Right of Access with a bolt on the gate

cessna152September 22, 2012

Here is the situation. My wife andI moved into our new property about a year ago into a mid terrace. In the back garden there is gates on either side, both of which are locked with padlocks.

We checked the deeds and with our solicitor and discovered we had right of access through both gates. Since the house on our left is the end, we asked the owners (a pair of pensioners) about this access. They claimed we had no access and had never had access. They also claimed that they had a peice of paper proving this. Politely I asked to see it, but they declined to show me.

I asked for a key for the padlock, but was refused. In the end, for the sake of cordiality, we left it at that. But yesterday, my wife took my keys to work with her, meaning I had to leave the front door open when I went to work. When I'd tried to go out the back way, the padlockd gates stoppd me, and neither neighbour answered the door so I couldn't ask them to unlock it.

That evening, I once again bit the bullet and visited the pensioners on the left, exlaining what had happened that morning, adding that if I'd been in possession of a padlock key, I could have left our front door locked. I once again asked for a spare key and was again refused.

I stated the legal standpoint of right of access, but they disagreed, once more citing a piece of paper which proved we had no access into their back garden. I asked to see it and they refused. I asked them whether they would remove the padlock, they said no.

So here is what I'm thinking. I am going to boltcutter their padlock off, replace it with our own padlock and post a spare key for it through their letterbox. I feel I have been more than fair with them, but enough is enough.

What do you think?

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I am a little confused by your British terms. By Back garden, do you mean what we Yanks call a back yard? Does your home not have a rear entrance that goes into your rear garden. Who owns this area and how does your neighbor thinks he has control of what sounds like your back yard? Is this some type of common area? If you give your neighbor a spare key, all he has to do is remove you lock and replace your lock.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 11:39AM
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I, too, was having a hard time understanding the exact layout. IF you have a deed stating you have the right to use this area, then have you considered having your lawyer send a letter? That may or may not be a custom in your country--it would be the first step for us, 'across the pond'. It would be best to do things legally, rather than taking the law into your own hands. At least check with your lawyer to see if it's okay for you to do the lock switch.

Alternatively, if you do want to handle this yourself, I'd do this: Make a copy of your deed, highlighting the 'right of access' clause. Take the copy (NOT the original) to the neighbors' door, along with your bolt cutters. When they answer, politely hand them the documentaion that you have the right to use the gates. Tell them you're going to give them 15 (10?) minutes to produce the paper they claim to have that states the contrary, and if they can't, the lock's coming off. Would be interesting to see the reaction, wouldn't it?

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 6:25PM
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I agree with the above. Just replacing the lock with your own and giving them a set of keys will only mean they will go out, unlock the new lock and replace it again with their own lock and not give you a key. So you're right back to where you started.

To be honest, I don't think that have any piece of paper at all. They're bluffing.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 7:17AM
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Agree with PPs--you do have a piece of paper showing that you have the right of access. The neighbors only say that they do. Bring them a copy of your "piece of paper," and ask to see theirs. If they can't produce it, then inform them that they can either give you a key or you can take matters to the next level.

Or you could get another key made for your front door.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 9:12AM
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Well....what happened!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 4:12PM
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No one ever follows up.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 2:20PM
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LOL, i should read the last response before starting through a thread like this. Now it's the episode you wanted to finish that gets cut off by "Heidi"

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 10:15PM
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It has been my experience on these boards that when the OP receives logical responces that their silence becomes deafening.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 9:43AM
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What we do in my neck of the woods is use a chain, which allows several locks to be put on the same gate. So the owner can have a key to his own lock, the renter has a key, the electric company has their own lock so they can get in to read the meter, etc. But no one has to have a key to the other person's lock.

Of course, the problem with this one is the dispute over the easement, not the lock itself.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 12:50PM
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