Neighbours right of access through courtyard +Plant pots etc

Neighbours right of access through courtyard +Plant pots etc

Postby markfleet » Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:33 pm

Hi

I was hoping someone here may be able to give me some advice for my current situation. The scenario is that I bought a house in November. The building is a few hundred years old and was converted into separate houses maybe 100+ years ago. As such it is slightly quirky with flying freeholds etc. I own a courtyard at the back of the building although 2 neighbours have right of access through my courtyard (neighbour 1 has their back door in the courtyard. Neighbour 2 has their one and only door in our courtyard due to the strange shape of the building).

Neighbour 1 own their house and have lived their 10+ years. They are in their 60’s I imagine and seem to have retired. Neighbour 2 rents his property which is currently unoccupied. Previous occupier was not any issue.

Now my problems are with Neighbour 1 who seem treat our courtyard almost as their own. I think it doesn’t help as our house was rented + empty for a while prior to use moving in so they could get away with using the courtyard more previously. Since we moved in we noticed there were several plant pots and other garden items in the courtyard which we were not sure who they belonged. We were not too concerned initially due to winter + a newborn to keep us occupied. The other day however we found that neighbour 1 had gone out and planted loads of new plants in our courtyard including a hanging basket off the side of our house. We had planned to turn the courtyard into more of a sitting area this weekend giving it a bit of a clear out, clean the patio etc so these new pots etc were a problem. We also wanted to obviously set the ground rules now so we don’t have issues in the future. I therefore knocked and very politely said something along the lines of “I hope you don’t mind but I noticed that you were planting in our courtyard today. We actually had some plans… etc etc”. He said that almost everything in the courtyard was theirs and that he would move it all into his garden (yes they have their own garden anyway). This has now been done with only a couple of small items remaining which I guess we inherited from the previous owner of our house.

The other issue we had with this neighbour was a few months ago when I was decorating our newborns nursery which meant to removal of carpets etc. These were rolled up and neatly put in the courtyard along the side of our wall with some other DIY rubbish but all neatly in building bags and not blocking access or near anyone’s door at all. Despite it being our courtyard anyway, we and my partner both politely apologised to our neighbours in passing and told them were getting my partner’s dad to take the carpet etc in his van to the dump when he was free. This didn’t happen instantly as we were still working on the room and creating small amounts of extra rubbish + my partners dad hadn’t been available so the items were there for a couple of weeks. One day when we came home from work (actually on the Thursday before us having arranged to remove the items on the Saturday) our neighbour stuck his head out of the door and said something along the lines of “Oh we were just wondering when you were going to get rid of the rubbish. We have guests coming over soon and Sally (his wife) is getting a bit depressed by it” etc etc. We were somewhat thrown by this and therefore apologised and told him we were getting rid at the weekend which we did. After entering our house we were very annoyed that we had been asked this as we believe it is our right to use our courtyard as we wish. The final straw was on the day when we removed the rubbish. After doing so the ground was wet underneath where the carpets had been so I was going to return in an hour or so to give the courtyard a sweep (leaves etc that had built up around the items). Before we had a chance to do so, almost straight away we heard sweeping. Looking out the window we saw the neighbour was now sweeping the courtyard as if it was his own.

Apologies for the essay but I just wanted to know what my neighbours rights actually are just in case any further issues arise? Do they have any right to put anything in our courtyard at all or are they only entitled to use it purely to walk through to get to their back door? Presumably they also cannot tell us how to use the courtyard at all providing it is not causing them any issues for access, noise, pollution etc?

