Obtaining an Easement by Way of Prescriptive Rights

When you purchase a property, your legal advisor will usually give detailed advice on the contents of the Deeds such as restrictions on the land or rights that it benefits from or is subject to.

Many people are already familiar with the concept of having a “right of way” over somebody elses land. These are usually contained in the Deeds to a property and are known as easements.

Imagine a block of Victorian era terraced houses, with the gardens belonging to the mid-terrace houses landlocked by surrounding properties. Naturally, each house is accessible from the front of the property, but how can you access the back of the property? There will often be a right to cross the neighbouring back gardens to access your own property from the rear. This is a common example of an easement.

Sometimes a property will have benefited from an arrangement such as the above, but without an easement having been legally created. But what happens if a neighbour puts up a fence, barring entry to your property? In this case, a seller may find that they have no legal right to access the back of their terraced garden – or worse, no right to access their property at all. In this situation, it may be possible to claim an easement by way of prescription.

If a property owner has consistently been using another party’s land in this way for twenty years or more, (without permission, stealth or force) then a prescriptive right may have been created. Thursfields are able to assist with a Statutory Declaration (a written statement of fact that is signed in the presence of a solicitor) to help prove the prescriptive rights exist. An application to the Land Registry may be made to have the right added onto the Deeds.

The rules surrounding prescriptive rights can be complex, such as when the neighbouring land is what is known as “commons land”. Fortunately, Thursfields have an experienced property team who will be able to assist in all aspects of your sale, purchase or other property transaction – be it easements, rights of way or anything else you need.

To discuss how prescriptive rights may affect the use of your property, or to find out more about our fixed fee conveyancing quotes please contact our property team on 0345 20 73 72 8 or email conveyancing@thursfields.co.uk

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