Can my neighbours resurface our driveway? Sharing a drive with the people next door puts us on the road to trouble

Question: I share a supposedly double-width open-plan drive with the neighbour next door. Can they have their half resurfaced without asking my permission? 

The driveways are quite narrow, so when they drive out of theirs the front end of their car swings over my side and when I drive out of mine I have to swing my car over their half. 

It is not a problem except that when their driveway is being dug up, we won’t be able to use our side, so I want some say in the matter. What do I do? 

Answer: Look at your title deeds to establish the correct position on ownership of the driveway and the rights you each have, and any restrictions there may be regarding such matters as maintenance of it. 

You may own the whole of the driveway with the other having rights of way over it, or you could each own half. 

Either way, as the driveway is open-plan and somewhat narrow it is likely that you will each have been granted certain rights of way and there are likely to be covenants stating that you must not obstruct each other’s access.

When resurfacing their half, if your neighbours are inconsiderate and prevent you from accessing your half, they could be in breach of covenant and may also be causing a nuisance. 

You could take court action but that would be very costly. 

Try to resolve the situation with them. Speak to them, find out how long the works are likely to take and if the inconvenience to you can be minimised.

Consider whether it may be cost-effective to have your half resurfaced at the same time.

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. Questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a solicitor specialising in residential property.

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