Easement Access problems

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    Easement Access problems

    Bought a residential plot 20 years ago. Accessed initially over an unmade Lane over the Common - presumably should be local authority maintained. Then there are various lengths of lane in three seperate ownerships. Usual searches carried out @ time of buying plot but no issues re the use of access over the lane, or requests for payment for access, came up or requests for contributions to maintenance. Also had several conversations with one owner at the time but nothing raised by him
    Built house at that time & no problems although the above owner, through his solicitor asked for contributions, in 1998, for maintenance which 'I was aware were my responsibilities' but only after work had been carried out & completed
    I replaid saying I was not aware of any resposibilities for contribution; that in any case contact should have been made before doing the work; that I did not rule out contributing but suggested that this should be properly established & agreed at the time. I have heard nothing further since that time until below
    Now have planning to build small cottage in part of my garden with access over the same lane. Wrote to all neighbours before applying for planning as a matter of courtesy. Within 3 days had a solicitors letter from the neighbour I spoke to 20 years ago demanding payment over his length of lane [ only about one 30th of the lengh of his lane would require access over in this instance ] before access would be allowed. Also again that I should contribute to maintenance
    Two other houses fairly recently built at the top of the lane with access being needed over 100% of his lane & it appears he successfully demanded & got £ 30,000 for the first one & £100,000 for the second one from the owner of the land to allow access over his lane
    Wrote to his solicitor asking what had changed since I bought 20 years ago & did not have to pay for access over the lane. Also asked for agreements or anything else that would justify the claims
    Response just states that they do not need to confirm the law & that I sould get advice. Not too helpful in the circumstances
    The other two owners have not demanded any payments for access over their sections of lane in relation to either of the other two houses, now built @ the top of the lane, or to me
    Am I liable for any payment for access for the proposed house over a short lenth of lane, & if so how is the cost valued, or for maintenance to the lane. I volantered to pay for any damage over the short lenth during my building works but that has been ignored
    Any advice would be welcome

    Unless there is a deed of grant where maintenance obligations are set out, then the Common law does not recognise any obligation to maintain a right of way.

    If you have a right of way over land owned by a number of other people, then they should not be able to stop you accessing the plot that is known as the dominant tenement, over their land known as the servient tenement. Old English phrases for dominant land or servient land as one piece of land serves the other.

    If you can establish that a right of way exists for the land you now own then locating another house on that plot should not be considered as an excessive burden on the servient land, which is a claim that could be made if the servient land-owner decided to be as difficult as possible, as this one appears to be.

    Also if this is common land registered as such, there is a procedure for having a right of way granted by the Government if there is a possibility of someone claiming there is no right of way that can be used by a second house on the plot.


      If the land to which the lane leads has a dwelling on it and another dwelling is to be built, thus doubling the vehicular traffic along the right of way then surely this is "Intensification" which the owner of the land crossed by the right of way is entitled to compensation. Try and get a copy of "Gale's Rights of Way"


        There is quite a good analysis of intensification on the web-site below.
        The caravan site that considerably increased its use of a right of way was not considered to be intensification, but the other examples show how every case was dealt with on the facts.


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