Our neighbour is using his van as a shed on our shared parking space
Property Clinic: The van hasn’t moved in five months and is a health and safety hazard
While the van may not prevent you selling your house, it could be a disincentive to prospective purchasers, and could make it more difficult for you to realise its potential value. Photograph: iStock
We live in an estate that was built in 2007 and living here beside our neighbours since 2008. We are joined to one property on one side and have a good relationship with those neighbours. However, on the other side we are not joined to the neighbour’s property but relations are not good due to a falling out over a boundary fence. A row of four shared parking spaces are in front of our property. Two of these spaces are directly in front of our property while one is in front of the neighbour’s property and one is in front of both houses.
When the estate was built, no boundary walls or fences were added, and we found our neighbour was cutting the grass on our property and trespassing across the boundary to gain some extra land and to claim ownership to the parking space we both shared.
We erected a small wooden fence that ran down the perimeter of our house and across the front of our property, not interfering with the parking spaces. The neighbour wasn’t very happy with the erected fence, threatened to break it down and relations quickly soured between us. This happened in 2011 and things have been the same since.
More recently, the same neighbour moved a white Ford Transit van to the parking spaces closer to our house. The van is no longer driveable, so it was pushed at an angle into the space outside their house and across the space beside it at an angle with the front facing out. The van hasn’t moved in five months and not only is it an eyesore, it is a health and safety hazard trying to get out of our house as the front seats have been filled with black bin bags, boxes and other items of rubbish which block the view of oncoming traffic. Bricks have been placed at the wheels on their side to prevent it rolling forward. It is essentially being used as an outdoor shed.
What I am concerned about is if the van parked there will prevent us selling our house in the future and what are our rights in relation to getting it moved into one space? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
It is unfortunate to have a neighbour who behaves in the way you describe. While the van in question may not prevent you selling your house, it would be a disincentive to prospective purchasers, and would make it more difficult for you to realise its potential value. You took the correct action in asserting your boundary line, as a boundary anomaly or dispute would make it difficult to complete a sale. You did not clarify if the parking spaces are owned by a management company and whether you have parking rights or if they are part of your house title.
However, from your description, it appears that the parking space/s, directly at the front of each property, is/are part of the respective property and that the legal ownership of the shared space is divided accordingly. This means that you, and your neighbour, have an easement over each other’s portion of the shared parking space, to facilitate each of you in routinely parking your car on this space when it is available. It is not for permanently parking or storing a vehicle. Your deed and deed map should confirm the extent of your property, and easement.
Based on the above, there are three aspects to consider, as follows:
(a) the obstruction of the space, part of which you own and part over which you have an easement, ie a legal interest
(b) the derelict conditions created by the van
(c) the use of the van as a shed
In relation to (a) your neighbour is not entitled to obstruct the space over which you have a legal interest. It is imperative that the issue of obstruction is addressed, without undue delay, in order to avoid being dispossessed of your legal interest in the space. Your solicitor will advise on this.
In relation to (b) it appears that the conditions created by the van fit the description of a derelict site, as defined by Section 3 of the Derelict Sites Act, 1989. Local authorities are obliged to maintain a register of derelict sites and to initiate procedures with the property owners concerned, to eliminate the dereliction. It is advisable that you discuss the issue with your local authority.
In relation to (c) if the van is being used as a shed, as you suggest, it is an unauthorised development, and therefore this aspect is a matter for the local authority’s planning department to investigate. Section 3 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000, includes “the deposit of vehicles whether or not useable for the purpose for which they were constructed or last used”, in the Act’s description of land as having materially changed. Such material change of use requires planning permission. You should discuss this with the local authority’s planning department.
If a management company controls the parking spaces, you should engage with it prior to contacting the local authority. – Patrick Shine
Patrick Shine is a geomatics surveyor, a civil engineer and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie