Rights of way across private land are often seen as fundamental rights by the people involved. This means that if rights of way are interfered with, disputes are often quick to follow.
Maybe you have always been allowed across someone else’s land, only to now find that they are refusing you access?
Perhaps you are no longer happy with your neighbours going across your land, or you dispute that they ever had this right of way?
Disputes regarding excessive use or failure to maintain and repair rights of way are common.
When you feel your rights are threatened, you should always seek legal advice before doing anything drastic or confrontational. If you take the time to find out your legal position, it can prevent further problems from arising.
Truth Legal is here to help you. Our friendly and knowledgeable solicitors have expertise in property litigation and have helped to resolve many different kinds of property dispute. Call us today to arrange a consultation and get clear advice and guidance on your legal position.
Rights of way are sometimes called ‘easements’. It is not easy to give a short definition of an easement as the term can cover many other kinds of rights over land, such as rights to light. However, it may help you to know the word, as, in many cases, it is used as just another name for a right of way.
The law around easements sets certain requirements which apply to rights of way. Some of these are very technical in nature. However, in its simplest form, an easement is a right to enter and use somebody else’s land for a particular purpose. For example, to pass across to gain access to your own land.
How do rights of way come about?
Rights of way can be created in a number of different ways. Not all of these will mean that the right is detailed on the Land Registry or in the title deeds of a property. They can occur through:
- A clear express agreement – this is usually agreed when land, or part of it, is being sold. It ensures that the precise terms are recorded in writing.
- Implied agreement – this will usually happen if part of land is sold. When land is sold, the land will retain the benefit of existing rights of way. For example, if the buyer needs to cross the land kept by the seller to enjoy their newly bought land.
- Necessity – if the only way to access a piece of land from a public highway is over someone else’s land, then an automatic right of way may arise.
- Long use – if someone repeatedly crosses someone else’s land then a right of way may arise. However, there are further conditions to this. The access:
- must have been sufficiently regular over a period of at least 20 years; and
- must not have been with the landowner’s permission; and
- must not have been done with secrecy or force.
What does a right of way allow?
It is important to note that not all rights of way allow for the same level of access. Some may allow many different means of access such as vehicles, bicycles, horses, pedestrians, etc., whereas others may restrict access to fewer methods or specify just one.
What happens if a right of way is being interfered with?
You may be able to take action against your neighbour for any “substantial interference” with a right of way. Equally, your neighbour may accuse you of “substantially interfering” with a right of way.
When considering this issue, a court will ask whether the right of way can be exercised as practically and conveniently as before the interference. Examples of when a court has found that there has been substantial interference include the construction of a wall and the erection of numerous gates.
If a court considers that a right of way has been substantially interfered with then it can grant an injunction to stop the interference and/or award damages to the party with the benefit of the right of way.
How can Truth Legal help?
Disputes over rights of way can be complicated. Our solicitors can provide you with the legal support you need to ensure these disputes are resolved as favourably for you as possible.
Truth Legal has been built on the principle of providing ethical and effective legal services to all of our clients. This means being open and honest, giving clear, helpful advice, and protecting your rights.
We are based in Harrogate with presences in York, Manchester, and London.
How much will our service cost?
Truth Legal offers affordable fixed fees or hourly rates – allowing you a flexible and cost-effective service. You may also have Legal Expenses Insurance on your home insurance policy allowing some or all of your legal costs to the paid by your home insurance.
We have also partnered with CrowdJustice, a leading crowdfunding platform specifically designed to help clients get access to funding for their case. Find 0ut more about Crowdfunding for legal cases.
If you would like expert advice on easements and rights of way, tailored to your unique situation, contact Truth Legal today.