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Lisa C
Lisa C, Property Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 47
Experience:  UK qualified solicitor with 10+ years experience in property law
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There is a 6ft wide concreted alley between my semi-detached

Customer Question

There is a 6ft wide concreted alley between my semi-detached Victorian house and my neighbour's, with a high steel-barred gate securing both houses from intruders approaching from the front. In my deeds (I bought the house in 1978) is a statement that the alleyway should be used by mutual agreement, which it was for many years.
My neighbour has no such statement in his deeds, but we always agreed to honour this mutual respect. He and his family moved in about the year 2000 and we always got on very well - until his endless house improvements, carried out by a team of up to 10 workers, and starting about two years ago , showed an ever-reducing consideration of my comfort and rights. In short we became severely alienated about a year ago.
That's a rough background; I have two points of contention, one major one minor.
1. I agreed about two years ago that he could park his motor scooter in the alleyway for obvious reasons of security. But he always parks it within inches of the steel gate - on his side of the alley, of course, which is unfortunately the side the gate lock is on.
This makes it impossible for me to get to the lock from the garden side, which is the only side on which I have occasion to open the gate, i.e. when taking out or carrying material into my garden - with dirty shoes etc.
He on the other hand - as I have pointed out to him more than once - has a boiler/toilet overflow pipe high up on his flank wall which spasmodically pours water down into the shared alley right in the spot to where I would like him to move his scooter....!
For almost two years now he has made no attempt to repair the overflow - despite the fact he has a complete team of builders at his disposal.
2. Moreover he keeps cans of oil and other bits and pieces of scooter apparatus in the alley behind the scooter - to add to the building junk he has now been keeping there since his team of workers have been working on his and other houses in the area. He has no intention of storing his junk in his back garden.
Dialogue is impossible.
Footnote:I was chairman of our street's residents' association for 20 years until a few years ago, with his recorded thanks for getting him off a hefty parking fine and many other such testimonies from other people as to the way I carried out my role.
Question: What if any legal solution might I have? I'm pretty sure it will be necessary.
Submitted: 10 days ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 8 days ago.
I've been working hard to find a Professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.
I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.
Thank you!
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 7 days ago.
I apologise as we have not yet been able to find a Professional to assist you. Do you wish for me to continue to search for someone to assist you or would you like for us to close your question at this time?
Thank you for your patience,
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Are you saying £43 won't get me anywhere (I notice - approvingly - you haven't paid it in)? i.e. that I don't have a realistic chance of getting even the general hint I suggested for that sum?
I'll ring you later today or tomorrow morning if I don't hear further by email.
Again, thanks for keeping in touch.
Bob Knowles
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 6 days ago.
We will continue to look for a Professional to assist you. I don't think the price is an issue, it may just be a complicated question.
Thank you for your patience,
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 6 days ago.
Please understand it is rare for us not to be able to find the right Professional to assist our customers. We can close this question and refund your good faith deposit to the original funding source on request, as per our satisfaction guarantee.
Please let me know how you wish to proceed and again I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
I hope you will give JustAnswer a try again in the future,
Customer: replied 6 days ago.
I'm still OK to hang on, but only for a few days. I'm getting near the point when I'll need to act (i.e move the neighour's scooter), so would like to know where I stand legally.
Thanks again,
Bob Knowles
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 6 days ago.

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.

What is it you want to achieve please?

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
I wrote a reply yesterday at some length but couldn't successfully attach pics, which seemed to obstruct the sending of the reply itself. But it eventually disappeared from my screen - so did it arrive with you?
I'm using my old Wins XP desktop for this; maybe I should switch to my (Wins 7) laptop - which is more up to date, but which I like less and is harder to use.
Bob Knowles
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 3 days ago.

I just need to know at this stage what is it you want to achieve. Thanks.

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
Hi Jamie,
I wrote a longish answer to you yesterday 21st, but trying to send attached pics seemed to mess it all up. It disappeared from my screen, but you haven't told me you got didn't?
OK briefly again :
1. My neighbour and I agreed years ago, when we were on speaking terms, to 'share the alley' between our houses, as stated in my deeds - but not his. ( I sent him the relevant extract about three years ago when we were still friendly and he asked if he could park his scooter in the alleyway. Of course he could, I said.)
2. But he parks his motor scooter right up against the 2m high iron gate which stops intruders getting into the alley and thus to the backs of our houses. I have asked more than once that he move the scooter 6 ft or so back to give me access to open the gate from the garden/alley side, which I can't do since the lock is on his side, with the scooter making access impossible.
He always opens it from the front of the house side in order to take out the scooter.
3. I've pointed out to him that the overflow high up on his house spasmodically throws water down on to the alley a few feet beyond the scooter, and that this is clearly why he won't move it back! And that he should get it fixed by one of his huge team of builders.
4. He ignored this request and has silently rejected this argument for about two years now.
(As stgreet residents' association chairman for about 25 years, mid-80s to about 2010, I was responsible for organising the erection of these very useful intruder-proof gates between the semi-detached houses in our street.)
5. I haven't bothered arguing about it, having put it all on emails to him over the past two or three years - which he duly ignores. But this summer I'll be carrying and fetching stuff to and from my garden, so soon I'll be forced to move his scooter myself.
6. Additionally to the scooter problem : my neighbour has had very substantial work done to his house and rear garden over the past three years, often noisy and out of regulation hours. His building team are Polish, with only the odd one speaking English. This has led to some altercations with him and one of them. But the point is the pile of junk, unused materials etc permanently leaned againt his house wall. In 35 years I have never heard or seen a sign of a rat despite the legend of their proximity. I don't want to see the first because of his junk, which I want moved. It has been there too long.What are my rights?
(I've emailed my Wandsworth councillor with attachments twice over the past year, but never had a reply. Now it's coming to crunch time.)
I have photos and emails galore to back up my arguments, but I'm not going to try to send them to you just now, since yesterday they seemed to gum up the works.
Bob Knowles
PS. A chat might be the right solution, but I think you need these facts first. (You haven't paid in my original £43. Would that be added to the £43 for calling you?
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 3 days ago.