Any advice is greatly appreciated!!!!
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Re: Neighbours right of access through courtyard +Plant pots

Postby span » Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:45 pm

Calm down, it's not as bad as you think it is. Don't go making trouble for yourselves when a bit of settling in and rubbing along will work far better.
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Re: Neighbours right of access through courtyard +Plant pots

Postby markfleet » Thu Jun 28, 2012 1:25 pm

I am actually very calm and don't intend to cause any trouble whatsover. Both issues did bother me but I did not show this to the neighbours. I was nothing but polite and probably more polite than I needed to (i.e. apologising for carpets in my own courtyard). The courtyard is all we have in the way of a garden and I'm sure anyone would be bothered if they did not feel like it was there own (where I would literally feel I could not touch anything out there in case it was not ours). Obviously I want to be able to use it, make changes etc without feeling this could cause upset.

I do actually get on with the neighbours, have been in their house, they always ask how our baby is etc. The reason I am posting, is just so I know where we all stand. I'm sure there will never be any further issues but particularly as the other property with access to our courtyard is to be rented, then it would be good to know everyone's rights.
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Re: Neighbours right of access through courtyard +Plant pots

Postby hzatph » Thu Jun 28, 2012 2:51 pm

Yeah, this is tricky despite span's most excellent advice. The problem is that from No 1's perspective this is the approach to their home and they are used to having it the way that they like it. They "know" but have not got used to the fact that it is yours - this is a very familiar experience. Things have gone quite well so far, believe me, and that is a credit to you. You just need to explain that it is very kind of them to clear up like that but you would prefer it if they did not. Be polite, not-antagonistic but clear and with increasing firmness.
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Re: Neighbours right of access through courtyard +Plant pots

Postby juliet » Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:42 pm

Yes, I would agree with that. It is about getting ownership back effectively. Are they aware though of the situation? My neighbours have a ROW across my drive but treated like an extension to their house. When I confronted them, they thought that the land was shared between us. I have to give them a copy of our deeds to show that it was our land. Maybe it is about doing subtle things like pots, benches and stuff to get your ownership back,
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Re: Neighbours right of access through courtyard +Plant pots

Postby withreason » Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:03 pm

juliet wrote:Yes, I would agree with that. It is about getting ownership back effectively. Are they aware though of the situation? My neighbours have a ROW across my drive but treated like an extension to their house. When I confronted them, they thought that the land was shared between us. I have to give them a copy of our deeds to show that it was our land. Maybe it is about doing subtle things like pots, benches and stuff to get your ownership back,


Good luck with that! My new-ish neighbours have seen that we own the drive they have a right of way over, but they have the other new-ish neighbours dragging up old documents when it was owned by a common owner of all three properties and refuse to accept that the drive was sold with our property, being the first of the three sold by the common owner. They do not understand what a right of way is, they seem to think it's something that we can all use rather like a public footpath, as in "we all have a right of way over the drive". No we do not, an owner does not need a right of way, they simply have a right as owners.

I tell this so that you are prepared when or if you cannot convince your neighbour of your ownership, and if they happen to want to own it then they may become very abusive. There seems to be something about some people who do not own a drive, as if they feel it's a threat to their existence.

I would also be wary of the no.1 neighbour of the OP, if he has used the courtyard for all the time he has been living there he might think he can claim it as his own even if he really does know it's not his. It seems he doesn't want to give up his control, tread carefully. Somehow he needs to know he only has the right to pass and repass, that seems to give rise to feelings of "I'm being treated like a second class citizen" no matter how politely you try to tell them.
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Re: Neighbours right of access through courtyard +Plant pots

Postby markfleet » Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:37 am

Thank you all for your excellent advice

They do already luckily acknowledge that we own the courtyard so luckily we shouldn’t therefore be in the same situation as Juliet or withreason. The reason being that there was a time a while ago when I was doing so small DIY jobs out there (using a plane on a door) and apologised when they walked by as I knew there would be a small amount of noise etc. Him and his wife both responded with something along the lines of “oh no don’t worry…it’s your courtyard”. Makes things more simple therefore.

Like hzatph said, I will very politely mention anything that does step on our toes. We added a small table + chairs last night and plan to do some other little bits over the weekend and the rest of summer so I am hoping this fully regain our ownership in their minds.

