Martel Maides and Collas Crill presented a briefing on 10th July 2014 on the impending Access to Neighbouring Land Law and how it is likely to work in practice. The law was approved in principle by the States of Guernsey on the 28th May 2014. The briefing was very well attended by 90 guests from the local business community as well as private landlords and developers.
Whilst the legislation is still to be prepared and finalised, Martel Maides are very pleased that the States have given the go ahead and good progress is being made. Over recent years some property sales have fallen foul of the lack of any legislation and have proved unsaleable in circumstances where the purchaser needs a mortgage. For example, where the gable of a property sits on the boundary with a neighbouring property, and can only be accessed from the neighbour’s land to carry out repairs and maintenance, the neighbour has to grant access to their property as there is no statutory right of access. Whilst most neighbours are willing to be neighbourly and grant permission, not all neighbours are willing to enter into a formal written agreement. In such circumstances lenders can be unwilling to grant mortages on the affected property as the lack of any formal right of access could mean that the subject property falls into disrepair.
Collas Crill provided a good insight into the new law and how it is likely to work making the following key points:
- A person wishing to access another’s land to carry out works may seek permission by way of a Royal Court Order.
- It must be necessary for the reasonable enjoyment of the applicant’s property.
- The applicant must show that works cannot be undertaken without access.
- They must prove this to civil standard (balance of probablility).
- There will be a presumption in favour of granting permission.
- This can be rebutted if the land owner can show that access would cause him damage, loss of enjoyment or other prejudice which outweighs the applicant’s claim.
- The Order can cover one-off access, for specified periods, at specified intervals, or in perpetuity.
- Orders will always require that access is subject to proper notice and certain terms.
It will be confirmed in statute that each party will have rights of access to maintain party structures.
Statutory entitlement to have, keep, and maintain (but not improve) services in neighbouring land in situ at date of commencement.
Three types will be available to the land owner:
- Compensation for financial loss – Court will have discretion to assess whether land owner has incurred any significant financial loss (e.g. in the value of their property).
- Enhancement of applicant’s property – Court will have discretion to require the applicant pays the land owner a specified sum if the access facilitates work which significantly increases the value of the applicant’s property (sharing the beneficial benefit).
- Compensation for nuisance – The Courts may be unwilling to award compensation for this, but will have the ability only where it feels there has been substantial loss of privacy or other substantial inconvenience.
For further information on how any of this affects your property or its value please contact Martel Maides and if you have any specific legal questions please contact Jason Green or Paul Nettleship of Collas Crill.
The attendance also gave Martel Maides Commercial an opportunity to showcase this newly refurbished office which is availale to rent. For further details of this office space please see the Vieille Cour office details on our website or follow this link – Vieille Cour Office To Let