Right way, wrong way and my way! – What are Right’s of Way?

Right way, wrong way and my way! – What are Right’s of Way?

If you own a Property (residential or commercial) someone else (or possibly more than one person) might have a right of way over it.

If you are selling your property and it has a right of way over it, you need to tell your Conveyancing Solicitor.

If you’re buying a property, and it has a right of way over it, we will be finding out all about it from the vendors, and tell you what is involved and what does it mean to you.

So what is a right of way?

Well put simply, it means that someone else has the right to access your property for a particular reason. So long as they comply with any obligations on them, you cannot stop them exercising their right of way, and if you tried to stop them, they could take you to court. That is why it’s important that we tell your purchaser about any rights of way, and you know about any rights of way affecting the property you want to buy.

Examples of a right of way are

  1. That someone has the right to cross over your garden to get to their land. This might happen where, for example, a developer has bought a house with a large garden, and has built a new house in part of that garden. The owners of the original house will have granted a right of way to the owners of the new house, so that the new house owners can drive over the original house owners drive way, to get to their property.
  2. If you are buying a property where there are common parts (such as a flat or an office in an estate) everyone in the building will have the right to cross over the pathways, stairways and corridors to get to and from their flat or office. In that situation, the rights of way will be set out in the lease so you know what parts you can access, and what parts you can’t.
  3. Someone may have the right to use part of your land, such as the right to park on your driveway or put their bins out next to yours. This sometimes happens with large houses that have been converted into flats.

Rights of way come into existence in a number of ways

The most common way is by formal agreement.  So, for example, when a property developer buys a plot of land to build some houses, as part of a private gated estate, he will put into the paperwork a right of way that gives all the people who buy the houses the right to drive and walk backwards and forwards over the road to get to and from their houses.  This will be set out in the plans, which we will find at the land registry, so when we first start investigating your rights and obligations, we will see this.  In fact, we will go looking for things like this, as we want to make sure that you and your guests have the right to get in and out of the property.

Some rights of way come into effect by informal agreement.  This is often a deal done between neighbours (often just on a nod, without even a discussion) but if it has been going on for long enough, it can become binding.  So, for example, it used to be quite common for rows of terraced and town houses to be built, with an access way at the rear so that people can reach their gardens from the road, without having to go through their house.  Sometimes people would elect to adopt the rear pathway into their garden (to make it bigger) and would then agree with their neighbours that if they needed to get their lawnmowers in and out, they could just go over each other’s gardens.  Whilst this is absolutely fine and you are perfectly entitled to do this (unless the lease plan says that the access way belongs to someone else), you may have created a legally binding right of way, which needs to be made known to anyone planning to buy the property.  Your purchaser may not want to allow someone to cross their lawn every Sunday morning, but if you’ve allowed a right of way to come into existence, they may not have a choice.

Sometimes a right of way can come into existence without any agreement being reached, particularly if someone is doing something you don’t know about.  Let’s say, for example, that you own a rental property, and unbeknown to you, your tenant has allowed your neighbour to use your garden.  The tenant didn’t want to have to be bothered to mow the lawn, so the neighbour said he’d do it, in return for being able to take down the dividing fence, and using both gardens as his own.  Your tenant doesn’t have the right to grant a right of way, but if the neighbour has being using your garden for long enough (probably in excess of 10 years but it will depend on the facts) and has been doing it openly (eg your tenant and everyone around can see him using the garden) then he could argue that he has acquired ownership of your garden or at the very least and ongoing right to use it.  It would be a difficult case for him to bring, but not impossible, so if you do have tenants, make sure that the property is inspected regularly and that someone is keeping an eye on what is actually going on. Obviously this is quite an extreme example, but it does illustrate how it could happen without you knowing about it. Even if you knew the neighbour was using your garden, you might assume that it’s an arrangement you can just bring to an end any time you like, but if it’s been going on for a long time this may not be the case.

If you do think you may have granted a right of way over your land, tell us before we start the sale process so we can help you get to the bottom of it.

If you are buying a property and you think someone else has a right of way over it, let us know as soon as you can and we will investigate further.  If there is a right of way that the vendor failed to disclose to you, we may be able to claim compensation for you.

