Disputes between neighbours can cause a lot of unpleasantness. If you need to deal with your neighbours over matters related to land or property it is always advisable to try to get things done in a friendly way, whilst at the same time making sure you know your legal rights and responsibilities.
However, if your neighbours flatly refuse to grant you permission to gain access to their land in order to carry out vital maintenance work to your own property, there are steps you can take to enforce your right of access.
The Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992 enables access to adjoining or adjacent land for the purpose of carrying out 'basic preservation works' to one's own property. Basic preservation works includes:
- maintenance, repair or renewal of a building;
- clearance, repair or renewal of a drain, sewer, pipe or cable;
- filling in or clearing a ditch;
- felling, removal or replacement of a tree, hedge or other plant that is dead, diseased, insecurely rooted or which is likely to be dangerous.
- If you need to be granted right of access, proceedings must be commenced in the County Court. The court will grant an access order if it is satisfied that the preservation works are:
- reasonably necessary for the preservation of the relevant land; and
- that they cannot be carried out, or would be very difficult to carry out, without entry onto the adjoining land.
The court may still refuse access if it considers this would cause hardship to the occupier or significantly interfere with their enjoyment of the land in question.
The access order will specify what work is to be carried out, when and where and may also provide for any loss or damage to the owner or occupier of the land.