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Aston Lawyer
Aston Lawyer, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10604
Experience:  LLB(HONS) 23 years of experience in dealing with Conveyancing and Property Law
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I bought my house about 20 years ago. The only access

Customer Question

Hello, i bought my house about 20 years ago. The only access to my back garden, beside going through the house, was (and still is) through a line between my house and my neighbor house, line which belongs to my neighbor. For about 20 years, a gate leading to my back garden insure the passage. I was told at the time of the purchase of the house that i could use it anytime i want.
In 20 years i used it about a dozen time when i had heavy duty materials to bring at the back of the house, like when i redo my roof.
Now, my neighbor has replaced the gate from my garden to the line by a fence without telling me anything and has put the house in sale.
Basically, the only access to my back garden will be through my house.
As far as i know, nothing is written on the title deed about any "right" of passage. But a friend of mine told me about "traditional" access saying that when an access has been granted for sometimes, it has to continue and should be mentioned when the house is sold.
Is that true? ... in any case ... what are my options ?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 2 years ago.

Hello and thanks for using Just Answer.

I am Al and am happy to assist you with your enquiry.

First of all, you/your Solicitor should check your Deeds to see if there is any specific mention of a right to use this access. If there is, then obvioulsy you are entitled to ask your neighbour to remove the fence and re-instate a gate to allow you access.

If there is no written right to use the access in your Deeds, not all is lost. Under law, a party acquires a "prescriptive easement" if he has been exercising a right for 20 years or more. It doesn't have to be every day for 20 years- a couple of times a year is sufficient. A prescriptive easement means you will have acquired a legal right to continue to use the access into your back garden. Legally, such a right is automatice after 20 years has elapsed, but it is always best to document it formally, by way of making an application to the Land Registry, setting out the circumstances/your usage of the passageway. If successfull, the Land Registry will then put a note on your Deeds and your neighbour's Deeds to show that such a right exists.

On a side point-As your neighbour is selling, he is under a duty to notify his Buyer of any disputes relating to the house. If he does not, then his Buyer could sue him if he only gets to find out about this issue once he has moved in. I would therefore suggest that you remind your neighbour of this fact, and it wouldn't do you any harm in writing to his Estate Agent also, as they would then be under a duty to notify the Buyer. In turn, the Buyer will not want to proceed until any disagreement has been resolved and this should make your neighbour see sense and rectify matters sooner rather than later.

I hope this assists and sets out the legal position.

Kind regards

Al