‘My daughter’s freeholder wants to stop her parking in her space. How can we fight back?’

Dear Property Doctors, 

My daughter bought a property with off-street parking, and the Land Registry form confirms this. The conveyancing solicitor, recently asked to review it, said the lease does not prevent you parking on your own land, unless it is blocking pedestrian access.

But now her freeholder has said she can no longer park her car to the side of the property, as it constitutes an obstruction, and threatened a court ruling to stop this.

The lease refers to the side area as a pathway, and there is no mention of it being a driveway or access way. It is blocked at the end by a shed (it has always been there) so rear property access for anything larger than a wheelbarrow or wheelchair is not possible. The gap between the fence and house, when the car is parked, is the same distance as the one between the shed to house, so I observe that no obstruction exists.

She has lived there since 2009 without ever having been requested not to park there. This whole situation occurred when the freeholder renovated the downstairs property and asked her to contribute to create formal parking at the rear of the properties. She refused as this was of no benefit to her and would leave the rear garden, the outlook from her bedroom, as a car park, so it is not desirable.

Does she have a right to park there, and how can we fight back?

GW, by email

If your daughter owns the land to the side of the property then, unless there is anything in her lease to say otherwise, she is entitled to park there unless someone else has a right of way over her land that would be obstructed.  

Normally a right of way would be expressly granted and would be registered at the Land Registry. In certain circumstances, however, a right of way can be acquired by “prescription” that is 20 years long use.  

If there is a right of way then the question of whether parking constitutes an obstruction is if any inconvenience is caused to the person exercising that right. From what you say, this does not seem very likely but all these cases have to be decided on their own facts.  

The sensible thing would be to negotiate with the person exercising the right and come up with a satisfactory compromise, but I suspect the freeholder of the property would also need to be involved in those discussions. 

Ideally your agreement should be comprised in one or more legal documents that would have to be prepared by a solicitor and which could be lodged at the land registry. Obviously there would be an expense involved, but it would save disputes later on.

David Fleming is the head of property litigation at William Heath & Co solicitors (williamheath.co.uk)

Every week, The Telegraph’s Property Doctors bring expertise on renovations and DIY, planning, buying and selling, lettings, legal issues and taxes. Send your questions to propertydoctors@telegraph.co.uk

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