Access laws for adjoining properties

Wilson Browne

1st October 2018

Legal Briefing

Wilson Browne

IF you have a building or renovation project planned it maybe the case that you will need to carry out works to your property that simply cannot be done without accessing your neighbours' property, for instance to install scaffolding or to re-point a wall.

If your works are such that you need to serve Party Wall Act notices then under the Act you may be able to have access ordered to your neighbours' land even without their consent. If the works are not works falling under the Party Wall Act then you will need a specific right of access, either by permission, so agreeing a licence or if the neighbours refuse by applying to a Court.

The Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992 allows access to be ordered to adjoining or adjacent land for the purpose of carrying out basic preservation works to your own property.

The Act defines basic preservation works as:

* Maintenance, repair or renewal of a building;

* Clearance, repair or renewal of a drain, sewer, pipe or cable;

* The treatment/cutting back/felling/removal or replacement of any hedge, tree, shrub or other growing thing which is, or is in danger of becoming, damaged, diseased, dangerous, insecurely rooted or dead;

* The filling in/clearance of a ditch.

But, crucially, the Act will normally not allow access for building an extension. That is not maintenance repair or renewal. There are, however, potentially technical arguments to allow such works to be ordered.

If your neighbours will not agree permission to carry out the works required, an application for an access order must be made to the court. We would strongly recommend you obtain expert legal advice before making the application or writing to your neighbours.

The court will need to consider if the works intended fall within the defined works allowed by the Act. The works must be reasonably necessary for the preservation of the relevant land; and it must be decided they cannot be carried out, or would be very difficult to carry out, without entry onto the adjoining land.

For further information, contact Wilson Browne's Specialist Litigation Team on 0800 088 6004.

Wilson Browne