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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 26069
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I have a Victorian mid terrace house where we share a tunnel

Customer Question

I have a Victorian mid terrace house where we share a tunnel access to the rear of the houses.. The owners of the terrace house with the tunnel are storing things in it restricting access and have now put locks on the doors at each end. I can't seem to reason with them. It is clearly written in the house title that we have a right to use the access. What can I do? Someone told me if I have to take court action and win the other party would have to pay my solicitors and court costs. Is that true? Regards ***** *****
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience. May I ask when they installed the gates please? Have you given them any written notice to date or has everything been verbal so far?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Joshua,

The doors at both ends of the tunnel have been there since I first bought my place 10 years ago. They have always had locks on and I have my own set of keys. It is only recently that the new owner has fitted another lock on the rear doors. I have no key for this lock.

I have not given them any notice in writing. It has only been verbal. I wish now that they not be allowed to store things in the tunnel any more. It does make the access difficult.

KInd regards,

Greg XXXXXX

Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Thank you very much for the above. Locking the gate in such a way that prevents you from exercising your legal right-of-way would amount to an unlawful interference. The courts have considered what amounts to an interference with a right. They have decided that there can be no substantial interference if, despite the obstruction, the right of way can be "practically and substantially exercised as conveniently" as it was before Hutton v Hamboro (1860) and Colls v Home and Colonial stores Ltd (1904). However clearly the lack of a key is an unlawful impediment. as regards ***** ***** that have been stored, if they have installed in such a way so that you can exercise your right (apart from the locked gate) without any substantive inconvenience - i.e. without haveing to slow down to negotiate obstacles - then it is unlikely to be actionable in itself, however if the items make your negotiating a right-of-way more difficult in more than a trivial way, then the items being stored there would also amount to unlawful impediment. The first step is to serve notice on your neighbour if informal approaches have failed giving the notice that the items being stored in the tunnel and the lock on the gate both constitute an unlawful interference with your legal easement and require them to provide an undertaking to remove the items and supply you with a key to any and every lock on the gate within 10 days failing which you will be left with little alternative but to apply for an injunction and costs against the neighbour to order them to comply. You may also mentioned that you reserve the right to claim damages for loss of amenity. Failure to observe a court injunction is treated as contempt of court and can lead to custody. To apply for an injunction, you would need evidence that you have required your neighbour to comply - need for the above notice - and evidence of the legal right (your deeds should evidence) and the obstruction - your statement and photographs will suffice. to apply you will require form N16Ahttp://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/HMCTS/GetForm.do?court_forms_id=402 you can apply for costs of the application against your neighbour. There is a fee of £155 to apply. I hope the above is of assistance? If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click to rate my service to you today or just reply back to let me know if the above is helpful. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me I'd be very grateful
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
I hope the above is helpful? Can I help you with anything else or has the above answered your questions satisfactorily? If you could drop me a quick message to let me know I'd be very grateful.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Joshua,

Thank you for your advice, I have further questions.

You say I should serve notice, is this as simple as a letter from me asking for the keys and reasonable, unrestricted access? With proof of service?

This fee of £155 for costs of the application. Is this refunded if the Court agrees with my case? Would this be the limit of my costs?

Kind regards,

Greg XXXXXX

Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Greg - Notice can take the form of a simple letter. It does not have to follow and specific format as long as it is clear. You can either post it keeping a postage receipt or you can devlier it personally recording the time and date you deliver it. There is no need to complete a certificate of service.If the neighbour were to appoint a solicitor and defend the application it is posible costs could rise beyond the above however based on what you say it is difficult to see what defence could be raised. The gate would appear to be indefensible. The items being stored would only be defensible if they only obstructed your route trivially. The court has discretion as to how to order costs but will generally award them against the losing party. In addition the court will look at the conduct of the parties before the hearing in order to decide costs - e.g. could the matter have been avoided had the other party behave reasonably.I hope the above is helpful? Can I help you with anything else or has the above answered your questions satisfactorily? If you could drop me a quick message to let me know I'd be very grateful.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks very much for you help Joshua.

Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
A great pleasure. I hope you are able to reach a settlement without the need for a court application