Question: I am in the process of buying a semi-detached house.
The neighbour also owns a detached house to the right-hand side as you look at the properties from the road, and he has a small gate in his boundary fence so he can access both of his gardens via our driveway. What is the best way to deal with this, as we don’t want him using our driveway when we complete the purchase?
Answer: Look at the title deeds to see whether the neighbouring property has a right of way over the driveway to access the gate. Alternatively, the seller’s replies to the Property Information Form may disclose if there is an informal right of way.
Further, the seller and neighbour may have entered into a deed of easement to grant a formal right of way over the driveway which perhaps has not yet been registered at the Land Registry.
However, if none of the above applies and the neighbour is simply using the driveway without authority, your solicitor should establish if he can be prevented from doing so. Consideration will have to be given, for example, to the matter of how long he has been using the driveway to access his garden, and whether the sellers have ever objected or complained — because rights of access can be acquired in a number of ways.
It is important to ensure that the situation is resolved to your satisfaction before you exchange contracts, as the last thing you want to do is buy a property subject to any sort of neighbour dispute.
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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email email@example.com or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE.
We regret that questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a legal director in the private wealth group of Foot Anstey.