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Gaining Access to Neighbour's Land

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 15 Jun 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Access Neighbour’s Land Neighbouring

If you have a good relationship with your neighbours, it’s not usually a problem for them to grant you permission to go onto their land in order that you can carry out repairs to your own property. It might be a gutter that needs replacing, and you need to get onto their side of the fence to remove the old one and replace it with a new one. Perhaps it’s a tree that is situated in your garden but which has become dangerous and unstable and it needs chopping down, yet some of the branches now hang over your neighbour’s fence. It could even be something like a drainage issue.

Ask Your Neighbour for their Permission First

A polite approach to your neighbour to ask them if you can go onto their land to resolve a problem will usually be sufficient. Sometimes they might want to ask you for more specific detail about the nature of the problem, and why you need to do the work from their side. They may be perfectly amenable to you gaining access from their side, but it might have to fit in at a time which suits them.

However, there will always be ‘awkward’ people or those who prove to be the exception to the rule and, depending on your reasons for needing to go onto their land, they might refuse permission and they may have every right to do that. In certain circumstances, you might be able to force access by taking legal action.

What The Law Says

The Access To Neighbouring Land Act 1992 can, in some instances, force a neighbour into granting you access to their land. However, the reasons needs to be justified and applicable to the law, and you must apply to the county court for an access order for which you will be charged a fee.

Justification for Granting Access to a Neighbour’s Land

When applying for an access order, you must be able to prove to the court that the repairs or any work that needs to be carried out would be necessary to preserve either a part or all of your land or property, and that either the work could not be carried out, or would be substantially hampered by the failure to be given access to your neighbour’s land.

The Importance of the Term ‘Preservation’

It’s important to be clear that an access order will only be granted in relation to the preservation, renewal or repair of any existing structure and related components of it, such as drains, pipes, cables etc, which might have become damaged, or the Removal Of Trees and other growing vegetation that might be dead, diseased, damaged or which may have become uprooted and could be deemed dangerous if not removed.

Therefore, this does not mean that you will succeed in being granted an access order if you are building an extension to your property, even if you have planning permission. Yes, certain alterations, modifications and improvements might be permissible under an access order, but only if they are incidental to the other preservation work which is carried out and it can be justified that this is necessary.

Unless relations between you and your neighbour have become so bad that they have reached a point of ‘no return’, there is rarely need for you to ever have to apply to have an access order granted. However, it is important that you understand the legal implications and the limits of the Court’s powers in this regard. This is especially relevant for any planning developments that you may be considering, where it might be highly advisable to discuss the potential for access to your neighbour’s land with your neighbour directly, if you think that might be necessary, before going ahead with any work – even if you have been granted planning permission. Understand more about your rights to access to neighbour's land here

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I am at a loss as to what my next step should be: The side of my property backs onto a field which has recently changed hands - the new owner has now erected stables and feed stores for her horses (all retired).The issue and problem is that when my neighbours dogs are in the field and barking, my young labrador leapt over my wall to play with dogs.Clearly this was not something the owner of the field was happy with and obviously I did not want to create an issue.We arranged for my wall to be increased however when I wrote to the field owner advising her that the builder would require access onto the field with the sole purpose of laying the bricks on the field side, she has refused them access.My builders have tried really hard to work from my garden but it is proving really difficult for them. what are my legal rights?
Christina MacDonald - 15-Jun-18 @ 9:01 PM
Verity - Your Question:
I have lost bed at my property for over thirty years with no neighbours to back and right side of me and was told when buying the land to the back and side was land that could never be built on. Cut long story short planning permission was granted to the side of mine for 13 social houses. While these were being built I have put up with lots of problems, noise, horrendous dust and damage tomy boundary fence. The builders want to remove my boundary fence and put up their own but as my fence was well covered by shrubs mainly prickly planting to stop anyone from climbing over and also the shrubs were full of birds some nesting I refused this. The builders have since dug out so close to my fence I can see daylight under it and the land behind is lower they also hit and pushed my fence with the digger scoop which they used to just rip all my shrubs of the rear of my fence. Now I have a fence that’s falling over a huge amount of shrubs that are all dead and idle promises to put things right. I’ve now had to have the builder round to look at all this and he said they were in the right removing all the foliage and digging out right up to my fence as it’s their land and also as my fence posts weren’t that strong it’s not their fault the fence has fallen like it has. Who do I go to for help and what rights do I have to ask them to repair the damage. They even fastened with big screws and tied things to one of my corner posts all without permission but told me they didn’t need it as my fence formed the boundary. I’m exhausted with it it all

