We live and work in densely developed and populated towns and cities. Neighbours, whether residential or commercial, often find they need access next door to carry out development, work and maintenance. Unless the right to access is properly dealt with, miserable, expensive, time wasting boundary disputes can result. You don’t want that!
There are a few ways the law can help. You might already have rights over neighbouring land by way of an easement. They would normally be found in a conveyance, a transfer or a separate deed. If there is nothing expressly written, you may have what are known as implied rights. Your title deeds are the best place to look first, to check.
There may be no easement, or your easement won’t cover the work you want to do. If there is a shared boundary, you will need to use the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. For work on or near to a boundary which is a “party”; or shared boundary, you must serve notices on your neighbours before you start work. That allows the work to be considered and agreed within a framework, making sure everyone’s property is protected. If you get a Party Wall Notice, don’t ignore it! There are time limits to respond, and if you don’t, your neighbour could carry on!
Also, there is the little used Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992 when the boundary is not shared. The reason this method is rarely used, is because it requires a court application to show that the court order is “reasonably necessary for the preservation of the whole or any part of the [owner’s] land”. But it could be useful if the last (and best) method of gaining access, fails.
That’s by negotiation and agreement. If good relations exist, discussions between neighbours can be beneficial. They need not be extensive or complicated, but to gain open agreement early, is the cheapest and quickest solution; and that’s even if you must also serve a Party Wall Notice under the 1996 Act. It’s best to have the agreement written so that it is clear and covers everything you need.