I am in the process of buying a property and the seller has told me the neighbour has no legal right of way but they've been using a gate (for many years) to walk across the garden of the house we're buying to get to an allotment on the other side of the road. The neighbour has verbally agreed not to use the gate any more. How can I get legal assurance that this right of way does not exist? Would a letter from the neighbours suffice? Thanks.
Hello and thanks for using Just Answer.
My name is ***** ***** am happy to assist you with your enquiry.
To enable me to answer you fully, do you know for how long the neighbour has been using the right of way?
Has this always been done with the express consent of the Seller?
I look forward ot hearing from you.
Thanks for your help.
I will find out but I suspect it's been many years. The seller purchased this property last year and the previous owner was the father of the neighbour and he was in his 90s.
As far as I'm aware the seller has never contested the neighbour's use of the right of way.
Thanks for your reply.
The law concerning this states that where a party uses a right of way, WITHOUT the express consent of the owner of the land, for 20 years or more, and this right is exercised without dispute, that party has acquired what is called "a right by prescription". This means the party has acquired a right to continue to use the right of way automativcally, without the need for registering any such right at the Land Registry (although this is preferable, so as to avoid any argument in the future).
Therefore, you need to satisfy yourselves, via your Solicitor, whether any such right has been acquired. It may well have been that if the previous owner consented to the neighbour using the right of way, this would have been classed as a mere "Licence", meaning that this agreement could be terminated by either party giving notice to the other, and the 20 year rule would not apply as consent had been granted.
Either way, a simple letter signed by the neighbour confirming that no legal right has been acquired by him would be sufficent evidence and adequate comfort for you.
I hope this helps and sets out the legal position.
Please let me know if I can be of any more assistance.
Thanks Al. One last question...I'll probably need to draft the letter for them to sign. Are there any specific words or legal expressions to ensure I include?
I would hope your Solicitor would draft this for you, but basically it should read-
I, Mr XX of***** Anytown,hereby confirm and acknowledge that my use of the right of way over***** Anytown is no longer in force and I also acknowledge that I have not acquired any legal right to carry on using the right of way.
(The above could also include a furthe rsentence/amendment to say that "my use of the right of way was always exercised with the full permisison of the owner of 4 High Stree" if indeed it was).
I hope this assists.
Can I assist you any further?
If not, I would be grateful if you could rate my answer.