I am a bit worried about the awkward feeling if we are sitting out there and if they do feel like “a second class citizen” as per withreason having to walk quickly through past us. I am hoping this won’t cause any issues but hopefully as long as we are all still polite and make conversation as they go through then fingers crossed.

Thanks again all. I will give a further update if anything else occurs.
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Re: Neighbours right of access through courtyard +Plant pots

Postby withreason » Fri Jun 29, 2012 1:14 pm

markfleet wrote:I am a bit worried about the awkward feeling if we are sitting out there and if they do feel like “a second class citizen” as per withreason having to walk quickly through past us. I am hoping this won’t cause any issues but hopefully as long as we are all still polite and make conversation as they go through then fingers crossed.

Thanks again all. I will give a further update if anything else occurs.


Having experienced increasing harassment from my neighbours, where they were going to do what they damned well pleased no matter what was legal or what was just plain consideration for neighbours, I thought a forewarning might help you to understand that your friendly neighbours (as mine started off) might turn against you.

Looking back, I think we were a little too accommodating, but that's the sort of people we are. Unfortunately not everyone is the same, beware people who are too nice, and a little stand-offish at the same time, they try to fool you into a false sense of security before shattering your empire. I sincerely hope this doesn't happen to you.
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Re: Neighbours right of access through courtyard +Plant pots

Postby Fairperson » Fri Jun 29, 2012 5:35 pm

Re greeting your neighbours, when they use their right of way across your courtyard, ayt imes when you are enjoying it as your outdoor space:

My suggestion is - don't feel that you always have to be available to chat.
Fine to greet, but sometimes, just continue doing whatever you're doing - chatting with your family, playing with your baby, reading a book.
You have a right to enjoy your space without being socially available, unless you choose to.
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Re: Neighbours right of access through courtyard +Plant pots

Postby COGGY » Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:01 pm

Yes I totally agree with fairperson. We moved here 24 years ago and accepted things we should have challenged as we wanted to be friendly neighbours. We have now suffered for it. We are now establishing our rights but no longer speak to one lot of neighbours. It is so easy to be too friendly and easygoing and then be taken advantage of. So yes be friendly with the neighbours but do not be taken advantage of.
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Re: Neighbours right of access through courtyard +Plant pots

Postby markfleet » Wed Jul 04, 2012 8:26 am

Thought I would give a bit of an update on how the weekend etc went.

Thursday night I mentioned, we had put a small metal table + chairs in the courtyard. My partner was at home friday with our newborn and saw our neighbour (the husband) out of the window go through the courtyard but then stop at the table. He was apparently looking all around it almost as if checking it was suitable. Later my partner was out the house and when arriving home and going through the courtyard she found my neighbour (the wife) in the courtyard with a small dog (I think it was a family member's who was visiting). She was pouring a watering can into a gap between the courtyard slabs to make a puddle for the dog to drink. Now this hasnt bothered me that much but it does seem somewhat cheeky. I mean I understand that they can bring dogs etc through the right of way but that was pushing it a bit. At the same time my partner looked to the new table to see the neighbours mug sitting on top - although removed shortly after. Probably nothing I am sure but did seem a bit too coincidental.

After that things actually got better. On sunday we spent a lot of time doing bits in the courtyard i.e. using patio cleaner, planting, adding our own hanging basket etc to make it our own feeling. Stragely later sunday the neighbour (wife) popped her head out and started making conversation along the lines of "You've been busy" and we talked about various things I wanted to do in the courtyard, small repairs etc. Even stranger the husband got back from their alotment shortly after and the wife suddenly came out with a small bunch of flowers from the alotment asking if my partner would like them which was nice.