Our Response:
If the fence belongs to you, the builders have no right to touch it or attach anything to it. First try writing to the company to claim some kind of recompense for the damage. If that doesn't provide you with a solution, you may have to claim damages via the small claims court.
ProblemNeighbours - 15-Jun-18 @ 3:06 PM
I have lost bed at my property for over thirty years with no neighbours to back and right side of me and was told when buying the land to the back and side was land that could never be built on. Cut long story short planning permission was granted to the side of mine for 13 social houses. While these were being built I have put up with lots of problems, noise, horrendous dust and damage to my boundary fence. The builders want to remove my boundary fence and put up their own but as my fence was well covered by shrubs mainly prickly planting to stop anyone from climbing over and also the shrubs were full of birds some nesting I refused this. The builders have since dug out so close to my fence I can see daylight under it and the land behind is lower they also hit and pushed my fence with the digger scoop which they used to just rip all my shrubs of the rear of my fence. Now I have a fence that’s falling over a huge amount of shrubs that are all dead and idle promises to put things right. I’ve now had to have the builder round to look at all this and he said they were in the right removing all the foliage and digging out right up to my fence as it’s their land and also as my fence posts weren’t that strong it’s not their fault the fence has fallen like it has. Who do I go to for help and what rights do I have to ask them to repair the damage. They even fastened with big screws and tied things to one of my corner posts all without permission but told me they didn’t need it as my fence formed the boundary. I’m exhausted with it it all
Verity - 15-Jun-18 @ 6:47 AM
I am trying to find advice for a neighbour / privacy issue, I live in Scotland. My neighbour told me he was putting a ramp to his property for a wheelchair his wife now needs, he doesn't need planning permission. I assumed te ramp would be put where his existing steps are, never assume. The digging started last week to my horror right next to our wall that devides the two properties,this will mean thatwhen being used the people accessing the ramp will on reaching the top come right in front of my living room window.surely this cannot be acceptable under privacy laws, the advice I require is who do I go to?. Is there any legislation that would argue my case to privacy?.
Frannie - 12-Jun-18 @ 1:01 AM
Permitted development Class G - chimney, flues etc. Neighbour infill of car-port asked for permission to 'overhang' our property with a small flue contraption. Being good neighbours we said that would be OK but that at no point would we ever consider the structure being on our land. We were assured two things. That it would only overhang and he demonstrated some height (he's a tallish fellow) by bending down and raising his hand to about 8 inches to a foot. We were away and when we returned this massive supporting structure IS BUILT ON OUR LAND and is about 6ft wide about 7ft high and with a black metal chimney going up another 8ft on their side elevation. They have also taken out fence panels, which are propped up against our side elevation wall (we are detached they are not) the gravel boards have been destroyed and the concrete fence posts destroyed also. I think they have broken them. We did say they could have access to do the work, again, in the spirit of neighbourliness, but at no point did we say that they could effect their work and in so doing destroy our property and, possibly, effect the resale value. I'm going up to 80 years of age. I don't like liars and I certainly don't like people who think they can run rough shod over what had been agreed because we would, and should have said, No. Another part of our 6ft fence has been cut up and is now at an angle. This was supposed to be a temporary measure, but looks as though it will now be permanent as the construction for the flue - 4inches away from our guttering on our new conservatory, prevents our fence line from being put back to what it was before they started the infill and the structure for the flue. I'm devastated. I realise that it is a permitted development, but on land belonging to someone else, you have got to be joking, and I don't find it funny in the least. I'm losing sleep and have had to make an initial appointment with a solicitor. That they did this at a very opportune time when we were away smacks of knowing what they were about all the way through, and I have no doubt that they stood on our conservatory roof (a solid one) or effected access by climbing over our wrought iron padlocked gate to do the work. I can see no other way in which they could have completed the task.
distraught - 5-Jun-18 @ 5:25 AM
Mike - Your Question:
My title deeds give a right of overhang does this right carry with it an implied right to enter neighbours land for maintenance purposes?

