence in the back garden between our house and hers, which is fine as it's something we've been meaning to do but not had the money for. She also asked about putting a gate on the entryway that runs between our house, which is also fine with us.

She then went on to say that she would sort all of this out and that she would like to legally own the entryway that runs between our houses and that she would maintain the entryway. Our house is a terraced house in a row of 4 and our house and the neighbours are in the middle. Above the entryway is one of her bedrooms and her bathroom I think. The entryway is shared between us both and as far as my hubby and I are aware the boundry line runs straight down the middle of entryway. It is the only access we both have to our back gardens. When she mentioned getting her solicitor to send us the paperwork to have a read through hubby made a few non-commital comments but I think she thinks it's a go from us.

We've had no paperwork from any solicitor as of yet, but after me and hubby have had a chat (obviously couldn't do it whilst she was here), we are wondering why would she want to have ownership of the entryway? Obviously a part of our problem would be if she fell out with us for whatever reason and denied access as it's our only access to the back garden? Also what would happen when we sold our house - we think this could hinder a sale if we agreed and told the new owners that actually the neighbour owns the entryway?

I'm worrying what to say to her now as we are not keen to sign anything to give her the entryway completely. We only use the entryway to take the wheelie bins from the back garden out to the front on collection day anyway so it's not like we have all kinds of people coming round the back to see us etc. Does anyone have any advice on what we could say to her? Obviously we don't want to 'sour' relations with her because we are refusing to give her the entryway legally.

Any advice would help. Thanks! smile

missnevermind Thu 28-Apr-11 11:54:26

I dont think it can be done legally. Something about a flying freehold? Sorry very vauge as we went through this 10 years ago.

HarrietSchulenberg Thu 28-Apr-11 11:56:23

If it's any help my neighbours own the path that runs across their back garden, but I have right of access across it and down through their entry to the road. I'm in a terrace too.

You could look at letting her buy the alley (and therefore assume all maintenance costs) but make absolutely sure you retain full right of access. Otherwise I don't think it's a good idea at all.

ChristinedePizan Thu 28-Apr-11 11:58:39

I don't know about legally but I stayed in a holiday house last year where there were two rows of cottages with an alley behind each of them. The one behind our cottages was obviously shared ownership as it was open and everyone used it (no pavements on the roads either side) but on the other side, the bloke at the end had put a gate with a lock on it either end, meaning it couldn't be accessed by any other house in the terrace which was a total pita for everyone else. You really don't want to get into a situation like that if you can avoid it.

Butterbur Thu 28-Apr-11 12:00:53

You can't possibly agree to this unreasonable request just so as not to sour relations with her, so steel yourself for the fallout.

Besides, I don't imagine agreeing would be the end of your problem. No doubt she has plans for the entryway eg storage, or extension.

Even if you had an easement created giving you the right of access over it, just look at the Neighbours from Hell website to see how many disputes have arisen over easements. It's all far clearer if you both own half of the accessway. Then neither of you can do anything to it.

If you are happy to have no access to the back garden (and many terraced properties don't) then ask her to pay through the nose for the privilege, and to pay your legal fees too.

HarrietJones Thu 28-Apr-11 12:01:43

It's probably to do with the freehold. She will have flying freehold over your half of the alley. You will need to ensure you have access written in but it may be worth more to her than you

Gooseberrybushes Thu 28-Apr-11 12:01:58

No no no no no no no don't let it happen.

as you were

thenightsky Thu 28-Apr-11 12:02:20

If she has a bedroom above the passageway, I suspect she is thinking it might be nice to extend her house by filling in said passageway!

TheCrackFox Thu 28-Apr-11 12:07:19

You could offer to sell your share!

nocake Thu 28-Apr-11 12:12:08

I would say no and I would also ask that she put any gate on her garden, not on the alleyway. Having a lockable gate onto a shared space is asking for trouble. She may start using the space to store things, restricting your access and what happens if you fall out and she decides to lock the gate against you one day? It's better to avoid the situation by making it very clear now that she's welcome to put a fence and gate around her garden but not on the alleyway.

fedupwithdeployment Thu 28-Apr-11 12:17:34

Make sure you get proper legal advice on this. Don't sign anything before doing so. Sounds like a bad idea to me (lawyer but not a property expert).

MoreBeta Thu 28-Apr-11 12:18:15

Whatever her reasons you can be sure that it will be to her advantage and to your disadvantage.

Dont agree to her request. Whoever buys your house off you will see her control of your right of way as a huge disadvantage. However, to keep good relations offer to contribute to the cost of the fence and the gate and repair of the path.

danilyon Thu 28-Apr-11 12:21:55

Thank you for all your replies! smile

Hubby and I are not keen at all on her owning it for reasons outlined in my original post. I think the suggestion that she wants to extend the downstairs could be valid - she did mention that she would have liked to have knocked down the large concrete outhouse in the back gardens (half is on our side and half is on hers if that makes sense and they are used as sheds) but she had been persuaded by the builder she has in at the moment making improvements to her house that it was a good building and useful to have.

I agree that an easement would most likely be more trouble than it is worth and that we'd have to go through the stress of having to make sure everything is worded correctly for future owners of our property and it is something we could really do without at the moment.

