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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 19592
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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Subject: Access rights to an electricity meter. I own a terraced

Customer Question

Subject: Access rights to an electricity meter.
I own a terraced property that was built in 1996. My neighbours external electricty meter box is positioned on a side wall of their property which is within a covered driveway area of my property (the properties are joined on the first floor, not the ground floor). A previous owner of my property placed an electric roller shutter door at the front end of the covered driveway effectively closing off this area and in the process preventing the neighbour continual free access to their electricity meter. The local planning department have confirmed that the roller shutter door is permitted and I have a letter to this effect. I currently rent out the property and the current tenants allow the neighbour access via the roller shutter door to take meter reading etc (though there is nothing in the shorthold tenancy agreement that requires them to allow this access). This arrangement is currently working fine but I could foresee a future tenant potentially being "difficult" about allowing this access. I have discussed with my neighbour the option of moving their external electricity meter box to another external wall area of their property so that they would not have to rely upon my tenants to get access to their meter (this would probably involve moving the meter box 2-3 metres onto the front wall of their property but still within their curtilage). I have offered to share the cost involved in moving the meter or, if required, cover the whole cost. However my neighbour is reluctant to have their meter moved instead insisting the the roller shutter door is removed (or moved backwards by 2-3 meters so they can again have access to their meter). There is nothing in the deeds relating to this roller door or access rights to their meter. Does my neighbour have any legal rights in requesting that I remove (or move) the roller shutter door? What access rights does my neighbour have to the electricity meter? What would be the implications if my neighbour decided to sell their house or I decided to sell my house? I find it difficult to understand why my neighbour is refusing to accept the solution and financial help I am willing to offer to resolve this so wanted to understand if there are any legal points I need to consider prior to taking this any further or doing nothing at all. If I do nothing what is the worst case scenario for me? Many thanks for your response. AG
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: UK Property Law
Expert:  Stuart J replied 2 years ago.
Would you please summarise the facts?

I need a bit more information please. I am going off line shortly and will be on and off all day (experts on here are also practising lawyers) but will be back later (on and off) today when I will deal further once I have your reply.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Neighbour cannot access her electricity meter due to a roller shutter door on my property. The roller shutter door has planning permission. This was in position before I bought the property.

I have offered to move the meter so the neighbour can have access but they have refused. Instead they have insisted I move or remove the roller shutter door.

What access rights do they have to the meter?

Can they legally insist I move or remove entirely the roller shutter door?

If I do nothing what would be the implications if I sell my property or the neighbour decided to sell their property?

Expert:  Stuart J replied 2 years ago.

Thanks. The planning permission is immaterial. You are hindering access.

This seems like an alleyway between two properties witha flying freehold. Does the neighbour have accessd own the alley in the deeds?

I assume that the neighbour has a key to the roller shutter. If not they should have one. The matter of your tenants is easy enough, it is put into the AST that they have to give access.

If you or the nighbour tried to sell now, then you have to disclose the dispute.

Thanks

LD

 

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

This is not a dispute at this time.

 

It is not an alleyway between the two properties, this driveway is part of my property therefore I own this area.

 

There is no mention in the deeds to my property of access to this area owned by me. The neighbour does not have access to my driveway in any deeds. It is my private property.

Expert:  Stuart J replied 2 years ago.

Thanks. They have probably acquired a precriptive easment then over your property allowing them to access the meter. You are fettering that access with the roller shutter.

The neighbour has to be able to access their meter for safety reasons if nothing else. What would happen if you were on holiday. The main fuse is in the meter box.

I assume the meter pre-dates the shutter

They dont have to accept having the metter moved even if you pay all the costs.

I think that if you went to court you would either have to give them a shutter key or move the shutter back. I would have thought that shutter move was cheaper.

I appreciate that this isnt the answer that you want.

Thanks

LD

 

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

There is no prescriptive easement allowing access to the meter.

 

However I take your point about an emergency and you are correct, the meter does probably pre-date the shutter (as far as I am aware).

 

I am happy to provide a shutter key in principal, however this may be problematic for future tenants (e.g. safety of small children etc) which would need to be written into the AST. The other option is to write into the AST that the tennant has to provide access when requested as you suggested earlier. Although this still does not overcome the problem of access in an emergency.

 

Moving the meter is almost certainly going to be cheaper than moving the shutter.

 

I am still baffled as to why they won't agree to a meter move.

 

Thanks

 

 

Expert:  Stuart J replied 2 years ago.

I'm just about to leave the office. Then I have a few domestic things to do but I will be back later on this evening and I will reply to you fully then.

LD

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
OK thank you
Expert:  Stuart J replied 2 years ago.

I'm sorry I'm just having a few PC problems and will get back to you as soon as possible. You do not have to reply to this post.

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