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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 22618
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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Hi, the land to the rear of our house is unadopted. The back

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Hi, the land to the rear of our house is unadopted. The back of our houses face the back of another small row of houses and there is a large area of rough ground in between. This land is unadopted and the Council have confirmed this. We have lived in this property for almost 21 years and tended the area with stones and plants. Recently, we decided to fence the area off as we became fedup with dogs in the area fowling the stones and also for a little privacy in the warm summer months to sunbathe. Can we be asked to take this down if anyone complains and also, what is the distance we are legally allowed to go out by from our back wall if at all. One of the neighbours suggested 5 feet but I won't feel happy until I have heard from a professional. Many thanks. Hayley M Newton, Heywood, Lancashire.

Hello, I am Law Denning and I am a practising solicitor in a High Street practice. I have been an expert on this website in UK law since 2008. During that time, as you appreciate, I have answered thousands of questions from satisfied users on a variety of subjects.

Because we are all in practice with clients and court and other users, I might not always respond in minutes, particularly evenings and weekends. Please bear with me in that case

It is my pleasure to try and assist you with this today. Please bear with me while I gather some further information from you in order for me to be able to advise you fully.

Unless I have all the facts that I need, my answer would not be accurate.

How long have you tended it for? Has anyone else used it?

Do you know who owns it.? You say unadopted. Do you mean unregsitered?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The back itself is alleygated at three points. Sometimes residents park cars on it but generally its an area for the local children to play. We have tended the area for several years, in excess of 15. The area in question has been used by myself of my husband to park on for as long as we have lived in the property which is 21 years this August. What we have actually done, is fenced off the same area that is usually occupied by my husbands van or my car. We have not blocked access for people to walk through the back and use each of the three alleygates. When I approached the council a few years ago to ask if they would consider rendering the floor with tarmac, they stated the land was unadopted and they were not responsible. I approached the person who we pay the ground rent to who also happens to be a Solicitor concerning a different matter some years ago. One of our neighbours wanted to completely fence off the area which would cut off one of the access points and I wanted advice. The Solicitor said as far as he was concerned he didn't care for domestics and wouldn't get involved!! Directly across from the back of our house, beyond the unadopted land I am speaking about, there is a piece of land which is fenced off and originally belonged to the house adjacent. The land was bought by a builder and he has planning permission to build two bungalows. No work has ever commenced on this area and as it stands, this land which can be viewed from my sons bedroom window is overgrown with weeds and shrubs. My concern is that if/when this builder requires access to the site, could he demand that we take down the fence? The land is not wide enough for large building machinery or wagons etc whether our fence was erected or not so I would not have thought it possible as there would always be a car there in any case. Also, my other concern was that the neighbour at the end (I am the third from the end) who never parks to the rear or uses the area has now decided that she is concerned about getting her car down the back. There is plenty of room to get her vehicle down the back however, the neighbour in between has a very large boat. He has stated that this will be moving in August but the end neighbour seems particularly concerned all of a sudden and I just want to be sure of the facts. I have no issues with taking the fence down if I am in any way overstepping the mark legally but wondered what I am allowed to do if the fence has to come down. Sorry for the complicated issues here, I hope you can make some sense of it. Many thanks, Hayley.

If the whole area was fenced off and divided between you, who would object?
incidentally there is 5ft rule or any other rule. It comes down to how long you have exclusivley, to exclusion of others, occupied the land and treated it as yrs. Not fencing it actually harms yr current claim!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hello again,


Just to be clear, the area I have fenced off which is literally enough to fit my Vauxhall Meriva and open one door (not fully I might add) which has been tended for 15 years plus with plants and stones and generally looked after and parked on. I have left more than adequate room for neighbours to park and bypass on foot and the 3 alleygates are all still accessible as before. The main concern was whether or not builders could demand I remove the fence as it will restrict their access if/when work begins on the site. Should they insist on bringing wagons down the very small area of land in question, they could damage the fence as there is precious little room for our own vehicles let alone construction vehicles. Also I am concerned about whether neighbours could demand we take it down. Relations are good between us but one in particular seems to be questioning it. Thank you.

Thank you. Who has documented access over this land, if anyone? The builder?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

How would I find out who has documented access? Thank you.

I suggest you get an application in for adverse possession ASAP as you have over 12 years exclusive use.. I would also fence it now.

Until yr application is completed there is an argument to be had if builder wants access.

You can only find out who has access by looking at their deeds and yrs. If the land is unregd it can be almost impossible to find out who owns it

The builder might not have developed it because unless there is agred or documented access the houses might be almost impossible to sell.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you ever so much for all of your help. I am sorry to be a pain but should the awkward neighbour begin a campaign against it, am I within my rights to tell them that I am not blocking their way or causing an obstruction and that I am within my rights to do so. They were actually considering fencing a small area themselves at one point so this information would be useful for them too!! Thank you again and I will be sure to rate your answers positively. Please advise on the neighbour situation!! Thank you.

Its no problem.
they have no objection unless a: you obstruct their right of way (if they have enjoyed it for 20 years they acquire a precriptive easment) or if you encroach on their land.
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