Last edited 22 Mar 2021

Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992



[edit] Introduction

The Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992 (also referred to as ANLA 1992) enables a property owner to access a neighbour’s property in order to undertake work that has been designated as necessary on their own land.

In some instances, this access is available through an easement. An easement is a right which a person has over land owned by someone else. Easements are normally attached to the land and included in a deed to the property. They are not generally associated with a single property owner and can be considered to last in perpetuity.

However, when an easement or other type of covenant is not in place and informal arrangements can not be made between neighbours, the property owner may need to request permission to access the land through ANLA 1992. Otherwise, if boundaries are violated for repairs or improvements, the property owner may risk being charged with unlawful access.

[edit] Background

Before ANLA 1992, common law was often used to settle disputes over access to land (if an easement was not in place or an informal agreement could not be reached). Under common law, individual land rights rights were considered more important than anything else, including any property modifications that might be required for safety purposes.

When common law was not used, statutory right to access might be addressed under the London Building Act 1939 in London. This Act gave owners of certain buildings access to neighbouring land in order to undertake repairs to dangerous structures situated on the boundary of the two properties.

The purpose of ANLA 1992 was to clarify access for repair purposes through the creation of a general right to access for a wider range of instances (which had not been the case with The 1939 Act), including the lack of an easement or informal agreement.

[edit] Court powers under ANLA 1992

One of the key points of ANLA 1992 is associated with determining the necessity of the work. In order for the court to grant access, the applicant must show that the proposed works are:

  • Necessary to preserve the whole or any part of the land.
  • Impossible or substantially more difficult to carry out without access to the neighbouring land.

Examples of such works may include repair, renewal or maintenance of buildings, drains, sewers, pipes or cables. It may also include clearing ditches or removing dead or loosely rooted plants such as trees or hedges.

Even if the work is considered necessary and cannot be carried out without access to the neighbour’s land, the court may not grant access under two conditions:

NB In 1996, the Party Wall Act was introduced. This grants the owner of a property the legal right to undertake certain works to boundaries, party structures and excavations that might otherwise constitute trespass or nuisance. For more information see: Party Wall Act.

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