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Update: residential property

Janet Armstrong-Fox reviews the acquisition of easements, collective enfranchisement, borrowers' privilege, party wall matters and recent moves to limit the use of SDLT planning

14 February 2011

Beware the accidental easement

The case of London Tara Hotel Limited v Kensington Close Hotel Ltd [2010] EWHC 2749 (Ch) reminds us of the constant need for vigilance if property owners are not to find themselves subject to a neighbour’s prescriptive easement.

In 1973, the landowner in this case had granted a personal licence to its neighbour to use a roadway crossing its land at an annual fee of £1 “if demanded”. The licence wasinitially for one year and then from year to year, until determined by four weeks’ notice.

From 1980 onwards, the neighbouring property, which was operated as a hotel, was bought and sold several times and, although the licence to use the roadway had been personal to the original licensee, the subsequent owners continued to use the roadway.

In 2007, after a fall out between the two hotel owners over a possible combined redevelopment, the landowner served notice on its neighbour to terminate the...

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