Terrace Row Alleyway ISSUES!

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    Terrace Row Alleyway ISSUES!

    This subject must come up quite often! I inherited my father's house which is mid terrace and have managed it since 2012. It's the 3rd house from the end of the terrace and as long as I can remember the alley way at the back of the terrace stopped at the 2nd house in from the end. Photographs taken in 2013 certainly show an very old fence that ran between my house and the 2nd house cutting off the alleyway. In 2013/14 I added a gate to cross the alleyway and secure the garden area. Now after the subject had never been raised I have been contacted by the new owner of the 2nd house from the end who in his first communication to me asked me to "GET IT SORTED AS URGENT" being diplomatic I pointed out his house never had access to the alleyway but always had a fence. And that he should perhaps refer back to the previous owner, land searches or his own memory when he first looked around the house before buying. Oddly enough the end terrace house owner (who I get on well with) Also has absorbed the alleyway as part of his private car port and is gated the access to the side road. Seems to me a better approach would be to discuss access with either neighbour for access for any intended work rather than make demands. 2nd message arrived today asking have I arranged workmen to allow access? My thought is that he bought the property "sold as seen" and if he had any concerns he should have raised them before purchase. But I could be wrong! Apologies in advance as I understand I may have posted in the wrong forum but I tried conveyancing and the site wouldn't allow me to post a new topic!

    #2
    When erecting a terrace of houses it was almost always a feature of a design that access to the rear of each of the houses was provided by a common accessway, with each house granted a right of way over the whole length of such a path.

    This was primarily to allow for coal deliveries, which are no longer a common part of daily life, as they were when many of the terraces were first built.

    The web-site www.old-maps.co.uk provides copies of early Ordnance Survey maps which often show a separate path leading from the public highway to the backs of a terrace of houses. When I lived in London this was very common, as it was in most other parts of the country.

    In 2021 there is far less neighbourliness than would have been the case in earlier years, so selfish people are often prepared to block off a common accessway by erecting fences across the path originally set out as a common right of way.

    What you have described may be one of those situations, so you may want to obtain a copy of the register of title for the new owner's property to see if a right of way is referred to.

    There is legal authority about a property that started using a right of way after it had remained unused for over 100 years.
    The court ruled that this was not a trespass over the land whose owner had objected to such use re-starting, because a right of way can only be extinguished by a written deed, not by non-use.

    Before making a decision as to how to deal with your new neighbour I suggest that some research may be needed to establish if the neighbour has a legal right to use all of the alleyway, even if it has been blocked for quite a long period of time.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by pilman View Post
      When erecting a terrace of houses it was almost always a feature of a design that access to the rear of each of the houses was provided by a common accessway, with each house granted a right of way over the whole length of such a path.
      .
      Really? I thought they only had access along it as far as their own house so the far end terrace could prevent access.
      I'm not quite clear of the set up here. Does he need to go through your garden to get to the back of his house? In which case he almost certainly has a right of way, it would be very unusual for him not to. If your house is past his then it's unlikely he has a right of way.

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        #4
        So my tenants called me over the weekend in a state of Alarm! The neighbour has decided to cut through the 2 posts holding my gate in place and remove it. leaving my garden open to the public. He's stolen the lock of the gate, cut into my fence and installed a new gate into his garden. ALL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!!! Police were called and he's been told to not enter the garden again. He said he wouldn't but the tenants have caught him nipping in and out trampling the flower beds and solar powered lamps.
        Attached Files

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by royw View Post
          Really? I thought they only had access along it as far as their own house so the far end terrace could prevent access.
          I'm not quite clear of the set up here. Does he need to go through your garden to get to the back of his house? In which case he almost certainly has a right of way, it would be very unusual for him not to. If your house is past his then it's unlikely he has a right of way.
          It's a very good point. My house is 3rd in from the side road and end terrace house. His is 2nd in from end house and side road. SO why go to all this trouble for access to his garden (for the builders) if the shortest route would be from the end terrace house which already has vehicle access from the side? See pic above in original posting. Also I found that he's not a new home owner as he'd told my tnants but the original owner. His house was raided by the police earlier in the year for being a "Marajuana Grow Op". The Polish family that were there moved back to Poland for a no. of months and he thought it a good idea to give a complete stranger access to the house with their belongings still in it! That tenant went awol so he rented to another person who then was confronted by the returning family who wondered "who's sleeping in my bed" and where's my lap top!!! ....I'm really not making this up. Due diligence I will make an application to have the common access absorbed into the deeds for my house.
          Attached Files

          Comment


            #6
            The position is as described by Pilman in post 2. It is very difficult indeed to abandon a right of way. Erecting a fence is not enough.

            If the position is the very common one of old terraced houses backing onto an alley, a right of way for each house is going to have been granted or arisen under one rule of law or another. If the alley was always closed at one end there may be a case for arguing that the right only extends one way from the back of a house to the street, but the counter-argument will be that the right extended to getting to the rear of all the houses backing onto the alley. If the alley was always open at both ends the right will extend along the whole length.

            There can be no question of any owner applying to have any part of the alley incorporated in his title on the basis of adverse possession for the very simple practical reason that the Land Registry will not entertain it.

            Comment


              #7
              What does the title state about the alley and what does the title plan show?

              Comment


                #8
                A simple check of the register will solve the problem. I have a similar house with access given to all properties in the block, 3 to the left of the alleyway and 4 to the right.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Kape65 View Post
                  A simple check of the register will solve the problem.
                  Not necessarily. If easements are noted then that does indeed confirm the position. However, the absence of any note of easements is not confirmation that none exist.The Land Registry says: Easements over registered land that have arisen by implied grant or reservation or prescription do not have to be completed by registration to take effect at law.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Lawcruncher,

                    I will accept that, however the OP has stated that no access has been used for as long as he can remember therefor if the easement isn't marked on the plan I'm not sure how the neighbour could prove a right of access.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      The short answer is that proving the original layout would be enough. If a developer puts up a row of houses with an alley at the rear and access to the alley from the houses a right of way will be implied.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        So if the easement isn't marked on the neighbours plans he still has a right of way?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          An easment/right of way most likely won't be marked on the neighbours plans - simply because the plans for the properties will finish at what was the original end wall of their back yards and not extend over the alleyway.

                          Just as if it was a wider 'back street' the plans of the properties would not extend over the street.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Depends on the property I guess. My property and all similar properties I have seen and, guessing from the photos posted here, the OP's property have the right of way running through their garden and not outside their boundary.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I've also seen that, but in those cases there was no seperate allyway, simply a gate in each dividing wall so that coal deliverys (and night soil men for older properties) could get through to each coalbunker (out house).

                              The OP's situation does look like that from the photos, but it does say 'alleyway' in the title and I've know people to knock down their brick back walls in order to annex 'their' part of the alleyway.

                              TBH if the neighbour is sawing through gateposts, and stamping on flowerbeds and solar lights, then things have got way out of hand and it's not going to be resolved by a quiet discussion.

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