Access rights with complications...

StaffordshireBlue
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2017 11:20 am

Access rights with complications...

Post by StaffordshireBlue » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:40 am

Hello all

This is my first time posting here, and it concerns two separate, but linked issues which I hope won't come across as confusing.

I'm also going to separate this into the (lengthy) background, details of the dispute and then then post my specific questions at the bottom.


Background

There is an access path (shaded blue) running at the end of the garden for houses A1 (mine), A2 and A3. Houses A1 and A2 own this (boundaries marked with blue dotted line) and it provides formally - through the title deeds - access to the road from the gardens of all three A-houses.

Over the years, some owners of the B-houses have installed gates in their boundary fence in order to also use the path that leads to the road in the belief that the path was common land. The B-houses also clubbed together to install the gate at the road (previously it was an open path) around 20 years ago. The key to this gate was provided to the former owner of our house (A1).

In terms of the specifics:

1. B1 does not have a gate from their property to the path as there is a garage at the end of their garden blocking the way.
2. B2 installed the gate a few years ago, we were aware of this and gave them permission to use our land as a path to the road
3. B3 (we believe) had their gate installed around 2007
4. B4 is divided into two flats. The ground floor flat, B4A, has access to the path via a gate in the fence, installed (we believe) no earlier than 1998. Flat B4B is a top floor flat with no independent direct access to the path.
5. B5 installed the gate around a decade ago.

As an additional note, when we purchased the house in 2014, and found out that the B-houses were not aware that the path was owned by the A-houses. When we realised this, we wrote to all of them and said that we were happy for them to continue to use the path through our land (although we could not speak for the path section owned by A2).

And this is where the dispute comes in!

Dispute

(i) The owner of B4A insists that because all the B-houses have had a key to the gate at the road they all have a right of access through our land (and, in the case of B5 and B4A/B, through the land owned by A2) regardless of whether they can directly access the path from their properties. We do not believe this to be accurate and have understood that a legal right of access to the path depends on the B-houses being able to walk along it and then access their properties directly.

(ii) She also believes that B-houses have the right to copy and distribute that key as they see fit. As our garden can be directly accessed from the path, we are very uncomfortable with this and the security implications (not just for us, but for the other property owners with boundaries to the path).

Questions

(a) Is it possible for someone to earn access to our path even if they cannot directly access their property from that path?
(b) Are we able to replace the lock on the gate with one where the key can only be copied by ourselves - thus preventing people making and distributing their own copies (bearing in mind that two of the houses in this situation have a legal right to use the access path).
(c) Assuming that (b) is possible, are we able to restrict copies of the keys to one per household?

Just to stress, we have no intention of preventing any of the B-houses from using the path. As the A-houses already require access to be kept open it would be churlish and un-neighbourly to stop the B-houses using it. All we'd like to do is confirm who it is reasonable to provide keys to, and whether we can restrict copying of the keys in order to have a modicum of security.

Thank you for your time in reading this. Please do let me know if I can clarify anything.

StaffordshireBlue
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

MacadamB53
Posts: 6314
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 pm
Number of Posts per Page: 100
Number of topics per page: 50

Re: Access rights with complications...

Post by MacadamB53 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:52 am

Hi StaffordshireBlue,

Questions

(a) Is it possible for someone to earn access to our path even if they cannot directly access their property from that path?


you mean can a property acquire a RoW over land that doesn’t connect to that property? no
if not, yes - a person could acquire a personal right to use your land - but that isn’t really what is being discussed.

(b) Are we able to replace the lock on the gate with one where the key can only be copied by ourselves - thus preventing people making and distributing their own copies (bearing in mind that two of the houses in this situation have a legal right to use the access path).

easy - you could, but that wouldn’t be right because it is the properties, not the people, which enjoy a RoW over your land so absolutely anybody with a lawful reason to visit those properties must be able to visit them at will (they shouldn’t have to call in advance to arrange for a key from you or anybody).

[/i](c) Assuming that (b) is possible, are we able to restrict copies of the keys to one per household?[/i]
see previous answer.

my suggestion - remove the lock from the gate (or simply remove the gate) to avoid confusion as to who is responsible for providing security to each property.

kind regards, Mac

StaffordshireBlue
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2017 11:20 am

Re: Access rights with complications...

Post by StaffordshireBlue » Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:15 pm

Hello Mac

Thanks so much for this. A few questions following from your response.

1. Under what circumstances could a person acquire a personal right to use our land?

2. All houses want the gate to be in place and to be lockable - to remove it would create a whole new level of dispute!

If the RoW A-houses also wanted the key to be copyable-only-by-us in order to restrict duplication by the B-houses, would it be acceptable for them to provide written permission for us to do this? I appreciate that it would probably mean reviewing the agreement on a set basis in case circumstances changed (e.g. change of freeholder).

Thanks again

StaffordshireBlue

MacadamB53
Posts: 6314
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 pm
Number of Posts per Page: 100
Number of topics per page: 50

Re: Access rights with complications...

Post by MacadamB53 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:36 pm

Hi StaffordshireBlue,

1. this isn’t relevant so let’s not go into it

2. fair enough (why would you removing a gate off your land create a dispute?!?)

if that’s what everybody wants then do it - however, you’ll all need to make sure that any prospective purchaser isn’t mislead into believing they must comply with the agreement (and you need to understand that, depending on how the agreement is written, you may even be found liable if one of the others misleads their buyer in this matter).

kind regards, Mac

StaffordshireBlue
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2017 11:20 am

Re: Access rights with complications...