Our Response:
No not necessarily. In general there may be a right of access for essential repairs under the above act anyway.
ProblemNeighbours - 14-May-18 @ 3:39 PM
My title deeds give a right of overhang does this rightcarry with it an implied right to enter neighbours land for maintenance purposes?
Mike - 12-May-18 @ 11:03 AM
Nick - Your Question:
Our neighbours are extending upward on their garage which sits along the side of our property side path. We were asked if they could have access for scaffolding but as we use our back door a lot we said no. We came home and found the builder had gained access and erected a scaffold (which is too low and dangerous) running down our path. In doing so they have stood on our wheelie bin and ruined the lid and removed the outer piping of the boiler and now our boiler is not working. I have children and a medical issue,so not having hot water is an issue. We said we would call the police and the builder/cowboy laughed. I call ed the police and they have said it is a civil issue. \the builder has said the scaffolding cannot come down until Wednesday next week (another 5 days) and I am not sure the boiler can be fixed until it is removed. I can not contact the council until Tuesday due to Bank holiday I am fuming!!!!

Our Response:
This is a civil issue, so you will have to take action via the legal system. A solicitor will be able to help you...your local Citizens' Advice will be able to help you find legal assistance.
ProblemNeighbours - 8-May-18 @ 10:18 AM
Our neighbours are extending upward on their garage which sits along the side of our property side path. We were asked if they could have access for scaffolding but as we use our back door a lot we said no. We came home and found the builder had gained access and erected a scaffold (which is too low and dangerous) running down our path. In doing so they have stood on our wheelie bin and ruined the lid and removed the outer piping of the boiler and now our boiler is not working. I have children and a medical issue,so not having hot water is an issue. We said we would call the police and the builder/cowboy laughed. I call ed the police and they have said it is a civil issue. \the builder has said the scaffolding cannot come down until Wednesday next week (another 5 days) and I am not sure the boiler can be fixed until it is removed. I can not contact the council until Tuesday due to Bank holiday I am fuming!!!!
Nick - 5-May-18 @ 7:35 AM
Fairy - Your Question:
We live in a house which is surrounded by our neighbours land, and we have a legal right (in the deeds) to use his driveway to access our house.Unfortunately we have almost no land, so any workman attending our property need to park their cans on the neighbours land, next to our gates. This in no way blocks the neighbours access to his house or garden.Our neighbour is becoming increasingly difficult and I fear he may say they can not park their vans any more.They are parked in concrete so not causing any damage, and are here for 6 days in total whilst we have a new bathroom.Is this parking included as ‘access’ and can the neighbour withdraw this permission, either verbally or otherwise?

Our Response:
Access usual means "access" when referred to in title deeds, i.e to get from one place to another. Perhaps you can give the neighbours a start and end date for any work you need carrying out. If you have workmen attending regularly, we can see how this could become tiresome for the neighbour.
ProblemNeighbours - 16-Apr-18 @ 1:00 PM
We live in a house which is surrounded by our neighbours land, and we have a legal right (in the deeds) to use his driveway to access our house. Unfortunately we have almost no land, so any workman attending our property need to park their cans on the neighbours land, next to our gates. This in no way blocks the neighbours access to his house or garden. Our neighbour is becoming increasingly difficult and I fear he may say they can not park their vans any more. They are parked in concrete so not causing any damage, and are here for 6 days in total whilst we have a new bathroom. Is this parking included as ‘access’ and can the neighbour withdraw this permission, either verbally or otherwise?
Fairy - 13-Apr-18 @ 12:59 PM
The previous owners of my house tried to put a window in the back wall that over looks the parking of the business behind the house.The owner of the business put up a wooden casement over the window to prevent use.I have asked him if I can install a fix closed opaque window (with a trickle vent) in order to allow much needed light and to help with the airflow in this room (1820;s building that needs venting due to no damp course).He has refused even though the window is only onto the parking area - nowhere near the offices and is already overlooked by my neighbours by a clear glass window.I understand I don't need planning for a window smaller than 1 metre square but will go to council any way.If they grant or say I can go ahead can he be made to remove the casement?
Jazz - 12-Apr-18 @ 9:37 PM
Katie - Your Question:
I live in a detached house and share the boundary line with my neighbours. There is a fence which I put in on the boundary line. My neighbours got plans approved to build a 2 storey extension which comes right up to the boundary line. I had objected to the plans as the extension is massive and will block the sunlight from my house. In order to build it they need to come onto my property. In fact they would need to dig up my garden to put the footings in and these would come onto my property. I refused and said there would be no access from my side. I am pretty sure of the answer after reading the information on this site but I would like to ask if they can enforce access to my property to build the extension? Thankyou

