Neighbour Obstructing Your Right Of Way?
If your neighbour is obstructing your right of way, and if you want to put an end to it, you have a few options.
Which one to choose will depend upon several factors.
I have acted for people who’ve used all of them.
I’ve set out your options below.
First Things First
A right of way is an “easement”.
Sorry for the technical jargon, but that’s what it is.
If your neighbour is blocking a right of way that you benefit from you may very well have a case against them for interfering with an easement.
If the interference is substantial you can have them stop.
Option 1 – Talk To Them
You might already have tried that, in which case go to option 2.
If you haven’t, a carefully worded exchange might be enough to resolve things.
It might simply be the case that they had no idea that a right of way existed, or that they were obstructing it.
I appreciate how some people prefer to avoid conflict, and if that’s you fair enough, but it really is worth talking to your neighbour to try to resolve things before taking any further action.
On the other hand I have acted for plenty of people whose neighbours were particularly volatile and/or simply refused to talk or listen.
Others will listen, humour you, but revert to their old ways.
If any of this sounds familiar then you need to do something.
Option 2 – Write To Them
If your neighbour is obstructing a right of way and won’t stop, despite your attempts to be civil, I recommend that a formal “letter before action” is sent.
This is a relatively formal looking letter that should leave your neighbour in no doubt that you require the situation to be remedied.
It doesn’t need to be aggressive, and can in fact be quite conciliatory, emphasising your desire to resolve things amicably.
If it’s written by a solicitor the added value of it coming from someone whom you’ve engaged to advise you on this may be sufficient to make them take your complaints more seriously.
The letter should specify a reasonable period of time for the interference to stop or for a substantive response to be provided.
Sending a letter such as this is also a necessary step before taking any formal action. If you don’t send one you could be penalised at a later date.
If it’s drafted correctly the problem will hopefully cease.
Option 3 – Mediate
Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR, is encouraged to try to resolve disputes at an early stage to avoid the need to refer them to court.
If your neighbour disputes your claim, or if there is a potential deal of some sort to be done, then attending a mediation could be the answer.
Mediation is an informal and flexible process that is held on a “closed” basis so that the parties can say anything they like without fear of their comments being referred to in the future.
It has around an 80% success rate, it’s quick and easy to set up, and it can avoid a lot of unnecessary cost and confrontation.
Anything can be agreed in a mediation. Your neighbour might agree to stop blocking your right of way. You might agree an alternative route for it. Or your neighbour might offer you some cash to let things continue.
Option 4 – Apply To Court
If you’re still getting nowhere you can apply to court for an order to prevent your neighbour from interfering with your right of way.
You will be asking the court for an injunction, which it won’t grant lightly, but these can be very effective, especially as breaching one of these orders can result in a person being sent to prison.
You can also ask the court to order your neighbour to pay your legal costs.
Option 5 – Self Help – NOT RECOMMENDED
In some cases there might be a limited right to remove an obstruction that is blocking a right of way, but that’s generally not recommended, especially if there is a chance of damage being caused, or an unjustified trespass taking place.
In short you could find that you are the one being sued if you try to remove the obstruction.
A Quick Example
I once acted for a client whose neighbour tried to annex part of my client’s land onto theirs while my client was away.
At the same time they erected a large metal fence on a part of their own land over which my client, a restaurant owner, had a right of way to use as a fire escape.
We tried to speak to them and they refused. We wrote to them and they didn’t respond. We offered to mediate but they ignored us.
So we applied to court.
And can you guess what happened?
The court ordered them to take the fence down immediately. And to pay my client’s costs.
I’ve had similar situations with people parking over a right of way, digging them up, or building over them.
Whatever the obstruction is, in most cases you can resolve the situation relatively quickly.
Applying to court is rare.
All that’s usually needed is a letter or two.
And I hope that’s the case for you.
Neighbour Blocking Your Right Of Way?
If your neighbour is blocking your right of way and you’d like a hand to stop them doing that then get in touch, I’d be happy to help.
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