illegal use of ROW and other issues with neighbour from hell

illegal use of ROW and other issues with neighbour from hell

Postby jd230 » Sat Jun 17, 2017 8:56 pm

I have recently moved in to an end of terrace with a ROW behind all the houses to allow access to the main road (usually for bins etc.). The ROW is 5ft behind the 5 terraced houses and 10ft beside my house to the road.

I knew about the ROW before purchasing and have no issue with it but since i've moved in I have noticed that the neighbour uses the ROW ALL THE TIME and never her front door, she also uses it every day to ferry horse feed etc. from her garage on the main road, through the garden and out a gate to the field at the back (she rents the field for her horses and put the gate in herself 5 years ago, there is another entrance from the road but she never uses it), she also insists we keep the full 10ft free at all time, she frequently leaves the gates open and they have recently broken whilst she was using them (found out via CCTV).

I have recently received legal advice telling me that I can park over the access as long as she can still get by, that her use of the access to benefit another property (aka the field) is a wrongful use of the access and that her use is excessive. The solicitor sent her a letter explaining this and have also spoken to her but she hasn't stopped and she is now very angry. She openly admitted to me that she would start being spiteful and do things like leaving the gates open all the time if we were to change the gates (which now need fixing since they broke).

I have a few questions:
- if she broke the gates, is she partially liable for the cost?
- legally what is excessive use? and is there any way to stop her using it excessively?
- does she have to close the gate/leave the ROW the way she found it?
- before I go any further with this, what are my options? Is court an option or a waste of money?
jd230
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:14 am

Ads are not endorsed by www.gardenlaw.co.uk or the staff thereof and visitors should perform their own due diligence on the product or service offered.
 

Re: illegal use of ROW and other issues with neighbour from

Postby mr sheen » Sat Jun 17, 2017 11:10 pm

Don't know where you found the solicitor but you do not seem to have been given accurate information.

Before making threats and claims, it is worth considering 'what can I do about it?' Only if you are going to pursue a legal route all the way AND have a good chance of success should you start sending letters to neighbours since it usually just fuels I'll-feeling and people dig their heels in.

Legitimate users of a right of way are not compelled to close any gates on it.

Users of rights of way can usually use them all the time 24/7.

Excessive use of a right of way is extremely difficult to prove and hence complaining to a legitimate user that they are excessively using their legitimate right of way is likely to back fire. A right of way is usually a right to pass and repass over and along the track/road 24/7. Older terraces started off with all residents living in harmony and helping each other and uses of rights of way expanded beyond what was originally listed in deeds via long-term use resulting in prescriptive rights as well as granted rights. There is no objective definition of excessive use only different perceptions of reasonable use vs excessive.

To control its use you will need to seek an injunction but Proving excessive use may be difficult and expensive. Court is an option but your chances of winning are low and costs will be high...and your responsibility when you lose. Your chance of getting an injunction preventing 'excessive use' of a ROW against someone who has a right of way is extremely slim since it would require 'policing' of reasonable versus excessive use and this is very subjective so courts don't like this scenario at all.

You say 'IF......she broke the gates' so the IF suggests you can't prove it. No proof, no claim unless she admits it.
mr sheen
 
Posts: 2093
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:33 pm

Re: illegal use of ROW and other issues with neighbour from

Postby jd230 » Sat Jun 17, 2017 11:25 pm

Thanks for the response. It sounds like the legal route is a waste of time and money!

Unfortunately, ill-feeling has been there from the start from her. Legal letter was sent as I received 2 letters from her stating her interpretations of the rules of the ROW and how i should/shouldn't be using it (even claiming it was shared land and not my property). I needed clarity so went to a solicitor.

I have CCTV footage of her using the gates and accidentally breaking them.

What about the use for the benefit of the field, is there any way of stopping that?
jd230
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:14 am

Re: illegal use of ROW and other issues with neighbour from

Postby mr sheen » Sun Jun 18, 2017 6:54 am

The only way to restrict her use of it is to try to prove to a Judge in court that she has no right to use the ROW to access the field (which may or may not be the case....with old terraced properties you sometimes find that in the 1940s/50s/60s or even earlier people in the terraces used the tracks to access the properties and all around and hence created private rights of way and elderly people come along and give evidence that they did so for may years). Even if you win in court, because she has a legitimate ROW anyway and has a right to be on the rOW the only issue is where she ends up, the court may not award you all costs.

The issue then is who 'polices' her legitimate use as oppose to accessing the field? and what happens when she accesses the field?

She could argue that the gates shouldn't be obstructing her rOW and if they hadn't been there she couldn't have broken them. It wasn't a deliberate act but an accident anyway. Since it was an accident the owner of the gates could claim on their insurance for accidental damage if they are covered or the owner could remove them if the constant legitimate use is resulting in them breaking.