Yes its an extra cost. Let me know if you want to do it.

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
What are you offering if I say no to a phone call? Haven't I given enough back ground for you to give me an idea if I have a case - or do you see this as one of those fir tree-hedge disputes which nobody ever wins?
I'm not unable / unwilling to pay the £44, but I can't send you photos, email copies, etc, over the phone, so I don't quite see where we're going.
Customer: replied 3 days ago.
What I'm trying to achieve:
1. Can I legally require my neighour to move his scooter away from our shared gate? As in my point 5.
2. Can I legally require him to shift the pile of rubbish in our shared alley ? As in my point 6.
Customer: replied 2 day ago.
Jamie, I've given you enough background and narrowed my request down to two points yesterday. You haven't shown any signs of having studied my case, but just want to go to a phone conversation.
Sorry but I want to change lawyers.
Bob Knowles
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 1 day ago.
It seems the professional has left this conversation. This happens occasionally, and it's usually because the professional thinks that someone else might be a better match for your question. I've been working hard to find a new professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right professional can take a little longer than expected.
I wonder whether you're OK with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.
Thank you!
Customer: replied 20 hours ago.
Perhaps I don't understand your system. Yesterday I expressed a wish to drop Jamie because, over several days and two re-writings of my case, he didn't show any reaction to the substantial details I gave him. He wanted to go direct to a conversation without having given me any indication of what he thought of my case.
I expressly asked to be referred to Lisa C, having read her answer to a client.
What happened to this request? I even indicated its moderate urgency.
(And you appear to have taken me off Jamie's list due to his request. Actually it was mine.)
Can I please be referred to Lisa C?
And can what I wrote twice to Jamie be passed on to her? Or will I have to recreate it?
Thank you,
Bob Knowles
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 10 hours ago.
I was not aware of a request to Lisa C and cannot see one on the page, however I will happily send the question to her.
Thank you,
Expert:  Lisa C replied 7 hours ago.

Hello Bob, and thank you for your question. I would be happy to assist.

It sounds like both you and your neighbour have legal rights to use the alleyway in question. (It is not uncommon for the benefit of such a right to be missing from the title to the land that benefits from it. The important feature is that it is detailed on the title which has the burden of the right of way - in this case, the title to the alleyway.)

The precise nature of those rights will very much depend upon the exact wording of the relevant title documents, but generally speaking, a right to use an accessway does not entitle a party to obstruct it - far from it. In fact, I would be surprised if there were not some wording in the title documents to expressly prohibit such action. In any event, where a right of access that one is entitled to is obstructed by a third party, one is perfectly entitled to insist that the obstruction is removed.

I note that you have emailed your neighbour on multiple occasions asking that the items be removed, without success. I would therefore suggest sending a formal letter before action, repeating the request that the items be removed and specifying a reasonable period of time within which this should be done. The letter should also make clear that, if the items are not moved by your neighbour within that timeframe, you will move these yourself. (In order to ensure that the letter is firm but objective you may choose to have it prepared on your behalf by a local solicitor - not least as the formality of a solicitor's letter is often sufficient to 'shock' the recipient into taking the necessary action. This should not be an expensive exercise as it should take only an hour or so of their time at most.)

If the obstruction remains in situ following receipt of the letter and expiry of the specified time period, you may then move the items. You should, of course, take care not to damage these, and to place them all within your neighbour's own property. (As tempting as it may be to handle these roughly or to simply dispose of them, you obviously do not wish to be on the receiving end of a claim for damages to the items! You should therefore take great care when dealing with them.)

If the obstruction reappears, it is possible to pursue legal action in order to enforce your easement, by seeking an injunction and/or damages. Such a process can be lengthy and costly, however, and I would therefore recommend that you do endeavour to resolve matters by agreement if this is at all possible, in order to avoid unnecessary cost, hostility and stress.

With regard to the rubbish in your neighbour's garden, you obviously cannot access his property to deal with these yourself. You may, however, wish to contact the Environmental Health Department of your local council, particularly if the nature of the waste gives you cause for concern with regard to rodents, pests etc.

I hope that this assists. If my comments have been helpful in clarifying the legal position I would be grateful if you would confirm by accepting and rating this response. This can be done by selecting one of the five stars located on the top right of the question page and enables me to gain credit for the time taken in responding to your query. This will not close the question and you will still be able to comment below with any additional questions or comments.

Kind regards


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