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Sometimes you have no choice but to take legal action to access a neighbour’s land in order to maintain your own property. Louise Thornsby discusses some of the issues – and how they can be resolved.

It’s in no one’s interest to fall out with a neighbour so it’s always advisable to sort out property and land-related matters in an amicable manner if at all possible.

Sadly, this isn’t always the case and if your neighbour says you can’t go onto to their land in order to undertake work on your own property, you can take legal action to ensure your right of access.

Your legal rights explained

The law says you are entitled to access to neighbouring land to carry out work that is reasonable and necessary to preserve your property.

If you enter your neighbour’s land without consent, this could be trespassing so the first step is to approach them and ask for this permission.

If they say no, you can apply to the court for an access order against the neighbour. To do this successfully, you must convince the court that the work is necessary, and cannot practicably be carried out without going on your neighbour’s land.

It is important to understand that the court will refuse an access order if the work you want to carry out would unreasonably interfere with your neighbour’s enjoyment of his or her land, or that your neighbour would suffer undue hardship if the order was made.

The type of work covered by an access order

The law defines preservation work as:

  • Maintaining, repairing or renewing any part of a building or structure
  • Clearing, repairing or renewing drains, sewers, pipes or cables
  • Treating, cutting back, felling, removing or replacing hedges, trees, shrubs and other vegetation that is at risk of becoming damaged, diseased, dangerous, insecurely rooted, or dead
  • Filling in or clearing ditches.

What an access order allows you to do

If you gain an access order it will set out the type of work to be carried out, specify the area of land you can access, and set a date on which this can take place.

The order can also impose terms and conditions on you or your neighbour that the court considers  necessary to avoid damage, injury, inconvenience or loss of privacy.

For example, an order might stipulate how the work must be carried out; the days or hours of the day when it can be done; the individuals who can do it; and any safety precautions the court feels are necessary.

In addition, you may be required to pay compensation for any losses or significant inconvenience caused by the work, or to take out insurance covering these risks.

For further advice on accessing neighbouring land, call Louise Thornsby on 0161 761 8061, or email her at