She may well have had issues of obstruction of her ROW previously, so she wanted to make her position clear. The fact that there are gates on the ROW and she exercises her right not to have to close them seems to support this. The dubious legal advice that you then had may have flared things.

If it was me I would accept that this land is subject to rights by other people (which she may have interpreted as 'shared') and get on with my own life. You aren't going to get far by trying to 'police' the rights of others and may fuel the situation which may result in the beneficiaries of the ROW exercising their legal rights to the max eg teenage children and their hoards of friends come round for coffee late at night, they walk the noisy dog early in the morning etc etc etc (or they make real nuisances of themselves if they understand the implications and difficulties for you of you seeking to prove excessive use of a legitimate ROW in court).
mr sheen
 
Posts: 2093
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:33 pm

Re: illegal use of ROW and other issues with neighbour from

Postby Eliza » Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:48 am

Another one thinking it sounds like you had very dubious legal advice. Many ROW's have a phrase about being able to use it "at all times for all purposes" and I would imagine her deeds have that phrase in too. You can easily pay just a few £s and get a copy of her Title Plan/Register entry from the Land Registry. She doubtless already has these and is quoting from them.

How could there possibly be "excessive use" if that phrase is in there? There couldn't.

As for parking on a Right of Way. No it isn't allowed - that also sounds like dubious legal advice. It is possible for a vehicle to stop on a ROW very briefly. That being the vehicle can stop just long enough to load or unload people and/or goods. But a vehicle cannot park as such on a ROW (even if you are the owner of both the ROW and the vehicle concerned). Check your Highway Code for a start and it makes it clear it's not allowed and I believe the law confirms this.

In her position, then it's fully understandable she is using her ROW. That is exactly as she is allowed to by the sound of it.
Apologies for not giving exact personal details in my posts - you never know who is reading....
Eliza
 
Posts: 301
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2014 6:28 am

Re: illegal use of ROW and other issues with neighbour from

Postby jdfi » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:07 pm

Can we have a sketch to show the houses, the ROW, and the gate to her field?

Do we know on who's land this gate opens onto?
jdfi
 
Posts: 446
Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:39 pm

Re: illegal use of ROW and other issues with neighbour from

Postby ukmicky » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:31 pm

Who owns the ROW

What land is meant to benefit from the ROW the house or the field she rents and do you have a copy of the text.

Parking on a ROW in some circumstances is allowed but depends on who owns it, what it is used for and how much space is available.
.

If the field has no right of way then you can stop her using the row for the benefit of the field . She can use it to access the field for incidental purposes connected with the house but anything more would be excessive user. For instance keeping horses on the field and using the ROW for the purpose of keeping the horses would be more than incidental to the benefit of the house.
Advice given is not legally qualified and you are advised to gain a professional opinion
ukmicky
 
Posts: 4556
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 10:13 pm
Location: London

Re: illegal use of ROW and other issues with neighbour from

Postby jd230 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 9:12 am

I own the land the ROW is over. The bit been parked over is 10 ft but I have additional land to the side so the car only partially crosses the 10 ft, with more than 5ft available for them to pass.

I do have the wording but not to hand. She has the right to pass and re-pass for the benefit of her property (no mention of the field, as i said she rents it so not part of the ROW).

The ROW is for the houses, not the field. She rents the field and installed a gate at the bottom of her garden, the main entrance to the field is from the main road.

It's good to know she is in the wrong but as the other poster pointed out, I can't be there every minute of the day to police it so there is nothing I can do.
jd230
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:14 am

Re: illegal use of ROW and other issues with neighbour from

Postby MacadamB53 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:36 am

Hi jd230,

claiming it was shared land and not my property

that old chestnut - been on the receiving end of that one myself.

anyways, regarding this new gate - can it be accessed directly from the ROW over your land?

same question regarding the field?

Kind regards, Mac
MacadamB53
 
Posts: 6059
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:13 am

Re: illegal use of ROW and other issues with neighbour from

Postby Eliza » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:50 am

Counting the field out of this at the moment - and you quote that "more than 5 feet" is available for a vehicle to pass.

I'm not sure whether that would be sufficient width to cover any except the smallest cars. It certainly wouldn't be sufficient width for a workmans van or a lorry to get past. Hence that could be the reason she is digging her heels in regarding the field. Namely that she can see clearly by the sound of it that some vehicles visiting her house couldnt get past your parked car and it could be she is doing "tit for tat" because of that.