Our Response:
Your neighbours would need to make an application to the court for access to your property under the Access to Neighbouring Land legislation. The act is mainly designed for essential maintenance/repairs access so we don't imagine your neighbours will succeed but this would be for the courts to decide.
ProblemNeighbours - 9-Apr-18 @ 12:18 PM
I live in a detached house and share the boundary line with my neighbours. There is a fence which I put in on the boundary line. My neighbours got plans approved to build a 2 storey extension which comes right up to the boundary line. I had objected to the plans as the extension is massive and will block the sunlight from my house. In order to build it they need to come onto my property. In fact they would need to dig up my garden to put the footings in and these would come onto my property. I refused and said there would be no access from my side. I am pretty sure of the answer after reading the information on this site but I would like to ask if they can enforce access to my property to build the extension?Thankyou
Katie - 7-Apr-18 @ 10:45 AM
Do we have to inform our antisocial neighbor we intend to remove our fence panels ( which she uses to keep her dogs on her side) to paint them. If we just remove them her dogs will run all over our garden again. It is our fence, on our property. Many thanks for any advice. Redyakyak
Redyakyak - 15-Mar-18 @ 6:07 PM
Con_cerned - Your Question:
Our neighour carried out roof replacement - a year after we finished our own building works. Only problem the tiles do not match and they had to do a lot of work to complete their side - in doing so removed a strip of our tiles and have finished their work and refused to reinstate our tiles. They say we held up repairs. We now have to pay for scaffolding and a worker to carry out repairs approx £1000. The scaffolding may cross their boundary. They have been very unneighbourly where I feel we tried everything to keep them happy during our building works. The cost of the scaffolding is prohibitive - where do we stand in terms of recovering the cost for the work and erecting scaffolding?

Our Response:
If the neighbour refuses to contribute, you will have to use the small claims court.
ProblemNeighbours - 14-Mar-18 @ 2:02 PM
Our neighour carried out roof replacement - a year after we finished our own building works. Only problem the tiles do not match and they had to do a lot of work to complete their side - in doing so removed a strip of our tiles and have finished their work and refused to reinstate our tiles. They say we held up repairs. We now have to pay for scaffolding and a worker to carry out repairs approx £1000. The scaffolding may cross their boundary. They have been very unneighbourly where I feel we tried everything to keep them happy during our building works.The cost of the scaffolding is prohibitive - where do we stand in terms of recovering the cost for the work and erecting scaffolding?
Con_cerned - 12-Mar-18 @ 1:51 PM
Ferguson - Your Question:
Hi, my neighbour is building a ground floor extension. We signed a party wall agreement, but are now very unhappy, as the builders have broken some of my fence, trespassed, etc. I don't want to give the builders access to my garden, as I'm concerned about the damage they might do. The neighbour will only correspond via his solicitor and has accused me of harassment, as I emailed him four times to ask him, nicely to speak to his builders. However, I can't afford a solicitor and I'm scared to write to them myself in case I say the wrong thing. Do I have to allow the builders ion to my land, even though I have grave concerns.Thank you

