Understand Access To A Neighbour’s Land For Works To Your Property

Oct 19, 2020

Many landowners wonder if there is any legal right to go onto a neighbour’s property for doing repair and maintenance works to their properties, where access to the neighbouring land is required for such works, done either by themselves or their appointed workers.

Ideally, you would have a decent relationship with your neighbours and all your need to do is let them know about the work you are intending to do and ask for their permissions to access their land at a suitable time.

However, if you don’t get on with your neighbours, or they have issues with giving you access,  a more formal option is available for gaining the access, you can consider the Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992(”the Act”), Under the Act, you may apply for an Access Order to Court, to allow access where the works are reasonably required for the preservation of your land.

What the Access Order Covers

For the application of Access Order, you must have valid reasons according to the Act to present to the Court.

These reasons include but are not limited to:

  • The filling or clearance of any ditch on the landowner’s site
  • The cutting back, felling, removal or replacement of any hedge, tree or shrub which is on the landowner’s site which is or is in danger of becoming damaged, diseased or dangerous
  • The maintenance, renovation or repair of a property in order to preserve it; the clearing or repair of any sewers, drains, cables or pipes; the removal or filling in of a ditch.

What the Access Order doesn’t Cover

The Act does not grant Access Order to any new development construction project such as building a new conservatory and erection of scaffolding. You will only be given an Access Order for proposed works that are related to the preservation of the existing property structure, like the ones mentioned above.

Please note that planning permission for a new build does not automatically grant you access to the adjoining or adjacent lands. An Access Order or a negotiation for access with your neighbour is still required.

The Court is also entitled to refuse to grant you the Access Order if it is evident that the neighbours would be greatly disturbed, or their lands would be severely impacted, or anyone you employ would suffer unacceptable hardships.

In both cases, you and your neighbours have to agree on whether you may have access, even if you don’t have an amicable relationship.

Access for this type of work needs to be agreed with the owner directly and is usually subject to party wall surveying procedures or access licences.

A Granted Access Order

An Access Order granted by the Court must state exactly what work needs to be done, when the work would commence, and when it would need to be finished by.

The Court may also order you to pay compensation to your neighbours, should there be any financial loss arising from the access, or pay for any damage that happens to your neighbours’ lands or properties as a result of the work you choose to perform on their lands or properties.

Access can be easily misunderstood, we’d advise getting in touch and taking advice early to ensure that you are fully aware of those rights you have, and more importantly those you don’t!