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Aston Lawyer
Aston Lawyer, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10737
Experience:  LLB(HONS) 23 years of experience in dealing with Conveyancing and Property Law
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Back in 2006, after receiving planning permission we put

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Hi, back in 2006, after receiving planning permission we put a gate in our back wall (pedestrian only) to give access to an un-adopted lane that runs along the side of our house and garden. It provides a quick and safe route to countryside, the local primary school etc. and avoids the need to take a longer route and cross a busy road. We have given permission (and a key) to several of our neighbours to use the gate. Nothing formal, no paperwork involved. We are very happy for our neighbours to keep using the gate but someone mentioned that if they have access for a long time this may eventually become a legal right. I'm concerned that if at some point in the future we want to sell our house, any potential buyers may not be happy about any legal obligation to permit neighbours to cross the property and access the gate. Obviously we don't want to stop our neighbours from using the gate while we live in the house but is there anything we can do to make sure that the permission we have given is not automatically passed on to new owners. Thanks !
Hello and thanks for using Just Answer.
I am Al and am happy to assist you with your enquiry.
If a party uses a right of way/access for 20 years, then they acquire what is called an "easement by prescription", meaning that they have acquired a legal right to continue using the right of way.
Hence, although your neighbours will have to wait until they have been using the access for 20 years, this could cause problems to you.
What you need to do if you are happy for them to continue using the access is for you and them to sign a simple Licence agreement. This document grants them a right to use the access for as long as you wish them to, but can be cancelled at any time either by you or them. This will then prevent them from being able to argue that they have acquired an easement by prescription after 20 years- even if the Licence remains in place for 20 years, it is personal between you and the respective neighbour and the benefit of it can not be passed to anyone else if your neighbours sell their houses.
Likewise, you would be free to terminate the Licence as and when you need to.
A local Conveyancing Solicitor will be able to prepare the Licence for you.
I hope this assists and sets out the legal position.
If I have helped, I would be grateful if you could rate my answer.
Kind Regards
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