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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 22403
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street Practice
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We have lived in our house for 30 years and some of our neighbours

Customer Question

We have lived in our house for 30 years and some of our neighbours even longer. The local Estate recently sold a house along with the access road. This access road allow access to our garages and the back of our houses. Yesterday we received a letter from our (new) neighbour's solicitor saying the we cannot park outside of our garages. To this end he is planning either to put a gate at the end of the road and/or employ the services of a clamping company.
Other than the fact that its not very neighbourly and that legally it is his land is there anything we can say or do ? Given the amount of time we have lived in the house and that we have never been questioned about parking in front of our garage, is there any time rights (or whatever the term is) ?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.

Hello, I am Law Denning and I am a practising solicitor in a High
Street practice. I have been an expert on this website in UK law since 2008.
During that time, as you appreciate, I have answered thousand's of questions from satisfied users on a variety of subjects.
Because we are all in practice with clients and court and other users, I might not always respond in
minutes, particularly evenings and weekends. Please bear with me in that case.

It is my pleasure to try and assist you with this today. Please bear with me while I gather some further information from you in order for me to be able to advise you fully.

How many garages are involved?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
There is a block of four with different owners; another block of two both are owned by the same person. I believe, although not yet confirmed, the others along the road have been sent the same letter - although some don't have garages at the end of the road, they all use the road as access to the their properties. There is also a tennis court and a village social club that use the road as access. The club has been sent the same letter but I don't know about the tennis club
Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.
Thank you. Do you only own the land on which the garage is placed and not the area in front?
How many people park in front of garages?
Why do you think he is doing this?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Correct. Legally according to our deeds we own the garage and not the land in front
Depends. If the club have a function there are more people in front of the garage and people at that function will also sometimes park on the verges
Why ? I don't know. I think he is pushing his weight about but then I may be biased (!). I must add that he does not live the property. There is man that comes up now and again to do some 'work' but generally it's empty (as it is now- nobody there currently). It's in line with his general attitude since he arrived on the scene - has questioned ANY activity along the road, and generally it's people along the road doing some good (cutting the grass, mending fencing etc). Another example occurred the other evening - he arranged for a car that belonged to our neighbour that was on axle stands while he was doing some work taken away and taken to a car pound !
Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.
There are two issues here: access and parking.
If he puts a gate on the right of way, it would be for the court to decide whether that created a “substantial interference “over residents use of the right of way. A gate for pedestrian access is not generally a substantial interference provided, if it is locked, a key is supplied to warn users. It is different if it is a vehicle access because a gate means stopping the car, getting out, opening the gate, getting back in, driving through, getting back out again closing the gate, getting back in driving on.
However if he is insistent on putting a gate there, and you do not want it, you are faced with applying to court for an injunction to prevent it. I assume that he is not going to put a self opener on it.
We then come to the issue of parking and after 20 years of using a piece of land for something, you can acquire an easement under the Prescription Act provided there has never been any objection in that last 20 years, provided consent was never given and it was just ignored and people just did it, provided it did not take place in secret such as at night, and provided the used does not cause an obstruction.
The many years, it was very difficult to get an easement by prescription for parking however the situation has been clarified somewhat as you will read here and I can do no better than give you the link
http://www.wragge.com/analysis_8842.asp#.UgTh_JK1Eg1

Don’t be surprised if you are more confused when you finish reading the when you start. That is the law for you! Ultimately, based upon the facts you of given, it would be for the court to decide whether you have a prescriptive easement giving you the right to park in front of the garage provided of course that does not cause any obstruction.
It is unlikely that parking on the verge down the lane would be sufficient to create an easement and it is likely to be a substantial obstruction to the right of way and therefore not allowed.
The more people who have a garage there the better because of their 20 garages that is 20 people who, all paying £1000, would give a substantial fund in order to be able to pursue litigation against the landowner. It is very risky to fight on your own because if you go to court and lose, you can end up with a £20,000 legal bill although few go to court and win, it wouldn’t cost you anything. The reason I suggested all getting your heads together is purely to spread that risk.
Of course, if there are 20 of you and only 19 of you contribute, the other person gets the benefit of the outcome without payment and without risk.

Does that answer the question? Can I help further? Can I answer any specific points?
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Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 22403
Experience: PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street Practice
Stuart J and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thanks for the advice - I have rated you positively ! I think it's what the landowner is banking on - ie that we will moan about it, but not take it to the courts. We did think about replying to the solicitor's letter with our view - not that it will get us anywhere, but so that we can put our points across. I am guessing that he will employ the clamping company to enforce his wishes. It's all very disappointing - why don't people just speak to each other eh ?
Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.
Incidentally, clamping is illegal so he can’t do that and he threatens it, report it to the police because he is threatening to do something which is illegal.
He can employ one of these parking enforcement companies that put notices up everywhere and charge for parking.
Those charges are enforceable since 1 October last year.
I hope you get it sorted
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
The solicitors letter actually says "... Placing a gate where the private road joins the highway and/or engaging the services of a clamping company"
Are we saying the words clamping company are illegal ?
Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.
I would send the solicitor a snottogram, threatening them with reporting them to the Solicitors Regulation Authority for conspiring with their client to threaten something which is illegal

illegal.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19782680

to be frank, I would probably refer the matter to the Legal Complaints Service at the Solicitors Regulation Authority in any event because the solicitor should not threaten something which is illegal.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Sorry - one more question. Said landowner has installed a CCTV camera on the house looking out at the ground in front of the garages. The is no notice displayed - is this illegal too ?
Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.
There is a potential data protection issue here but don’t expect the Information Commissioner to take much notice. CCTV is so commonplace now on people’s houses that they simply do not bother

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