Posted on 26.10.16
We might think of trespassing as cutting across a private road straying onto a stranger`s property.
But a top property lawyer has warned that even when it comes to our next door neighbours, it`s possible to be an accidental trespasser – and law breaker – even without realising it.
From parking the car to putting out the bins, there are several ways in which seemingly lawful neighbours commit acts of trespass – and could even lead to being fought over at the high court.
“Trespass is the tort of illegally entering another person’s land” explains Danielle Clements a leading lawyer at Gorvins solicitors who specialises in property and neighbour disputes. “Yet many people don`t think of how every day of the week they might be committing acts of trespass on their neighbour`s land.”
These include whether a `for sale` sign overhangs a neighbour`s land, using a private driveway to turn a vehicle in, or installing a satellite dish or aerial which falls onto a neighbour`s part of a shared chimney breast. It also relates to the window cleaner placing his ladders in next door`s path in order to reach your windows.
“Take for instance the way you park your car,” says Danielle. “You have to ask yourself, is this encroaching on your neighbours land or are you using a space in a car park that your neighbour has exclusive rights to?”
And when it comes to bins, beware of either inadvertently placing them on your neighbour`s land or accessing their property to collect and use the bin without their express permission. Even children throwing a ball onto a neighbours land and then going to collect it could be an issue since the act of throwing the ball over the boundary is considered trespasser.
Of course, the easiest way to resolve these matters is to do so amicably. But part of the problem may lie in the fact that as a nation we are no longer as neighbourly as we once were.
One survey of 2000 adults found that six in ten Britons do not get on with one of their neighbours. And research earlier this year found that 17 per cent of us haven’t so much as said hello to our neighbours in more than a week.
The obvious remedy for trespass is stop committing the act advises Danielle Clements. `If someone is doing it to you, and a civil request to stop doesn`t work then a letter from a lawyer should deter further problems. If that isn`t enough, the landowner may be entitled to bring injunctive proceedings if the trespass continues, followed by a claim for damages . Injunctions usually come with a penal notice attached so in the event that they are breached the neighbour could be committed to prison or ordered to pay a fine. The neighbour could also be ordered to pay compensation for the loss suffered as a result of the trespass. . So it could end up costing quite a lot of money.
“That`s why the best advice is never to assume that just because someone lives next door you are free to take even the smallest step on their land as you choose.”