Our Response:
You only have to allow access for essential maintenance. It might be worth popping to Citizens' Advice (if you can't afford a solicitor) and asking them to help you draw up an agreement with the builders and neighbours saying that access will be allowed but within specified time limits and that any damage will be repaired/compensated for etc (a legal professional will know how to word this).
ProblemNeighbours - 28-Feb-18 @ 10:31 AM
Hi, my neighbour is building a ground floor extension. We signed a party wall agreement, but are now very unhappy, as the builders have broken some of my fence, trespassed, etc. I don't want to give the builders access to my garden, as I'm concerned about the damage they might do. The neighbour will only correspond via his solicitor and has accused me of harassment, as I emailed him four times to ask him, nicely to speak to his builders. However, I can't afford a solicitor and I'm scared to write to them myself in case I say the wrong thing. Do I have to allow the builders ion to my land, even though I have grave concerns. Thank you
Ferguson - 26-Feb-18 @ 2:39 PM
TLP - Your Question:
I have 17 fence panels on my boundary that now need replacing. 8 of the uprights are rotten and 6 of the panels are beyond repair. I have acquired a contractor and plan to use concrete uprights and gravel boards. My neighbour has been complaing about the fence for the last 4 years but she is now refusing access onto her property so that the contractor can work. He might need to step on her side to complete the work. Is my request a reasonable one?

Our Response:
If it's for essential repairs, we think it sounds reasonable enough.If the neighbour is refusing access though, you may have seek legal advice.
ProblemNeighbours - 7-Feb-18 @ 2:37 PM
I have 17 fence panels on my boundarythat now need replacing. 8 of the uprights are rotten and 6 of the panels are beyond repair. I have acquired a contractor and plan to use concrete uprights and gravel boards. My neighbour has been complaing about the fence for the last 4 years but she is now refusing access onto her property so that the contractor can work. He might need to step on her side to complete the work. Is my request a reasonable one?
TLP - 6-Feb-18 @ 7:16 PM
Semi detached - neighbour has changed garage to bedroom so now has no access to his garden.Wants to build a new conservatory and to do so wants to go through my garden - take down fence by my house wall in order to demolish old and install new conservatory.what are my rights? Am i obliged to allow this - he has not asked me but the builder has.builder lives on the other side (our drives are adjacent to each other) and will have a large skip on his drive so all the removed will go across my patio to the skip. some years ago i allowed himm to havea shed to go in over my garden and my garden bed was mullered and replaced with cheap annual plants in place of my shrubs.
Chrissie - 22-Jan-18 @ 1:53 PM
auntieflo - Your Question:
Our neighbours partially blocked our driveway to our house (we have a dropped kerb which we had permission for and paid for ourselves). We kindly asked them to move their car a few inches so we could get on the drive. It has caused world war 3 to break out. We have never asked them for any favours (yet, these neighbours constantly borrowed from us - when I say borrowed - they never gave our belongings back unless we badgered them over and over again). Now they are reporting us to the council for every slight little thing. Our washing machine broke and we arranged to have it collected (but, it was two weeks before it could be collected and we had nowhere to put it other than our patio). The neighbours reported us (anonymously but, we know it is them) to environmental health and said there were rats in it (completely untrue). Then they have reported us for our dogs barking. We were visited by a council officer who witnessed our two dogs wagging their tails and not even murmuring. She put on file it was a malicious report. We keep ourselves to ourselves. We have never invited neighbours in our home as we value our privacy. We don't know what they are going to report us for next. Is there anything we can do to stop this constant harassment?

