An easement is defined as a right to use or access another person's property without having ownership of it. Essentially a private right of way, an easement allows those who have no other route to a public highway to use private lanes or driveways in order to reach them. If you cannot access your property directly by a public road then there will most likely be an easement in your Title Deeds. This will give you the right to pass and re-pass over a lane or driveway which leads to a public highway.
Below I have set out some common examples of easements:
When a large property has been redeveloped, split into several different properties and sold off to different owners. The ownership of the lane or driveway will be contained within the title of one property- the servient tenement. The other properties - the dominant tenements - will have a right of way over the land to enable them to access their property from the public highway.
If a property is built with a septic tank it may be constructed on a neighbours land. The tank can be used either exclusively by that property or in common with other nearby properties. An easement can be granted to give those who use the septic tank the right to have their waste drained into the tank and the right to go onto their neighbours land to have the tank emptied, repaired or maintained.
If you live in a semi detached or terraced property it is highly likely that you have been granted easements over your neighbour's land in your title. Your neighbours will have also been granted easements over your land. This allows for pipes, drains and cables to run over and under each other's property to allow the supply of gas, electricity and water.
I have dealt with easement disputes concerning:
Shared rights of way;
costs or contribution to costs for maintaining the right of way;
neighbours behaving as if they have legal right of way when they do not;
individuals blocking neighbour's gutters after taking exception to their neighbour's rainwater running down a shared pipe.
In the majority of cases easements cause no problems to the properties that are affected by them. However, disputes do sometimes occur and in these circumstances prompt action with the assistance of Clough & Willis can ensure that matters are resolved quickly. Some of the problems I have outlined may amount to little more than minor irritations. Depending on the relationship you have with your neighbours, issues may be easily resolved by speaking directly to them and reminding them of the actual right of way if one exists at all.
Easement disputes can have a negative effect the value of a property and deter potential buyers. If you have any issues with your neighbours that you have not been able to resolve get in touch with me as soon as you can and I will provide you with expert guidance on your situation.
I always aim to resolve disputes amicably, whereever possible. When action is required to deal with a difficult and obstructive neighbour, I will guide you through the process whether your case is dealt with in court of by the Adjudicator of the Land Registry.