Obviously there were some mixed messages therefore since my last post. Maybe they realised the tension, appreciated the work he had done to the courtyard or were ust trying to butter us up to then try and continue using it...I am not sure. For now I am not going to think anything of any of it and will just wait and see. Nothing has happened yet this week however the weather has been awful here so none of us have been outside.
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Re: Neighbours right of access through courtyard +Plant pots

Postby APF » Thu Jul 05, 2012 10:09 am

I have a feeling about how this will unravel:

You've quite rightly asserted your claim to the space.
They've subtly "marked their lampost" with the mug and puddle (that could be a pub name!)
They've then made a point of ingratiating themselves with you/your wife with the flowers

I predict that they' will increasingly hover around the area, sit at the table, sweep up "for everybody's benefit" and otherwise continue to treat the courtyard as a shared area.

The point of their ingratiating behaviour will be to make it doubly awkward for you to suddenly say "look old chap, don't mean to be difficult, but we'd really rather you didn't sit at our table/do this/do that/do the other in our courtyard" etc etc

This will be rewarded with a look of absolute incredulity, likely followed by a period of sullen refusal to meet your eye, eventually leading to a challenge: "Look old bean, I really have to point out that we have a right of way - the courtyard is for everyone's enjoyment"

You'll explain that "right to pass & repass on foot" does not mean stop and read the paper at your table and it will degenerate from there. If you're lucky they simply won't speak to you any more. If you're unlucky they'll start allowing the dog to pee up your table leg, poop in the corner, plants might start "wilting" and it goes downhill from there.

I hope I'm wrong.
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Re: Neighbours right of access through courtyard +Plant pots

Postby span » Thu Jul 05, 2012 11:47 am

APF wrote:I have a feeling about how this will unravel:

You've quite rightly asserted your claim to the space.
They've subtly "marked their lampost" with the mug and puddle (that could be a pub name!)
They've then made a point of ingratiating themselves with you/your wife with the flowers

I predict that they' will increasingly hover around the area, sit at the table, sweep up "for everybody's benefit" and otherwise continue to treat the courtyard as a shared area.

The point of their ingratiating behaviour will be to make it doubly awkward for you to suddenly say "look old chap, don't mean to be difficult, but we'd really rather you didn't sit at our table/do this/do that/do the other in our courtyard" etc etc

This will be rewarded with a look of absolute incredulity, likely followed by a period of sullen refusal to meet your eye, eventually leading to a challenge: "Look old bean, I really have to point out that we have a right of way - the courtyard is for everyone's enjoyment"

You'll explain that "right to pass & repass on foot" does not mean stop and read the paper at your table and it will degenerate from there. If you're lucky they simply won't speak to you any more. If you're unlucky they'll start allowing the dog to pee up your table leg, poop in the corner, plants might start "wilting" and it goes downhill from there.

I hope I'm wrong.



Might be right, might be wrong, but it's a good case study in subtle manipulation. Watch out for it, be be wary of pre-empting a conflict trying to avoid exactly this.

Tricky one.
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Re: Neighbours right of access through courtyard +Plant pots

Postby KIRK » Sun Apr 09, 2017 9:37 pm

I moved to a court yard owned/shared by Three I was polite at first and the realised next door was bit by bit turning the court yard into a garden and worse still after telling me that all the things inside the store outer house had been there even before she moved in(what she did not tell all the items belong to my house left by the previous owner) and she scrapped everything.
I purchased a brand new car,this seemed to have turned her and the daughter green.
It really is annoying being the only bloke as I am sure they would think twice if female was living with me.
The courtyard has 3 parking spaces `but` the next door daughter just parks at an angle because mother has washing lines across the parking space.I have spoke politely and directly to the mother on two occasions and tried to explain that no one has a garden here but each time she started crying and saying she is old and not well and accusing me of hating foreigners.
I am at my wits end with these two stupid and very spiteful people but if I put my house for sale then would be buyers will take a look at the courtyard and see next door is not following the rules meaning the would be buyers will be put off or not wanting to get into a dispute.
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Re: Neighbours right of access through courtyard +Plant pots

Postby Collaborate » Sun Apr 09, 2017 11:18 pm

Hi Kirk.

Can I suggest you start a new thread with this query?

And before you repost it, can you read through it and try and get it to make some sense? I'm finding it really hard to understand.
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