Post by StaffordshireBlue » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:57 pm

why would you removing a gate off your land create a dispute?!?
I should clarify that I'm not using dispute in the legal sense of the term!

We're in a very dense urban environment and the pathway was gated after attracting drug addicts and fly tipping. The pathway has previously been used by burglars as a way of getting into people's back gardens unobserved and if we removed the gate the neighbours would consider that an open invitation to all burglars and a deliberate attempt on our behalf to undermine the security of their properties.

Understood on the copyable-key position. It may be easier to live and let live on this one.

Thanks again for all your help.

jonahinoz
Posts: 1507
Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2011 5:15 pm

Re: Access rights with complications...

Post by jonahinoz » Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:20 pm

2. All houses want the gate to be in place and to be lockable - to remove it would create a whole new level of dispute!

Hi,

As far as I am aware, nobody is obliged to shut a gate behind them.

If your neighbours demand a gate, could that be construed as obstructing your ROW?

I hate unnecessary gates.

602

StaffordshireBlue
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2017 11:20 am

Re: Access rights with complications...

Post by StaffordshireBlue » Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:01 pm

Hi Jonah

To be fair... We also want a gate. We take our rubbish out that way and it does improve security.

It's the indescriminate copying and distributing of keys that bothers me!

jdfi
Posts: 547
Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:39 pm
Number of Posts per Page: 20
Number of topics per page: 50

Re: Access rights with complications...

Post by jdfi » Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:45 pm

It may be worth an annual letter (perhaps jointly A1 and A2) to all the B houses reminding them that they do not have formal permission to use this alley, but that you and A2 will allow them permission to use "for the time being" provided they comply with your reasonable rules.

However, it may be too late......

MacadamB53
Posts: 6314
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 pm
Number of Posts per Page: 100
Number of topics per page: 50

Re: Access rights with complications...

Post by MacadamB53 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:09 pm

Hi StaffordshireBlue,

here’s an idea - all property owners make their own properties as secure as they want and the gate is left unlocked.

with it being pedestrian only the gate could have a self-close mechanism fitted and given the appearance of a fence.

kind regards, Mac

arborlad
Posts: 7732
Joined: Sun Jul 09, 2006 6:30 pm
Location: Hertfordshire

Re: Access rights with complications...

Post by arborlad » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:47 pm

MacadamB53 wrote:my suggestion - remove the lock from the gate (or simply remove the gate) to avoid confusion as to who is responsible for providing security to each property.



You seem fixated on removing the additional security a locked gate in that location provides.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people

MacadamB53
Posts: 6314
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 pm
Number of Posts per Page: 100
Number of topics per page: 50

Re: Access rights with complications...

Post by MacadamB53 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:52 am

arborlad wrote:
MacadamB53 wrote:my suggestion - remove the lock from the gate (or simply remove the gate) to avoid confusion as to who is responsible for providing security to each property.



You seem fixated on removing the additional security a locked gate in that location provides.
because it saddles the OP with the responsibility of keeping all other properties secure - and it is not in keeping with the intention of a RoW.

kind regards, Mac

jonahinoz
Posts: 1507
Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2011 5:15 pm

Re: Access rights with complications...

Post by jonahinoz » Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:12 am

Hi,

OK, the OP wants a gate. It's his choice, his concern is in the locking arrangements.

It seems that some of the neighbours have the option of complying with the OPs wishes, or stop using the gate. A no brainer ...

Comply = have a gate. They don't have to use it.

Don't comply = don't have the use of the gate, so compliance is academic.

Question ... could this gate be considered an emergency assess route by the Fire Brigade. I believe they have some system of opening locked gates, without damage, but I don't know how. Worth investigating? It might be radio controlled.

John W

arborlad
Posts: 7732
Joined: Sun Jul 09, 2006 6:30 pm
Location: Hertfordshire

Re: Access rights with complications...

Post by arborlad » Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:29 am

MacadamB53 wrote:
arborlad wrote:
MacadamB53 wrote:my suggestion - remove the lock from the gate (or simply remove the gate) to avoid confusion as to who is responsible for providing security to each property.



You seem fixated on removing the additional security a locked gate in that location provides.
because it saddles the OP with the responsibility of keeping all other properties secure - and it is not in keeping with the intention of a RoW.

kind regards, Mac



Neither was drug use, fly tipping and burglary: We're in a very dense urban environment and the pathway was gated after attracting drug addicts and fly tipping. The pathway has previously been used by burglars as a way of getting into people's back gardens unobserved and if we removed the gate the neighbours would consider that an open invitation to all burglars and a deliberate attempt on our behalf to undermine the security of their properties.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people

MacadamB53
Posts: 6314
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 pm
Number of Posts per Page: 100
Number of topics per page: 50

Re: Access rights with complications...

Post by MacadamB53 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:35 pm

Hi arborlad,

as owner of the pathway, the OP is best placed to evaluate the reliability of the hearsay propagated by the very same people who unlawfully erected the gate on my predecessor’s land 20 years ago - me, I’d ignore it, remove the gate, and then respond accordingly if any such problems arose in the future.

kind regards, Mac

arborlad
Posts: 7732
Joined: Sun Jul 09, 2006 6:30 pm
Location: Hertfordshire

Re: Access rights with complications...

Post by arborlad » Tue Jan 30, 2018 1:19 pm

MacadamB53 wrote:............ the OP is best placed to evaluate ..............


I shall await that evaluation.

For the OP: can you confirm that you own the gate, that is - you own the land the gate is attached to?

Have you considered a numerical keypad for the locking of the gate?
arborlad

smile...it confuses people

Post Reply