Land owners often approach us with concerns about third parties who claim they have obtained rights of way over private land because they have used the land for many years.
Land owners very often do not know these rights even existed and ask us for help in preventing these situations from occurring.
Such claims to “new” rights of way can prove very costly for land owners to fight and often contain little evidence to back the land owners’ argument against recognising them.
One way in which landowners can strengthen their position is by depositing a Statutory Declaration and plan with their Local Authority detailing which rights of way a landowner recognises over his land, if any. By doing this, any rights of way not included on the Declaration are deemed not recognised and therefore harder to enforce.
Depositing a Statutory Declaration gives landowners the ability to allow continued informal use of tracks and paths without fear of any “new” public right of way being gained “as of right” on the basis of continued and future use of such tracks.
Where a track or path has been used by the public for less than 20 years, it is not possible for a right of way to be claimed through presumed dedication if a Statutory Declaration is deposited with the local authority.
Landowners should be aware that in order for the process to remain valid a new Statutory Declaration needs to be submitted every 10 years.
For further information on this matter, please contact Frank Smith on firstname.lastname@example.org.