What counts as 'substantial' obstruction in foot passageway?

Re: What counts as 'substantial' obstruction in foot passage

Postby Dandelion » Mon Oct 08, 2012 10:27 pm

Victory! Big thanks to Sudynim, Andrew54 and Gazelle who gave me helpful advice and encouragement. The side passageway has been cleared of bicycles, today my neighbour's son was building a bike shed in their garden, and this evening I happily took the bins through without having to move a load of obstructions.

Following the suggestions I received here, I gathered all the free legal advice I could, from this site, the Citizens Advice Bureau, the legal-advice helpline provided through my house insurance, and a lawyer who gave me some brief information free of charge. All useful, but the Garden Law site was the most practical and helpful.

I did everything by the book and put everything in writing, corresponding with my neighbours by email (their rude, aggressive responses would have backed my case if it had come to court). When they stopped responding to emails I printed each one out and posted it through their door. Also, I took a photo of the obstructed passage every day. I stayed polite, ignoring their constant provocations.

I wasted a bit of time by being, at first, very conciliatory and doing some favours for them in the hope that they would be reasonable, and then by extending the deadline I had given them twice. Also, having originally refused to move the bicycles myself, I did eventually start shoving them out of the way, having written to say that I took no responsibility for any accidental damage that might be caused (though I'm not sure about the legal status of that disclaimer).

But finally I sent the neighbours a recorded-delivery letter warning them that this was my last contact before starting legal action, which was likely to cost them a lot of money.

That did the trick. After two months of refusing to clear the passageway, they gave in! The old lady who sold us her house had to put up with the obstructions for over 20 years. She was a disabled pensioner, so feeling angry about this helped keep me going. Other people in the area have admitted they wished they'd stood up to these neighbours in the past -- that also helped me, as I realised (a) it wasn't just me and (b) if I gave in they would never stop causing a nuisance.

I realise I had an easy ride in some ways. The neighbours aren't terrifying thugs, but an educated middle-class family who knew the law was on my side and didn't want the cost of losing in court. They were able to bully a disabled old lady, and manipulated other neighbours with passive-aggressive behaviour (aggressively accusing people of bullying them!), but I was forewarned so this didn't work on me. And it was a straightforward case -- my right of access was clearly stated in the house deeds, and the advice given in this Garden Law thread cleared up my only concern which was about what a court would consider obstruction.

So, many thanks to Sudynim, Andrew54, Gazelle and the organisers of the Garden Law site. And best of luck to everyone with troublesome neighbours.
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Re: What counts as 'substantial' obstruction in foot passage

Postby andrew54 » Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:25 pm

Well done dandelion. Thanks for letting us all know.
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Re: What counts as 'substantial' obstruction in foot passage

Postby Sudynim » Sun Oct 14, 2012 1:27 pm

Yes, very well done. A set-piece example of courteous, patient, firm assertion of your rights. Others who come here for help in future will find it informative and encouraging.
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Re: What counts as 'substantial' obstruction in foot passage

Postby meandmedog » Wed Nov 21, 2012 11:39 pm

thanks for you reply to this person, i found it really useful. i have have had similar issues, in that until recently my neighbours have 'shoved' a parasol base in front of their ill repaired gate, causing issuses with the unlevel slabs and at times causing me to rip my clothing on the rabbit hutch which had nails sticking out. they also keep bikes in the way and we have frequently to move things to get through. not helped by the fact that he seems to let his dog out on purpose everytime i walk thorough.

my deeds state something about private enjoyment of the premises which presumably means that i cannot use it the access to use the log cabin which i use for grooming dogs. they have asked that i don t take them through as it upsets their dog (it pissing up my leg when i walk through upsets me but thats by the by!) x
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Re: What counts as 'substantial' obstruction in foot passage

Postby andrew54 » Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:08 pm

meandmedog wrote:my deeds state something about private enjoyment of the premises which presumably means that i cannot use it the access to use the log cabin which i use for grooming dogs.


Your right of way over your neighbours land usually means to access any part of your land - house - garden - log cabin etc. But if you are running a business in your log cabin without planning permission it will only be a matter of time before the neighbour puts a stop to it.
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