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LondonlawyerJ
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Our house is served by 14 steps, shared with a neighbour, who

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Our house is served by 14 steps, shared with a neighbour, who proposes to dismantle part of the set of safety-rails. Is this legal i.e. are domestic safety rails flanking outdoor steps a legal requirement in the UK?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  LondonlawyerJ replied 2 years ago.
LondonlawyerJ :

Hello I am a solicitor with over 15 years experience. I will try to o help you with this

LondonlawyerJ :

There is no legal requirement for safety rails but if you share the steps he probably has no right to alter them without your permission. Does he have any particular right to alter the steps. Eg are you both responsible for your side of the steps? Is there any particular risk if the rails are removed?

Customer:

According to the map with our title deeds, the steps at least are a shared responsibiity but we are unsure of our position regarding the sets of safety-rails or "ballustrades". However ANYONE wishing to enter or leave either property can only do so via these steps. In other words it is a "virtual" right of way - our equivalent of the pavement on the adjoining highway pavement? The risk to anyone using the steps is that of falling i.e. life and limb are in danger. Is there any mileage in the "virtual" public right-of-way putting the steps into the Health and Safety Area, like someone tripping over a flagstone on the public highway.Hence do the steps need a properly maintained safety rail as in the H&S At Work Act?

Customer:

Sorry if I interrupt you, but our neighbour, whose land the steps and safety rail were built on in 1999 wishes to remove a vital set of rails on which my 82 years of age female partner relies. Unfortunately the local councils do not take H&S into account in issuing planning permission (only applies to the work place or public buildings). He wants to remove the set of safety rail to allow access to his proposed work-shed in the front garden. On opposing the planning permission, not yet applied for, is my argument about an equivalent to the highway a non-starter? Any other ideas for objection? Thank you.

LondonlawyerJ, Advocate
Category: Law
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Sorry, what about my follow-up replies? Have you finished with me?

Expert:  LondonlawyerJ replied 2 years ago.
There may be an argument under Occupier's Liability but unfortunately I am away from my books on this subject. I will look again tomorrow and answer you then
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

According to the map with our Title Deeds the steps at least are a shared responsibility but we are unsure of our position regarding the sets of safety-rails or "ballustrades". However anyone wishing to enter or leave either property can only do so via these steps. In other words it is a "virtual" right-of-way - our equivalent to the pavement on the adjoining highway pavement is it not?

The risk to anyone using the steps is that of falling if a section of the safety-rail/ballustrade is removed.

Is there any mileage in the "virtual" public right of way putting the steps into the Health and Safety area as with all public constructions?
Our neighbour, on whose land the steps and safety-rails were built in 1999 wishes to remove a vital set of safety-rail to accomodate entrance to a proposed shed intended to be built, subject to planning permission. Any ideas on this subject as to how we can object to removal of of any part of the safety feature cited above?

Expert:  LondonlawyerJ replied 2 years ago.
The Occupiers LIability Act 1957 imposes a duty of care on the occupier of land (ie you and the neighbour) to ensure that all visitors will be reasonable safe if they are on the land. This probably won't protect you or your wife (but would all other visitors) as you are also occupiers but an almost identical duty will be owed to you and your wife under the law of negligence.
I do not think there is any mileage in a "virtual right of way" argument.
If the steps are joint I do n think he can alter them without your agreement. You should put in writing your objections. If he puts a safe gate in the rails would that be sufficient for you and your wife and for him to access his shed. This is a negotiation situation.
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Category: Law
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