Neighbours sharing driveways to reach their own property is becoming increasingly common, with developers looking to maximise the amount of housing they can build on their land. With older properties, it is not unusual for there to be a gap between properties just wide enough for a single car, and with each property having their own garage at the rear.
Disputes can arise, for example because a neighbour parks a car on the driveway or constructs a feature such as a fence which prevents the other neighbour from having access to their garage.
The starting point with such disputes is to check the property deeds and Land Registry documents, to see who owns what land, and who has what rights over it. If there are no rights of way recorded then that is not always fatal as rights can be acquired based on long use, provided it is without permission of the land owner, which is known as “prescription”.
A right of way is usually a right to pass over another person’s land for the purpose of going to and from your land. It does not give a right to stop or linger on the other person’s land, such as to park a car.
The landowner must respect the right of way and not interfere with its use. Only if there is a substantial interference with the ability to use the right of way will the courts intervene. Whether an interference is “substantial” is subjective and each case turns on its own facts.
If you are involved in a dispute over a shared driveway, or if you would like more information on any of the issues raised above or on property disputes in general, please contact Philip Bagley in our property disputes team by emailing [email protected] or calling 0113 368 7818.