Do I need to give my neighbour access to my land

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Image of the words no trepassing

Do you need to give your neighbour access to your land

This depends on their reason for needing access.  Regardless of whether you have a good or difficult relationship with your neighbour, you still have the right to say no and you should not feel uncomfortable about accepting or rejecting access requests to keep good neighbourly relations.  This guide will help you determine the right of access to your property by your neighbour.

When you may have to say yes

Your neighbour could be granted an access order by a court if they give any of the following reasons:

  • To maintain, renovate or repair an existing property or structure (or parts of it) that can only be accessed via your land
  • To clear a sewer, pipe, drain or repair cables
  • To fill in or remove a ditch
  • To remove a tree, plant or hedge (or parts of it) which have become diseased, died become unstable which may pose a danger

Simply put, if your neighbour wants to build a new structure, you don’t have to say yes. The work must relate to the preservation of an existing structure, not a new structure currently being built.  Any structure that has been built with previous access to your land means that they could gain access.  Most importantly, your neighbour would need to confirm to you in writing exactly what they require access for, exactly how long it will take and if any damage occurs to your property that they must put it right by a certain deadline and pay for any damage.  If the request is in relation to any of the reasons listed above (with the exception of building a new structure), they may be able to apply through the courts to get access and will have to prove their right to access.

If you have a difficult relationship with your neighbour, click here.

If you are happy for your neighbour to access your property

Ask your neighbour to confirm to you in writing exactly what they require access for,  if its a new structure what they are building, plans of the new structure, what is will have made of and how they will be able to maintain it from their own land, exactly how long it will take and if any damage occurs to your property that they must put right by a certain deadline and pay for any damages.  Once you give access to your land for your neighbour to build a new structure, you could lose the right to refuse any future access for the neighbour to repair, maintain and/or renovate it.  To “future proof” your property, you have the option of saying no to an access request for a new build or structure.  You will save yourself a lot of time, hassle and costs in the long run, particularly if your neighbour becomes difficult before, during or after any build.  This will also help when you come to sell your property.  If a savvy buyer picks up that a structure on your neighbours land will require maintenance from your property, it could put them off buying.

If you are still happy for your neighbour to access your land/property, you should also first check this postcode checker to find out the current alert level and any restrictions that may apply in your area in relation to any lockdowns.  You should also check with your local authority to determine what local rules may be in force and consider any implications for allowing your neighbour into or onto your property.  As long as you/they follow the current Government guidance there should not be any issues with this.  Access can be achieved by all parties observing hygiene measures and social distancing guidelines.

When you can say no

If the alert level in your area has restrictions in relation to any lockdowns.  Check with your local authority to determine what local rules are in force.

If a neighbour requests access to your land to build a new structure or building, they would not be granted an access order by a court.

Under the Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992 (Access Order, Section (4) the current law states:

Where the court is satisfied on an application under this section that it is reasonably necessary to carry out any basic preservation works to the dominant land, those works shall be taken for the purposes of this Act to be reasonably necessary for the preservation of the land; and in this subsection “basic preservation works” means any of the following, that is to say—

(a) the maintenance, repair or renewal of any part of a building or other structure comprised in, or situated on, the dominant land;…(b)…

This means that the work must relate to the preservation of an existing structure, not a new structure currently being built.

Once you give access to your land for your neighbour to build a new structure, you could lose the right to refuse any future access for the neighbour to repair, maintain and/or renovate it.

To “future proof” your property, just say no to an access request for a new build or structure.  You will save yourself a lot of time, hassle and costs in the long run, particularly if your neighbour becomes difficult before, during or after any build.  This will also help when you come to sell your property.  If a savvy buyer picks up that a structure on your neighbours land will require maintenance from your property, it could put them off buying.

Once you say no, the neighbour would then need to build the structure completely independent of your land and boundary so that they are able to maintain, renovate or repair it in the future from their own land.

Now think very carefully about your decision

When you receive an access request from a neighbour, ask them to email the request to you and say you will look into it.

If you already have a building in that part of your garden, you should check whether it triggers a party wall agreement.

Generate an email asking the neighbour exactly what they are building, ask for a drawing or plan of the structure, the measurements, how it will impact your garden (will they be applying for a Line of Junction agreement (i.e. part of your fence or the neighbour’s fence will be removed to make way for the new structure’s sidewall to replace the fence)).  How far away will the foundations and sidewall of the structure be from the boundary, fence and again whether it will form a line of junction?

You need to ask what the structure will be made of (i.e. brick/timber etc)?  How it will be constructed, how long will it take to build?  What type of access do they need?  Will they require access to your land to bring materials across your garden and what that would entail.

How much future maintenance will the structure require?  If the fence will be kept in place, will you or the neighbour be able to maintain the fence once the structure is built or will this flag future access requests from either side?  This is a key factor when looking at access requests as the neighbour may need access to maintain their new structure and their existing fence from your garden which may need regular access requests.

Now think very carefully about your future plans for that part of your garden.  Will the neighbour’s structure place that area of your garden in the shade?  At some point, would you like to build there on your own land, could their structure scupper your future plans?  Check whether your planned structure will trigger a party wall agreement with your neighbour if you agree to their plans.

What is your current relationship like with your neighbour (irrespective of how great it is right now, building works can really test relationships).

Once you have made your decision, respond by email accordingly but you don’t have to give much detail about the reasons for your decision.  By doing this, you have a written record of your decision.

Planning permission to build and Access Requests

Even if your neighbour has planning permission to build a structure, if any part of it has to be carried out on from your land, they still need your permission to access your garden to build it even after they have submitted a planning application.

