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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8445
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I am being annoyed by my neighbour, who owns next door as a

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Hi, I am being annoyed by my neighbour, who owns next door as a holiday let and he lives 50 miles away. I am in the end terrace and have access across his and the next property, the only way to get between the back door of my house to the front. This is necessary to be kept clear for bin passage and workmen and deliveries.
He has been told many times I need access, and now he has put two large pots, right in the way. I today complained to the cottage letting company and they told me there should be 3 feet allowed for access, which would certainly be needed for a bin collection.
Is this correct in law? If so I can make him keep the path clear, he seems to ignore polite reminders!
Christine, Windermere Cumbria
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 3 months ago.

The legal test of how wide a right-of-way needs to be if it is a foot access, is actually the width of a wheelbarrow! That would allow bins etc to go down the right-of-way.

For the right-of-way to be obstructed, the obstruction needs to be substantial. There is no definition of substantial.

For example, a wheelie bin (or a pot) in a narrow alleyway would be a substantial obstacle but not on a driveway 18 feet wide.

A solicitors letter threatening a court application and costs, for an injunction to making keep the path clear may do the trick without the necessity of actually going to court.

It is not a matter for the Environmental Health Department.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

Please don’t forget to rate the service positive. It’s an important part of the process by which experts get paid. It doesn’t cost you anything but helps me greatly.

Best wishes.


Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Thanks. 'A Wheelbarrow' is a bit vague! I suppose the wheelbarrow would be 2 to 2.5 foot and then a bit needed to actually get it through! The pots are 2 ft high and metal and square with sharp corners. Children are often staying there and an accident is likely, if they were to stay. That was the EH bit. I have moved the pots to the side now, but he will be back one evening, as the cottage is booked solid for 2 months after this Friday.The chap just doesn't listen.
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
We have small back yards - Victorian terrace - and he has reduced space a lot in his recently, by putting in a picnic table, ie the sort with fixed benches, not suitable in my opinion. Previously there was a smaller round table with folding chairs.
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
I have tried to add a photo but it says too big, try 5MB. I have cropped it down and it is 1.2MB and still won't go.
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
The photo has attached now, please can you clarify the situation as for this site.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 3 months ago.

I agree but that’s the test.

However you have to read that in conjunction with the area over which you have the right-of-way. If it’s quite a large area shaded in a colour on the land Registry plan, it then comes down to whether the obstruction is substantial.

I think there is an issue here with the square corners and he would then face a claim in negligence or breach of his statutory requirements to keep law for visitors (and unlawful visitors for that matter) safe from harm if any claimant who was injured by the pots could prove to the court that they presented a hazard or a trap.

Unfortunately, whilst it might say the photograph has attached, it hasn’t come out at my end.

Obviously, the tables are not an issue here unless they obstruct your right-of-way.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
My right of way on the docs is across the back of his, and the next house's yards, only a path. and he is putting the pots on there against the back, they are 14ins square. There is nearly 3 ft without them and now I have moved the table back a bit. I just do not want him to put them back it is ridiculous. He knows it is a right of way he just ignores it. If I can say it has to be a certain width it is a help. Might laugh at the wheelbarrow...! Wonder why the photo has not shown it seemed to go eventually.
thanks for the help anyway.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 3 months ago.

I am familiar with the kind of layout, where there is access through everyone’s backyard.

If you want to use something else rather than the wheelbarrow then use the old-fashioned type child’s pram as a reference or simply refer to the width of the front door of a normal house which is normally 32 inches, 2’8” as being a reasonable width.

F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8445
Experience: I have been practising for 30 years.
F E Smith and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Ok, Thanks, ***** ***** is all we can say. Will do the rating now.
bye, Christine
Expert:  F E Smith replied 3 months ago.

That is very kind. Thank you.

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