Private Right Of Way:Safety/Law

Private Right Of Way:Safety/Law

Postby Swoop » Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:19 pm

Hi
Just wondering if anyone knows what laws/regulations cover the safety of a Private Right of Way?
The scenario is a terraced row of houses with a PROW path running down the entire length at the front of the houses. If the middle house then removed their section of path, and replaced it with a far less safe section of path with an increased trip-hazard, where do the other residents stand legally?
Not sure if Building Control, Rights of way, Health & Safety, or Occupiers Liability are the enforcing rules in the case? Any ideas?
Thanks :)
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Re: Private Right Of Way:Safety/Law

Postby span » Mon Oct 30, 2017 8:09 pm

Swoop wrote:Hi
Just wondering if anyone knows what laws/regulations cover the safety of a Private Right of Way?
The scenario is a terraced row of houses with a PROW path running down the entire length at the front of the houses. If the middle house then removed their section of path, and replaced it with a far less safe section of path with an increased trip-hazard, where do the other residents stand legally?
Not sure if Building Control, Rights of way, Health & Safety, or Occupiers Liability are the enforcing rules in the case? Any ideas?
Thanks :)


who is the land owner?
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Re: Private Right Of Way:Safety/Law

Postby mr sheen » Mon Oct 30, 2017 8:40 pm

Users of a right of way are expected to take appropriate care and negotiate it with due care and attention to their own safety. Beneficiaries of the right of way can repair the pathway if they believe it is unsafe. The landowner does not have to maintain the ROW but it should be clear of obstructions. In reality if you can pass and repass without being obstructed it's unlikely you can force the landowner to do anything. You can clear any obstructions and keep the path maintained at your own expense though if you so wish.
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Re: Private Right Of Way:Safety/Law

Postby Swoop » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:02 pm

As for land owner, it will be owned by the house that has replaced the right of way (outside their own house only).
I was under the impression that others in the street have the right to make this section safe at own cost to ensure safe passage over the land.
I was more interested if the land owner had broken any laws by increasing the risk to neighbours by making a large trip hazard: a nine inch drop/step in path height. I felt sure this was a building regs issue as the step height is excessive (and over spec), which makes the path difficult and dangerous for any elderly, very young, or person with any walking difficulty (i.e. a disabled person) :(
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Re: Private Right Of Way:Safety/Law

Postby Swoop » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:05 pm

As for my first question then, there are no laws to ensure a right of way is kept at all safe by landowner? :(
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Re: Private Right Of Way:Safety/Law

Postby Collaborate » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:40 pm

Well, there is the law of tort - they have a duty of care not to make the path unsafe, but I'm not sure a 9 inch step counts as unsafe.
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Re: Private Right Of Way:Safety/Law

Postby stufe35 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 8:55 am

I believe if they have introduced a step where previously there wasn't one, your action would be one of 'substantial interference' based on previously you could wheel a cart eg. wheelbarrow or wheelchair but now you cannot.

My understanding is there are no 'laws or rules' for private rights of ways, just precidents set by previous case law which can be used as a guide to what might happen should you take your situation to the courts. Careful though the nitty gritty detail can change the outcome..it is no use just looking at a case with an outcome that suits you. You need to look at all similar cases and decide which one is most likely to apply to your situation...to be able to make a guess as to what the outcome of your case might be.

If one large step has replaced 2 you maybe able to bring pressure to bear based on building regulation guidelines for step heights.

You would get much better responses if you just said what was there before and what is there now instead of drip feeding cryptic clues. Also including the wording of your right of way might help clarify matters.
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Re: Private Right Of Way:Safety/Law

Postby Swoop » Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:30 pm

Thanks for the replies everyone, helpful indeed. I didnt think I was being cryptic so here is all the info I have if this helps:
The row of houses were built around 1900. Originally there was a path running all the way down the terrace. The middle house wanted to replace path in front of their house as it looked old, was made of concrete with a few cracks but still sturdy. This section of path was about 15 feet long with a slight taper in height from top to bottom of length. At the end of the path where middle property met the next there was a lip of around 1 inch (path dropped an inch). This was a slight trip hazard but no one did anything about it for decades. New owner has replaced path with concrete again, but left a 9 inch lip/step at end of path where it meets next property. No one in street agreed to this. As this clearly exceeds Building Regs height of step, the council were contacted. They claim as it was an old house no building regs apply to a newly laid path/steps etc concerning an old property. This height would not be allowed even in a private dwelling, so seems odd it is allowed on a public path. The path has no street lighting so is pitch dark at night. There is a disabled person living in the street that really struggles on this new step, again the council say this of no issue and not covered by "access for the disabled" in the building regs.
The deeds wording for the properties in street are thus: "The right to pass and repass at all times and for all purposes in connection with the use and occupation of the property, subject to a similar right in favour of number A" (Number A being the next property down).
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Re: Private Right Of Way:Safety/Law