If you receive a planning application from the Local Authority that may impact your land (a new conservatory or extension), you should comment on the plans if you do not want the neighbour to build any part of it from your land and/or let the neighbour know in writing in advance of any building works commencing.

Exceptions To Granting Access

In some cases, courts may also refuse to grant an access order if they decide that it would cause severe hardship to you and would reduce your capacity for enjoying your own land.

Harassment From Neighbour

If you are being subjected to harassment from your neighbour whether verbally or in writing about the access situation, click here for more information on how to protect yourself, your property and your rights.

If the Neighbour trespasses on your land

If you have rejected the neighbour’s access request in writing and the neighbour trespasses on your land without your consent to build a new structure or make any repairs, take a photo of the neighbour on your land from a safe distance and call the Police straight away.  To get evidence of your neighbour trespassing on your land to give to the Police, you should install a Nest Outdoor Camera or a Ring Outdoor Camera from the back of your property that covers your garden.  Either camera can be either placed on a wall or placed inside your own property facing your garden.  You can also get in touch with your Local Authority as this can be reported as anti-social behaviour.  In a google search, type in the name of your local borough and the words “anti-social behaviour”.

If the neighbour is continuing to build, gather evidence of your neighbour trespassing on your land to give to the Police, you should install a camera from the back of your property that covers your garden.  The camera can be either placed on a wall or placed inside your own property facing your garden.  If you see the neighbour’s fence being dropped at any point, this may signal that your neighbour may be attempting to build the structure from your land.  Contact the Police.

If the neighbour has built a structure from your land without your knowledge

If the neighbour manages to build the structure from your land, without your consent or knowledge (you may have gone away on holiday etc.), you can use the photograph of your land before you went away or any video footage you have of the neighbour on your land previously together with any correspondence received and sent to the neighbour including the access rejection letter to get in touch with the Police and the relevant authorities.  If you decide to take legal action, the court will then see that you refused access and the neighbour clearly trespassed on your property to build the structure.

How to capture your neighbour on your land

Invest in some cameras for the front and back of your property.  This is a sure-fire way of ensuring that your neighbour does not try to access your land without your permission.

Nest Doorbell

Image of a Nest Doorbell

Buy here

Google Hello Nest Video Doorbell lets you know who’s at the door, so you won’t miss a visitor or parcel delivery. It can send an alert to your smart device and can tell the difference between a person and something else. It gives you the full view with crystal clarity so you can see the person from head to toe, right down to the doorstep so you can see parcels left for you too, and you can speak to your visitor via the Nest app (iOS & Android). With an optional Nest Aware subscription, it can tell the difference between people you know and a stranger, and it live-streams 24/7 so you can always check what’s happening at your door.  The beauty of this device is that for a small monthly subscription fee, it records and stores all activity so you can look back and record snippets of footage on a handheld device to use as evidence of being burgled, attempted burglary or a harassing neighbour!

Ring Doorbell

Buy here

Works with selected Alexa devices to launch real-time video with your voice.  Lets you see, hear and speak to visitors from your phone, tablet and PC.  You’ll get a notification when movement is detected or when visitors press the Doorbell.  Works on any home, with or without existing doorbell wires.  Monitors your home in HD video with infrared night vision.  Lets you check-in on your property at any time with Live View, real-time video.  Includes Theft Protection: If your doorbell gets stolen, they will replace it for free. The beauty of this device is that for a small monthly subscription fee, it records and stores all activity so you can look back and record snippets of footage on a handheld device to use as evidence of being burgled, attempted burglary or a harassing neighbour!

Nest Outdoor Camera

Image of a Nest Outdoor Camera

Buy here

With top-notch visual clarity, processing power and connectivity, Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is a premium way to make sure that your home’s surrounding areas are safe.  It’s weather-proof, temper-proof, and is able to detect a person up to 15 metres away, so it can help you find out about a break-in before it happens.  It enables you to check in on your phone, even when you are out, and is clever enough to distinguish between a person and a thing. Supersight vision monitors and records the action with superb clarity, and it can zoom in and follow the action for you.  A powerful speaker allows you to communicate through it using the Nest app, and, with a Nest Aware subscription (sold separately), it can send you familiar face alerts.  The beauty of this device is that for a small monthly subscription fee, it records and stores all activity so you can look back and record snippets of footage on a handheld device to use as evidence of being burgled, attempted burglary or a harassing neighbour!

Ring Outdoor Camera

Ring Stick Up Cam Battery | HD security camera with Two-Way Talk, Works with Alexa | With 30-day free trial of Ring Protect Plan | Black

Buy here

See, hear and speak to people and pets from your phone, tablet or select Echo device with Stick Up Cam Battery, a battery-powered camera that can be mounted anywhere, indoors or outdoors.  With Live View, you can check on your home any time through the Ring app.  Get notifications whenever motion is detected by adjusting your Motion Detection settings.  Place it anywhere: indoors or outdoors, on flat surfaces or mount it to a wall.  Easily set up your Stick Up Cam in just a few minutes.  Powered by a quick-release removable battery pack.  The beauty of this device is that for a small monthly subscription fee, it records and stores all activity so you can look back and record snippets of footage on a handheld device to use as evidence of being burgled, attempted burglary or a harassing neighbour!

*This guide is generated from real-life experience.  This article contains links to other websites, the content(s) of which we cannot be held responsible for.  Where possible, we have added affiliate links to specific products or services.   You can find these products and services without using the links contained in the article.  In order to sustain the website so that we can write these articles, we may use affiliate links.  If no affiliate link is available, we will directly search the item and link it back to the product or service.

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