She apparently mentioned to hubby when she saw him yesterday coming back in the house that the paperwork hasn't come through yet because it's been passed on to another solicitor and apparently that solicitor is making it seem like it's more complicated than it is but it isn't (her words) and that her solicitor had mentioned that we'd need to go to our solicitor so she'd been arguing with her solicitor that she's paying him to sort it out and send the relevent paperwork to us confused

She does seem like a nice lady but it is confusing as why she wants to own the entryway and to us it doesn't seem necessary for her to have full ownership for it. Think hubby wants to wait til the paperwork comes through and then have another chat with her so there could be fireworks yet!

Thanks again for the replies, very much appreciated smile

danilyon Thu 28-Apr-11 12:31:53

Nocake - We don't actually mind having a gate onto the actual entryway as well as a gate on the fence into our garden as it would stop people coming into the entryway (the area we live in isn't the greatest and apparently she's found evidence that people have been coming through into her back garden and using it - though we've not heard anyone come through the entryway or any noises out back). As long as we both have keys but keep the entryway the way it is, in terms of her no having full control of it, hopefully there wouldn't be any problems. Obviously we would pay halves for the gate.

MoreBeta - Think your completely right with your reply. When she mentioned the fence we said we are more than happy to pay halves for that too as we had been wanting to get it done. She said she would sort everything out (even to have the fence at the top aswell with a gate in) but I think she was possibly saying that as she wants us to agree to her owning the entryway and maybe she's thinking that would be the best way to get us to agree? hmm Either way we are more than happy to go halves with the fence and we've told her this, so it may be a case of reiterating this to her when we decline her the full ownership of the entryway.

Butterbur Thu 28-Apr-11 12:33:34

You know, the longer her solicitor spends on the paperwork, the more it's going to cost her. She won't be pleased at wasting the money if you were going to say no all along. You owe it to her to say no clearly up front. Tell your DH to stop being a wuss, and stop leading her up the garden path. grin

AMumInScotland Thu 28-Apr-11 12:34:03

I think all you need to say is "We've had a think about it, and we'd rather keep things the way they are at the moment thanks". There's no reason for her to get funny about it - if this was something really important to her, she should have done something about it before buying the house - she can't assume that everyone will just happily let her change things!

Gooseberrybushes Thu 28-Apr-11 12:34:56

"Whoever buys your house off you will see her control of your right of way as a huge disadvantage."

Absolutely. Whatever she pays you will be nothing compared to the thousands that will come off your house price.

danilyon Thu 28-Apr-11 12:46:33

Haha Butterbur smile Yes I do think we need to tell her sooner rather than later, will give hubby a poke to shift himself and try and catch her for us to have a chat with her. She's currently renting a room somewhere whilst the house is totally redecorated and also still trying to sell her house down in Surrey so she doesn't seem to be there a lot, but as soon as her car is outside will have to knock then.

Fizzylemonade Thu 28-Apr-11 12:55:41

My friend asked a solicitor about buying the neighbour out of the access bit and he said that no one in their right mind would sell an access point even though they were semi-detached and the the access ran through the middle of their properties and they both still had access to the side of their houses too.

You might want to have a look at on their forums about ROWs or Rights of Way and the problems of having access for bins etc over someone's land and how much of a minefield it is.

You really should not even consider selling this. How would you get your wheelie bin to the front if she owned the land and refused you access by locking the gate? Money in the short term could lead to huge problems in the long term. re selling etc

Simplest solution is see a solicitor for a free consultation and when her paperwork arrives from her solicitor tell her that your solicitor has advised against it.

KeepCalmAndCurryOn Thu 28-Apr-11 12:57:07

Talk to her sooner rather than later - she's probably paying out for a lot of paperwork that will be useless to her if you don't sell your rights.

southmum Thu 28-Apr-11 14:02:20

Absolutely no way.

She is being pretty forceful and moving it all very quickly so she has obviously has something up her sleeve that you wont like.

Agree that you should tell her now.

MerylStrop Thu 28-Apr-11 14:08:37

You need to just tell her no, NOW, and save her the time, energy and expense of all this solicitor stuff.

mrslevy Thu 28-Apr-11 18:00:45

I agree with the others that you should say no to this. I also think you should tell her asap.

But I wouldn't feel that guilty about her running up legal bills. She should have given you time to consider it and ask questions before going to a solicitor.

The fact that she hasn't makes me suspect she's trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

She sounds very much like a former neighbour of mine who I initially thought was okay if a bit bossy and later learned was an unhinged bully.

Be prepared for possible nastiness and just ignore.

MollieO Thu 28-Apr-11 18:13:10

I definitely wouldn't agree to her owning the right of way nor would I agree to her putting a gate on the alleyway. Further I would put this in writing to her and post it to her. She is wasting costs with her solicitor based on your silence, which she won't be happy about.

herhonesty Thu 28-Apr-11 18:19:17

Dont give anything away and i can understand that saying this face to face is difficult you could just pop a note through her door (to avoid an awkward situation) saying that you've taken your own legal advice and have decided it is not in your best interest.

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