If you think you have a right of way over someone else’s land, and you’d like our advice as to what you can do to protect that right, give us a call and we’ll happily talk you through your options.

Disclaimer – our articles are designed to give you guidance and information. There is no substitute for proper direct advice, particularly as everyone’s circumstances are different. If anything in this article may affect you, please contact us for advice that is specific to your circumstances.

What our clients say

Great value for money. Everything went smoothly and I was very pleased with the service provided
Rachel Whitfield
Rachel Whitfield
20:59 12 Oct 18
Excellent! Very responsive, and really helped to push the purchase. There were unexpected delays during the process, but Anthony really helped to reassure me that he was doing everything he could to progress the sale. Ultimately, it all worked out in the end, and I would highly recommend! I would also recommend for auction purposes.
Sean Stevens
Sean Stevens
09:14 21 May 18
Very happy customer. Understanding of our needs and recommended a really fantastic solicitor.
Jack Hearne
Jack Hearne
17:49 12 Oct 18
I have just completed the purchase of my flat with them. They were recommend by the estates agents Phillip Arnold and they were fantastic. My case was handled by Milena who was really helpful and always available on the phone. The online system is also really easy to use. If I buy or sell a property I will definitely be using them again.
Sharon Kelly
Sharon Kelly
18:27 20 Dec 17
I used this service following a recommendation. The online case tracker worked really well. I would recommend this service as it's vital in the coordination between Estate Agencies and between Solicitors. The service proved invaluable in helping progress the conveyancing work efficiently and effectively. Completed the transaction just before Christmas having instructed the Solicitors on the 4th.
Shelly Harrill
Shelly Harrill
16:30 19 Dec 17
Excellent Service. Final Price same as quoted.
A Google User
A Google User
14:26 19 Dec 18
Have used them twice. Both times completion happened in less than 4 weeks, even over Xmas! Totally amazing. They take the stress out of the whole process.
Daniel West
Daniel West
13:04 21 Dec 18
Excellent Service. Final Price same as quoted
Parsa Khamooshi
Parsa Khamooshi
15:54 21 Dec 18
Being a first time buyer they guided me smoothly through the whole process of moving into my first home. Very professional and economical.
Uday Seth
Uday Seth
12:31 24 Dec 18
Express Conveyancing have been excellent in the handling of my recent house sale and purchase. Would highly recommend
James Ellis
James Ellis
11:43 30 Apr 19
Express Conveyancing have been excellent in the handling of my recent house sale and purchase. Would highly recommend
Michelle Preston
Michelle Preston
12:20 30 Apr 19
ThanksThanks for handling my sale and purchase. No complaints from me. Rebecca was regularly on hand to help with my queries and deal with issues.
Claire Miles
Claire Miles
17:48 07 May 19
I bought my first home in South London with Express Conveyancing . Great professional service, I was regularly updated and looked after. Top marks, 100% recommendation from me!
Dale Griffiths
Dale Griffiths
15:58 02 May 19
Good service and happy with the conveyancer
Chris Jenkins
Chris Jenkins
22:01 17 May 19
Great service from start to finish. Was great being able to see progress online! Very quick and efficient! All staff were helpful. Highly recommend
Reece Moseley
Reece Moseley
06:20 30 May 19
I would highly recommend them. They deal with any queries promptly and efficiently. Would definitely use them again.
Sahar Dalini
Sahar Dalini
09:13 10 Jun 19
Fair prices good efficient service
Sue Batchelor
Sue Batchelor
18:46 01 Jun 19

Our News

  • Image
    August 19, 2019

    Doing your homework on the estate agents!

    Buying or selling a property can be a fairly lengthy process.  From the minute you make the decision to move, to the moment you hand over the ke [...read more]

  • Image
    August 19, 2019

    Eviction of Tenants

    If you are buying or already own a property with the intention of letting it out to tenants, then knowing what to do when you want your tenants t [...read more]

  • Image
    August 19, 2019

    Gazumping blog

    what is gazumping? Gazumping is when another person puts in a higher offer on a property you are in the process of buying and their offer gets ac [...read more]

  •