Rights of Way

A right of way is the right of an owner of one property to pass over the property or land of another. Disputes between neighbours can often centre on the extent of the right of way and the responsibilities and obligations that form as a result of the existence of the right of way.

The most common disputes regarding rights of way occur when:

  • Dispute as to whether the right of way exists

There are many ways a right of way can come into existence.

The details of the right of way can often be found in the transfer deed. For example, where there is a row of terrace houses, there may be a right of way across the back garden of the end house so that the owners of the middle houses can access the rear of their properties.

A right of way may also be acquired by continued use.  This is known as a prescriptive right of way. Often, the user will need to show that they have enjoyed the right of way for a continuous period of 20 years.

A landowner can provide a licence to another person to use a path or road across their land.  This may prevent a prescriptive right of way being acquired and the right may be terminated by the landowner.

  • Failure to maintain a right of way

Often a right of way is along a private road or path.  If the condition of the road or path falls into a state of disrepair then this may obstruct the right of way.  The user of the right of way may well, however, have an obligation to contribute to the upkeep of the road or path.

  • Interference with a right of way

This may occur where a neighbour locks the gates, parks their vehicle or in some other way obstructs your right of way over their land.

Although land owners are entitled to secure and enjoy their land and property, they should ensure that they do so without inferring with a right of way.

Should a dispute arise about a right of way then we would recommend:

  • Talking to your neighbour in an appropriate manner that does not inflame the situation
  • Obtain the relevant title documents from the Land Registry – many of which are available to download from their website, review the documents provided to you when you bought the property including any historical title deeds and forms completed by the previous owner. All of these may provide the answer
  • Speak to a solicitor in the Dispute Resolution team at Sintons who will combine their expert technical knowledge with a practical approach in order to provide you with comprehensive advice and a tailored solution

For more information about our expertise and how we could help you, please contact us.