Our Response:
This a civil matter and would have to be dealt with via the courts.
ProblemNeighbours - 21-Nov-17 @ 12:43 PM
Our neighbours partially blocked our driveway to our house (we have a dropped kerb which we had permission for and paid for ourselves). We kindly asked them to move their car a few inches so we could get on the drive. It has caused world war 3 to break out. We have never asked them for any favours (yet, these neighbours constantly borrowed from us - when I say borrowed - they never gave our belongings back unless we badgered them over and over again). Now they are reporting us to the council for every slight little thing. Our washing machine broke and we arranged to have it collected (but, it was two weeks before it could be collected and we had nowhere to put it other than our patio). The neighbours reported us (anonymously but, we know it is them) to environmental health and said there were rats in it (completely untrue). Then they have reported us for our dogs barking. We were visited by a council officer who witnessed our two dogs wagging their tails and not even murmuring. She put on file it was a malicious report. We keep ourselves to ourselves. We have never invited neighbours in our home as we value our privacy. We don't know what they are going to report us for next. Is there anything we can do to stop this constant harassment?
auntieflo - 20-Nov-17 @ 6:35 PM
AnnieO - Your Question:
My neighbour has an extension, built many years ago, which extends along the boundary of our gardens and our slate patio runs up to this wall. The level of the floor in the neighbours kitchen is above the level of our patio (and raised up from the level of his patio) He now has some damp in this kitchen wall and says it is because the level of our patio is higher however our patio is at the original garden level. He wants to dig down on our side of the wall to install damp proofing. He also says he wants us to create a gulley between our patio and this boundary wall. Is any of this justified? Shouldn't he solve the damp problem from his side by either installing damp proofing or by altering the height of the floor in the extension?

Our Response:
What does a surveyor say? Can the damp problem be solved from inside? You need to find out from a technical professional if you have a problem with allowing access. If the neigbour decides to pursue this, the courts may order access if the work is essential and cannot be undertaken any other way.
ProblemNeighbours - 3-Nov-17 @ 3:06 PM
My neighbour has an extension, built many years ago, which extends along the boundary of our gardens and our slate patio runs up to this wall.The level of the floor in the neighbours kitchen is above the level of our patio (and raised up from the level of his patio) He now has some damp in this kitchen wall and says it is because the level of our patio is higher however our patio is at the original garden level.He wants to dig down on our side of the wall to install damp proofing.He also says he wants us to create a gulley between our patio and this boundary wall.Is any of this justified?Shouldn't he solve the damp problem from his side by either installing damp proofing or by altering the height of the floor in the extension?
AnnieO - 3-Nov-17 @ 8:41 AM
Tasbo - Your Question:
We live in a detached house and would like to put security lights around the side (back gate access leading to rear garden/door) but in order to do this we need to put a ladder in our neighbours rear access pathway. Our neighbour has refused access (we have had issues with these neighbours in the past so we kind of expected a No) We have tried doing it without using a ladder & tried with a ladder in our own pathway but it proves impossible to reach where we need to be. Is there anything we can do in order to gain the access we require?

Our Response:
The Access to neighbouring property act is for essential maintenance and if you were to take it to court, that is what a judge would consider, so you need to decide whether you think it is essential. Can you ask someone else to "arbitrate" so you can come to some agreement with the neighbours? Bear in mind that the issue will arise whenever a bulb needs replacing etc. Is there anywhere else you can position the lights? This might be a better option.
ProblemNeighbours - 3-Oct-17 @ 12:15 PM
We live in a detached house and would like to put security lights around the side (back gate access leading to rear garden/door) but in order to do this we need to put a ladder in our neighbours rear access pathway. Our neighbour has refused access (we have had issues with these neighbours in the past so we kind of expected a No) We have tried doing it without using a ladder & tried with a ladder in our own pathway but it proves impossible to reach where we need to be. Is there anything we can do in order to gain the access we require?
Tasbo - 1-Oct-17 @ 11:27 AM
HelenM - Your Question:
My neighbour asked for access to our garden as he is building an extension. He has, however, put up scaffolding without our consent and has destroyed plants and left our garden like a rubbish tip. What can we do?

Our Response:
Write to the neighbour asking them to get the builder to reinstate the garden to its original state (even if that means buying new plants). If he refuses, tell them that you will refer it to the small claims court.
ProblemNeighbours - 18-Sep-17 @ 12:40 PM
My neighbour asked for access to our garden as he is building an extension. He has, however, put up scaffolding without our consent and has destroyed plants and left our garden like a rubbish tip. What can we do?
HelenM - 15-Sep-17 @ 10:29 PM
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