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Warning for landowners and access users

A specialist property litigation solicitor is warning of the need to check property access rights carefully to prevent costly arguments.

Helen Clutterbuck, solicitor in the Litigation & Dispute Resolution team at North West law firm Napthens, reports that she has seen several recent cases where one party accessing another’s property – with agreement by both parties – has gone on to cause problems. This can include impacting on a business’ profits.

This is common in both rural and urban environments, with, for instance, a farmer using his neighbour’s land to access a field or other facility.

In towns, it may be that one business accesses its premises via a right of way across a neighbouring business’ property.

Helen said: “The Litigation team has seen a number of disputes recently where a landowner has become fed up with another party accessing their land.

“This is often down to a presumed right of way that has been in use for some time, and highlights an important issue for both a landowner and those using the disputed access.

“Getting rights of way established early on is vital – we have seen a business affected by an increase in traffic, for instance, or a farmer simply getting fed up of their land being utilised at all times of day.

“The best thing to do is to check the deeds relating to the property or land in question. For a landowner who no longer wishes another party to use right of way, they must find out exactly what right exists and what access is allowed.

“For someone using an access way, or perhaps buying property or land and expecting to use it, they must make sure that sufficient rights are in place – business or private.

“Checking this information can prevent costly disputes from occurring, so the best option is to consult a legal expert for advice at an early stage.”