My neighbour keeps parking on my property. Have they acquired a right?

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A client contacted us recently complaining that a neighbour had been parking a car in their office car park without consent. The matter had been ongoing for several years. The client asked for advice on whether the neighbour had acquired a right to park.

Owen Franks, solicitor in Ashtons’ Commercial Property team says:

There are a number of ways in which the neighbour may obtain rights, via the creation of an easement. An easement can be granted expressly but assuming that is not the case, the key grounds to establish are use for 20 years (or more), without force, stealth/secrecy or permission. Presumably the neighbour hasn’t been using the car park for this long?

Assuming not, my advice would be to object to the parking to avoid the neighbour acquiring such rights further down the line. Have a discussion with them and state that they are not permitted to park (followed up with a confirmatory letter). I would also suggest installing signage stating that the car park is to be used solely by your own employees and visitors. This would likely be sufficient to defeat a claim for prescribed rights in the future.

Alternatively, if you are willing to allow the parking, you should specifically grant consent to the same by way of licence (i.e. granting permission to the parking). This would defeat the “without permission” ground referred to above and would mean you could revoke the permission at a later date.

In circumstances like these, action is usually required. To passively allow the parking to continue could result in granting unintended rights. At Ashtons we take a proactive approach to all things property. If you need assistance please get in touch.

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