Postby stufe35 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:50 pm

My understanding is the route to take is "substantial interference". ( Google this term)

My view is that Due to the fact that the nature of the path has been changed i.e. A gently sloping path has become level, with a 9" step at one end severely effecting use by elderly/disabled people and wheeled vehicles such as prams, wheel barrows and wheelchairs , the chances of success would be reasonable.

Check out your house insurance for legal cover.

Others will hopefully come along with their views.
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Re: Private Right Of Way:Safety/Law

Postby MacadamB53 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 3:07 pm

Hi Swoop,

...allowed on a public path...

are we discussing a path over which the public have a legal right to pass and repass above and beyond as a means of visiting the terrace? ie do I have a legal right to walk from one end to the other as part of a longer journey to, say, go to the shops? to ascertain the answer you would need to consult your local Definitive Map & Statement that is maintained by the LA.

kind regards, Mac
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Re: Private Right Of Way:Safety/Law

Postby Swoop » Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:56 pm

Thank you Mac and Stu:)
I agree "substantial interference" does sound the problem here. Indeed the ability to push a wheelchair, pram, pushchair, wheelbarrow etc are now near impossible and I believe all the houses effected by this change have legal insurance so this may be best option. I guess the other option is to pay between them to correct the issue as dominant tenements to the land ?
As for the "public path" question, it is not defined as one. It is defined as a "non-adopted" path and/or a private right of way. The path terminates at the end of the terrace, so is only used by house owners, visitors, postman, milkman, deliveries etc.
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Re: Private Right Of Way:Safety/Law

Postby MacadamB53 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:26 pm

Swoop wrote:Thank you Mac and Stu:)
I agree "substantial interference" does sound the problem here. Indeed the ability to push a wheelchair, pram, pushchair, wheelbarrow etc are now near impossible and I believe all the houses effected by this change have legal insurance so this may be best option. I guess the other option is to pay between them to correct the issue as dominant tenements to the land ?
As for the "public path" question, it is not defined as one. It is defined as a "non-adopted" path and/or a private right of way. The path terminates at the end of the terrace, so is only used by house owners, visitors, postman, milkman, deliveries etc.
in which case it cannot be a public footpath.

I don’t think anyone should be entertaining the idea of seeking legal redress - much simpler and cheaper to exercise their lawful right to bring the RoW up to standard.

kind regards, Mac
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Re: Private Right Of Way:Safety/Law

Postby stufe35 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:14 pm

Mac, I have to disagree on that. They could be accused successfully of criminal damage. First approach is best with the use of pen and paper.

It is by no means cheap or easy to start digging up some one else path on their land whilst they are watching you.
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Re: Private Right Of Way:Safety/Law

Postby MacadamB53 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 12:15 am

Hi stufe,

you’ve misunderstood - I meant for the OP or whoever it is who needs to use the RoW to build a ramp or similar to eliminate the issue, not to start digging up the newly laid surface.

kind regards, Mac
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Re: Private Right Of Way:Safety/Law

Postby mr sheen » Wed Nov 01, 2017 8:42 am

Only a Judge can determine if the step amounts to a 'substantial interference' of a right of way and taking this matter to court would be ludicrously expensive and may not get the step removed.

This is a private right of way so of no concern of the council.

For a private right of way there is a balance between the owner of the land being able to use their land and beneficiaries of the right to pass and repass being able to do so. As long as you can pass and repass then a court will expect you to respect the rights of the owner; equally the court will expect the owner not to substantially interfere with the rights of beneficiaries. The problem here is that a court could go either way, it's not cut and dried....hence it would be a very expensive gamble to seek to pursue this matter.
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