What is a right of way?
A right of way is a type of easement that allows one property’s occupants to pass over another person’s land. Usually, a right of way will be a pathway or a road/driveway, which provides access to a property. The person who uses the right of way is sometimes called a ‘dominant owner’.
What is a substantial interference?
If your right of way is blocked in any way, this can cause inconvenience. However, to be able to take action against the person causing the inconvenience, the blockage must be a substantial interference.
To meet the definition of substantial interference a dominant owner must be able to show the interference has more than a trivial impact on their enjoyment of the right. The starting point is to obtain expert legal advice on exactly what your rights are.
Previous cases have shown that new a gate in place is not always enough to cause a substantial interference. However, if a gate is locked, and no key is provided for access, this would certainly be a substantial interference. Previous cases have also found that building works will not necessarily amount to substantial interference if the right of way can still be exercised conveniently. Another example of substantial interference is having a number of unlocked gates in place which all would need to be opened and then closed in turn before the right can be exercised. Each case is individual and fact sensitive and we can provide you with advice on whether or not your access rights are being unreasonably interfered with.
What to do about it?
If you believe there is a substantial interference with your right of way you must be able to show that you are firstly entitled to benefit from the right of way. We can advise on this as it will require analysis of your deeds and all Land Registry documents for both properties. Upon proving this, writing to the party causing the interference may result in the interference being removed. Should this not be successful, you may wish to look into obtaining a Court order that the neighbours remove the interference.
For further information, please contact our Specialist Litigation Team on 0800 088 6004.