This also raises the point that if a wider vehicle can't get to her house because there is insufficient ROW width for them to do so then you may find they park further down the ROW and block your car from getting back down that ROW. Maybe even not being very concerned as to how long they park their vehicles there blocking yours in.
Apologies for not giving exact personal details in my posts - you never know who is reading....
Eliza
 
Posts: 301
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2014 6:28 am

Re: illegal use of ROW and other issues with neighbour from

Postby arborlad » Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:29 pm

Eliza wrote:Counting the field out of this at the moment - and you quote that "more than 5 feet" is available for a vehicle to pass.

I'm not sure whether that would be sufficient width to cover any except the smallest cars. It certainly wouldn't be sufficient width for a workmans van or a lorry to get past. Hence that could be the reason she is digging her heels in regarding the field. Namely that she can see clearly by the sound of it that some vehicles visiting her house couldnt get past your parked car and it could be she is doing "tit for tat" because of that.

This also raises the point that if a wider vehicle can't get to her house because there is insufficient ROW width for them to do so then you may find they park further down the ROW and block your car from getting back down that ROW. Maybe even not being very concerned as to how long they park their vehicles there blocking yours in.




You have misunderstood - the 10ft way leads to a 5ft way, both owned by the OP, providing everything has been described accurately, there is no possibility of a vehicular ROW, either to the back of the houses or to the field.


"..........and you quote that "more than 5 feet" is available for a vehicle to pass."...........that is not what the OP has said.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people
arborlad
 
Posts: 7403
Joined: Sun Jul 09, 2006 6:30 pm
Location: Hertfordshire

Re: illegal use of ROW and other issues with neighbour from

Postby Luigi Mario » Thu Jun 22, 2017 2:37 pm

First off I want to bring up the word 'illegal' you used in your title. I'm not having a go at you but illegal generally should come under a criminal offence and the police or a body who monitor these things should be notified. Do you believe your neighbour is causing criminal acts by moving horse feed through a right of way on your property to hers? The answer should be NO! I would also advise you not to use illegal ever again when referring to your neighbour using her right of way to move horse feed. The correct word you should be using is Unlawful, which is debatable in your situation. Unlawful is a lesser offence and generally where trespass comes under.

Sadly your situation isn't clear cut, there is no clear winner and could hike up court costs. This is the reality of your situation because your neighbour is exercising her entitled rights to use her rights of way over your land to get to hers. She maybe going to a field afterwards but the end of the day she is going to her property first before going onto a neighbouring field. She could be fetching something from her house or garden before going to the field. This is where you need to be careful of and this what the courts will consider in a court case that could go up £3000 or even £40000.

Next thing is courts and solicitors have a difference of opinions. They after all human like your neighbour. So while your solicitor may say one thing but the courts could say otherwise.

What you should be doing is getting your neighbour to repair or replace the gate or gates she has damage. You haven't said how she is getting the horse feed through your garden but I imagine it's either a trailer or wheel barrel. If she is showing neglect to your property it may be considered an excess of her rights of way. Make sure you photograph, save the recording and have a log book on the matter. You may be able to get an injunction through this route especially your neighbour isn't using the official gate to the horse's field. However, this is in the long road and it all depends on how many gates she is breaking and refusing to pay for in the long run.
Luigi Mario
 
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:31 pm

Re: illegal use of ROW and other issues with neighbour from

Postby ukmicky » Fri Jun 23, 2017 12:23 am

As for the gates ,she is not responsible for their repair unless she deliberately damaged them.
Advice given is not legally qualified and you are advised to gain a professional opinion
ukmicky
 
Posts: 4556
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 10:13 pm
Location: London

Re: illegal use of ROW and other issues with neighbour from

Postby jdfi » Sun Jun 25, 2017 2:02 pm

jd230 wrote:
The ROW is for the houses, not the field. She rents the field and installed a gate at the bottom of her garden, the main entrance to the field is from the main road.



To be clear, has she cut a gate from her field to the ROW that you have ownership of, or is the gate from her house to the ROW?
jdfi
 
Posts: 446
Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:39 pm

Re: illegal use of ROW and other issues with neighbour from

Postby jonahinoz » Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:32 am

Hi,

I'm guessing that your neighbour lives at the other end of a terrace, as she has a garage. Is that garage built on the equivalent of your 10ft wide strip, and the ROW originally was a crescent? Do you have a ROW on the 5ft strip behind the other houses ... and through her garage?

Probably not, but worth checking.

John W
jonahinoz
 
Posts: 1354
Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2011 5:15 pm

Ads are not endorsed by www.gardenlaw.co.uk or the staff thereof and visitors should perform their own due diligence on the product or service offered.
 

Return to Rights of Way

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Google Adsense [Bot] and 3 guests