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LondonlawyerJ
LondonlawyerJ, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 777
Experience:  Experienced solicitor
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Our house has a side access path which leads to the rear of

Customer Question

Our house has a side access path which leads to the rear of the property. Since the house was built in 1988/89 it has had a gate at the front of this side alley with the hinges attached to a timber upright on our side wall and the latch attached to a corresponding timber upright fixed to our neighbour's side wall. Our neighbours had the same style of gate fixed in the same way at the front of their side access but attached on the far side to their own next door neighbour's property.
A few years ago our neighbours agreed for us to put up a roof over the side access to keep it dry for the storage of bikes etc. They also offered to help my husband do this as they had a similar roof over their side alley which they had erected themselves. Unfortunately we didn't get a written agreement but the husband basically designed and built it (he was an engineer so more skilled at practical things than my husband!)
My husband subsequently changed the gate and uprights to match the roof structure and the original gate was fitted at the garden end of the alley to stop anyone accessing our kitchen door from the back (we have a public footpath on the other side of the house and security is a concern).
When our neighbours emigrated a few years later, the new owners did not object to the roof at first, but after a disagreement over a tree on the boundary, which I declined to remove, they demanded we take roof down. I was happy to do this as it just made the alley dark. However, the female owner is a very rude woman who seems to think that bullying will get her what she wants. Her husband has tried to be more conciliatory but she always steps in and becomes very abusive and aggressive. My husband cannot abide this type of behaviour so he dug in his heels and refused. After a year or so of intermittent complaints from the neighbours and myself he finally agreed to take it down this week. He also removed the rather shoddy gate and had a new one fitted by a qualified carpenter.
Having failed to get her way sooner with the roof our neighbour recently started making demands about the gate itself. There appears to be nothing in the title deeds about the gates but I have the original sales particulars and it is clearly visible in the photographs. I cannot believe that it is reasonable for her to demand we remove something that the house was built with and which is a basic security element for us. She has claimed that the gate has caused damage to her property but there is no sign of anything visible externally. Her husband has told me that the plaster has cracked internally but as we very rarely use the gate, not even for the bins, and the weight is fixed to our wall not theirs, I think this is unrelated. The room concerned used to be the integral garage and was converted by earlier owners, so it might be related to poor workmanship for all we know.
She has threatened on several occasions to rip down the roof herself, which we ignored, and now that it has gone she is threatening to rip down the gate in order to have her side wall repointed. There is no sign of any damage to the pointing so I believe this to be more bluster on her part.
Do we have a right to the gate if the property was built with it but it is not mentioned specifically? Our house was bought off plan by the previous owners so we are only the second owners in 25 years and the gate has always been there. I am not so unreasonable as to try to make access difficult if they really need to do work - we didn't complain when they gained access for fascia works without bothering to tell us their workmen were coming as agreed. But I do object strongly to being ordered around and being threatened with someone coming onto my property without good reason.
What should we do?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  LondonlawyerJ replied 1 year ago.
Customer:

Hello, I am a solicitor with 20 years experience. I will try to answer this. When did the new neighbours move in? When was the first complaint about the gate?

Customer:

If all she wants is to get some work done and agrees t put it back as it was will that be a problem. I can see that threats to rip it down are very annoying (if she did so she might well be committing criminal damage).

JACUSTOMER-7hmv5ql5- :

They bought the property in May 2007 (3 yrs after we bought ours). The first complaint didn't come until about 3 yrs later after she had tried to get me to remove the tree. Her MO is to say she wants to talk to us about something and then launch into 'This is a problem for me you need to do x/y/z' and when unsurprisingly she gets your back up and doesn't get what she wants she turns immediately nasty.

JACUSTOMER-7hmv5ql5- :

I don't believe that there is any work needed to repoint the outside, it looks in good condition (the house is under 30 years old).I think that, true to form, she is just trying to make a point that she can do what she likes. She claims that he has a right to access on her deeds but I would have thought it was just under the relevant act as it doesn't appear to be on our deeds. I have asked my husband to check with the land registry here where we live in Gloucester to see if there are any covenants etc that might affect this.

JACUSTOMER-7hmv5ql5- :

She also came onto our property and stood right in front of my husband yesterday saying she had a right. We told her she was trespassing and to leave - rather stupidly she seemed to be trying to provoke a physical reaction but my husband is a retired police officer with over 20 years experience so he is used to dealing with people like that. He warned her that if she tried to break down the gate we would report her for criminal damage - she could only remove the uprights if she removes the door and to do that would have to climb over it and unscrew the hinges to get the door off.

JACUSTOMER-7hmv5ql5- :

Having left with a deal of verbal abuse she later returned and took a photo through the open door into the alleyway. Our carpenter told her not to take a photo of him as she hadn't asked but my feeling is that this is harassment as it's not part of the property that is visible from her property or the public highway and she didn't have our permission for such a photo. I am slightly concerned that she may have mental health issues because of the way she deals with people and I have two 17 yr olds who find her rather intimidating so I don't want to engage with her unless I have to. I should also mention that she tried to force us to move our bins to the rear of our property as she didn't like seeing them through the window of the room next to our alley. This despite the fact that she keeps her own bins in exactly the same spot on her property i.e. next to the neighbours boundary. When we refused because it meant having tem outside our kitchen window instead of by our garage, she started a campaign of pushing the bins onto our driveway every day. And I do mean every day. We just put them back and shake our heads. But you will appreciate this is not normal behaviour and we think we need to put something in legal terms to put a stop to it.

Customer:

Like most lawyers on this site I fit in answers on this site around my legal practice. I will get back to you later today.

JACUSTOMER-7hmv5ql5- :

Thank you.

Customer:

Your neighbours will only be entitled to access to your land to carry out repairs if they are necessary. Even in these circumstances they can not just come onto your land without your permission. There is a procedure under the Access to Neighbouring Land Act, which requires notice to be given to you of the proposed works. If you don;t agree then your neighbour could seek an order, but in these circumstances would be unlikely to succeed.

Customer:

As far as this right of access in her deeds. You should ask her to show you this right. But frankly what is in her deeds may be neither here nor there as far as rights over your land are concerned.

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