We own a plot of land in Leicestershire where access is gained over a private road. When we brought the land we were given an indemnity cover for the access because there was an absence of easement in the title deeds. With this insurance we were given declarations from the previous owners to declare that the access had been used uninterrupted without hindrance or dispute since 1944 and so we were happy we were covered in respect of the access.

We now have planning permission to build a house on the land and so we recently contacted the owner of the road (who is the owner of the farm that the road serves access to) to introduce ourselves, and out of courtesy to explain the process of our build to make sure we don’t cause them any inconvenience during the build itself (i.e. obstructing the road, installing services etc..), which seemed like the right thing to do. The owner asked about the access and has since asked for a financial offer in return for having the right of access written into the title deeds.

So we have the following questions:

– Because we have the declarations and the access has been used for 71 years continuously without any objections, have we acquired access by prescriptive easement?

– Is a prescriptive easement something you have to apply for?

– The declarations only state the word access and do not refer to the type of access that the land has been used for i.e. vehicle or pedestrian. Could this be interpreted as though only pedestrian access has been used in the past?

– If we don’t have a prescriptive easement for vehicle access are we inclined to pay the owner for the right of access over their land? And what guidance should be followed to determine that value?

Many thanks James and Ally

  • Jeremy Murfitt

    James and Ally

    You will need to show 20 years of use of the access, clearly not a problem. The prescriptive access would need to be registered with the Land Registry. The area of law I am not aware of is whether an access over 3rd party land can be related to the use of that land? By this I mean does access to a field over a period of years differ from an access for a residential property. I don’t think there is a restriction but your solicitor will be able to advise. You would have to get “Statutory Declarations” from the previous owners to confirm the period they have used the access and by what means, e.g. by foot, by vehicle.

    See the two links below. I suggest you seek legal advice to get it sorted – that will cost much less than paying what would effectively be a “ransom”.



    Hope you sort it out.


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